By JULIANNE HOMOKAY – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
“Oooh, this is awesome!” exclaimed one of the girls, as over 70 Valley Of Enchantment Elementary third-graders filed into the cafeteria on Friday, May 26. “Introduction to the Orchestra,” sponsored by the Arrowhead Arts Association, is a program that “hopes to stimulate interest in our 3rd graders to continue their music education by choosing to participate in a string or band class,” according to the Association’s literature.
The students came in to find a table laid out with sample instruments from the four symphonic families: woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion; as well as visual aids detailing all the different instruments they might find in an orchestra, and a chart detailing how musicians are seated in an orchestra setting. The set-up and breakdown was assisted by devoted Association volunteer Lorna Polley.
Chryl Russell, the Association’s Director of Youth Enrichment, and Sarah Shumate, the TK-3 general music teacher who roves between all the public elementary schools on the mountain, conducted the hour-long presentation. Russell opened the presentation with a brief history of the Association’s programming: “I went to the superintendent back in 2000; ‘We have no music in our schools!’ So I decided to do something about that.” Russell then played a song on the autoharp that the kids could sing along to.
Shumate took over to introduce the families of instruments, reviewing basic musical concepts along the way. Emily Gregg, the Director of Music at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School (MPH), had brought a few of her students along, joined by Neva Hidajat from Rim High, to demonstrate as Shumate introduced the instruments. The 3rd graders got to hear a cello, two violins, an alto saxophone, a flute, and two trumpets accompany Shumate’s talk.
Where might these students go from here? According to Russell, in the 4th and 5th grades, music teachers will come to the kids’ classrooms to recruit interested students for music classes that will prepare them for the many ensemble opportunities available at MPH. In addition, the Association is sponsoring a performance in September by the Riverside County Philharmonic at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. This performance is free to members of Arrowhead Arts Association, and also free to all children who are accompanied by an adult.
After the presentation, Russell discussed the funds it takes to run student string programs with The Alpine Mountaineer. “40,000 dollars to have a string program,” she said, which is why the Association relies so heavily on donations.
States Ken Camarilla in his message as President of Arrowhead Arts Association, “It is our belief that music heightens the educational experience of our children in tangible ways. Those tangible ways include better attendance at school, discipline, grades and the feeling of accomplishment.”
To join Arrowhead Arts Association in their mission, visit ArrowheadArts.org to become a member or make a singular donation.