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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Education program spreads love of music

"It's week four of the 12-week pilot program to teach violin to 25 second graders at Woodville School." continues Visalia Times-Delta.

Music teachers Harmony Drumm, left, and Athena Saenz, not pictured, teach second graders Wednesday on identifying parts and correctly holding a violin, and the students will learn how to play during the HEARTstrings after school program at Woodville Elementary. 
Photo: Visalia Times-Delta

The children started by clapping to learn rhythm, using egg shakers (plastic eggs with popcorn inside) to learn dynamics, singing to learn notes and playing a Flutophone (miniature recorder) to learn tunes.

Recently they have progressed to using blue "paper violins" to learn the parts of the violin.

Today, they get to hold their real violins for the first time and to pluck a few strings. By Cinco de Mayo, their teachers expect them to be able to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" at the annual school celebration.

In March, the Tulare County Symphony launched the HEARTstrings program at Woodville School in conjunction with the Pro-Youth HEART after-school program.

The symphony and Symphony League have a 50-year history of music education and wanted to go a step farther — to reach rural children who rarely get a chance to play music.

Embracing the idea

By chance, Pro-Youth HEART wanted to add music to their after-school activities.

Dago Garcia, school superintendent, embraced the idea.

"Music is another way to get kids to be engaged in overall education. I've seen the importance of it with my own kids," he said. "It will provide a way for our kids to see the world outside of Woodville."

Many studies have shown that music education not only improves children's communication skills, attention and memory, but that it may even close the academic gap between rich and poor students.

"The goal is not merely musical skills, but life skills," said Bruce Kiesling, Tulare County Symphony music director.

Kiesling spent five years directing the YOLA (Youth Orchestras of Los Angeles) program for under-served children using the acclaimed El Sistema model. He saw dramatic changes and wanted to use the same model in Tulare County.

El Sistema began in Venezuela and now is used all over the world. It is designed not only to teach music but to change the lives of the neediest children.

Source: Visalia Times-Delta