Our school’s demographics are typical of our district: predominantly Latino students with a large population of African American students and nearly all from low-income families. However, we are atypical in that we also have statistically significant numbers of Caucasian and Asian students. This diversity is refreshing and promotes an environment of harmony across cultures.
As a result of yet another successful year, the enrollment in our music classes has increased by an astounding 64%!
Our string orchestra is 19% larger, the choir has more than doubled, and the band has grown by an astounding 245%! We have 34 8th-graders, 47 7th-graders, and 95 6th-graders, so more than half of our students are 6th-graders!
Equally exciting is the enthusiasm and involvement of the students. The students and their parents contribute to our Donors Choose projects and support our other fundraising activities. Our chapter of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society, which performs community service within and beyond our school, has 17 members, including 11 6th-graders. Our ambitious and successful winter concert included two movements from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. This is already a fabulous year for our young musicians and we still have a semester to go!
When I was a fledgling teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a professional string quintet performed an assembly at my middle school. The students were awestruck by the enchanting beauty produced by these five artists, even though the stage of the auditorium was mostly empty and there were several hundred students in attendance.
A couple years later the String Family Players returned to coach my students and our music program went on to become one of the best in the district.
We performed for elected officials and we performed throughout the community. Guests at the retirement party for one of our former superintendents complimented us for the professional level of our 45-minute performance, and one said that our music “gave the evening the ambience of a New York gala.” Upon hearing our performance of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” at a groundbreaking ceremony, the Consul-General of Austria told our local superintendent, “They should play Mozart in Austria.”
That neighborhood middle school has since evolved into a medical magnet, so now I am teaching at a performing arts magnet. I am still working for LAUSD, the String Family Players are still performing through the Music Center, and we all have 20 more years of experience behind us. Having already performed our first concert of the school year, my students are ready for the String Family Players’ inspiration and advice. Furthermore, by having the String Family Players in our orchestra room rather than in the auditorium, there will be a greater sense of connection between the students and our guests.
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