Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

Kids' Orchestra Breaks Boundaries with Music PDF Print E-mail

Girl playing trumpetThe benefits of music in children's lives are obvious: they learn a new skill, find a greater appreciation for music and, according to some studies, even gain IQ points. Baton Rouge’s newest music education program, Kids’ Orchestra, strives to include another benefit: racial harmony. "Through the language of music, Kids’ Orchestra is going to bring children of all races, cultures and backgrounds together.”

Gwen Jones, Kids’ Orchestra executive director, explains, “In a community that is frequently fragmented by location, Kids’ Orchestra will bring together children who otherwise would have never met, to forge friendships and understanding through the shared experience of music.”

The organization’s inaugural season begins this month, starting with two instructional sites featuring students from five local elementary schools: Capitol Elementary, The Dunham School, Lanier Elementary, LSU Lab School and Melrose Elementary. Kids’ Orchestra Founder and Board Chair, Nanette Noland, is “so excited about our five fabulous schools for our inaugural year.” profile2

A few Baton Rouge schools currently have music programs, but many, like Lanier and Capitol, do not. Children at participating schools will not be required to audition, but simply have an interest in learning to play an instrument. The program will be offered free of charge for those who qualify for scholarships.
“It seems unlikely that they will have had much musical training since we are targeting kindergarten through fifth grade, and many schools no longer have music programs,” Jones said. “We are starting from scratch.”

The participants will form two orchestras, each meeting twice weekly to practice. In addition to rehearsals, the groups will participate in social activities throughout the year, such as musical games and field trips. Students will also have an opportunity to witness first-hand the work of local professional orchestras by attending rehearsals that are normally closed to the public.

A highly qualified team of instructors will teach basic principles in music, instruments and the Symphony Orchestra. Guest presenters from some of the most distinguished performing institutions of the area (Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, LSU College of Music) will demonstrate their instruments and interact with the students.

Learning to play as a group will be beneficial, as the children will be able to learn from and encourage one another, Jones said. She considers music to be a “great equalizer” for all. Over the years, Member sof the orchestraas the children master their instruments, Kids’ Orchestra hopes to “graduate” its musicians into the Baton Rouge Symphony’s Louisiana Youth Orchestra. Making the program available to students across the state is also a long-term goal.

Big plans require big needs: Kids’ Orchestra is seeking help from the community as it launches its inaugural season, whether in the form of a monetary contribution, volunteer work or donating an instrument. In turn, Jones said, the program intends to create better citizens for Baton Rouge—citizens that have developed confidence, teamwork and leadership skills.

“Although music is going to be the means by which we connect with these children, Kids’ Orchestra is not solely a music program. We are simply using music as a way to inspire and motivate these children. We hope that our program will help these children become successful not just in music, but throughout their lives.” For more information, contact Raul Gomez by email or visit their website.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 July 2011 09:44 )

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