Van brings music to school

Visitors: Members of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra have become `musical missionaries' to third-graders.

May 26, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians are traveling around Anne Arundel County in a "music van" to share their instruments and instill a little music appreciation in third-graders.

ASO Education Director Pamela Chaconas had the idea for the van last summer, and the orchestra was able to put it on the road with a grant from the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County. Ernie Swanson Oldsmobile of Glen Burnie donated a new van, Music and Arts Center in Severna Park lent instruments, and Friends of ASO is supplying volunteers to help.

During their school visits, the musicians show pupils why instruments are categorized as strings, woodwinds and brass, and how the sound of an instrument is produced. They also demonstrate its voice and color. Four musicians then play a fugue so that the children can experience classical music, many of them for the first time. The musicians then let the children try each of the instruments they've heard.

The orchestra hopes to inspire more interest in music lessons. Chaconas pointed to numerous studies that have indicated children who play musical instruments are more successful academically.

The education director started the music van trips May 18 after MSPAP standardized testing was finished.

She drives the van and is involved in each day's program, introducing the musicians and encouraging the children to try all of the instruments.

Chaconas describes the rewards of "proving to children that they can do it; to prevent a negative mind-set and give them the idea that it is possible for them to make music.

"Sometimes you see a child really connect with an instrument, and the sound is wonderful," she said. "To see the joy on their faces when they are successful is truly rewarding."

Many of the musicians fell in love with music at an early age and are adept at drawing students in. Violinist John Nardolillo said, "It's the point of contact. There is nothing like putting your hands on an instrument."

He and fellow musicians aboard the van have taken to calling themselves "missionaries of music."

The musicians arrived at Arnold Elementary School at 9 a.m. Friday and held classes until 2: 30 p.m.

At the conclusion of the last hour's program, Chaconas asked the children whether they had selected instruments they liked. All 10 children raised their hands when she asked, "How many of you would like to play in an orchestra some day?"

Chaconas said she hopes the program will be expanded to more elementary schools next year.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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