Keller Citizen

August 19, 2014

Orchestra program to debut in Keller schools this fall

Eleven elementary schools will host violin lessons for fourth graders and a district-wide orchestra will include students of all ages.

A little string music will herald the beginning of a new orchestra program this fall in the Keller school district.

The Keller ISD Strings Academy will have a fourth grade violin program for beginners and a district-wide orchestra for students of all ages who already play an instrument.

Eleven elementary schools will host violin lessons for fourth graders starting in late September: Basswood, Bluebonnet, Caprock, Eagle Ridge, Florence, Independence, North Riverside, Park Glen, Liberty, Ridgeview and Whitley Road. Next year, officials plan to expand the violin lessons to the other KISD elementary campuses.

Kim Blann, fine arts director, said that each location will have 20 students taking once a week lessons. If more than 20 sign up, a lottery would be held.

The district-wide program will consist of an intermediate group and an advanced group that each meet after school once per week for rehearsals at the Keller ISD Education Center. All students in this program will perform at concerts throughout the year and advanced students will have the opportunity to compete for All-Region and All-State Orchestra achievements.

“We wanted to start a program because there’s a whole group of kids doing orchestra who are not being served,” Blann said.

An informational meeting for the orchestra is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Keller ISD Education Center, 350 Keller Pkwy.

Violin lessons at the 11 schools will be handled by five to six instructors who will be subject to the same background checks as other employees, Blann said.

Students can benefit in many ways from participating in an orchestra, Blann said, and schools implementing orchestra programs show improved math scores.

Playing at a high level can also lead to a career. Out of all the music professions, orchestras yield the highest number of jobs for musicians, she said.

The most important way orchestra enhances education is to foster creativity and teamwork.

“I think there’s something really special about kids playing a variety of instruments who are coming together and learning to play together to create something bigger than themselves,” Blann said.

The cost to parents for each program will be $50 for the year. For the fourth grade program, the cost includes the rental of a violin. For the district-wide orchestra, students must provide their own instruments. Costs will be decreased for students on the free or reduced cost lunch programs.

“I wanted to do it in a way that the district could afford it but also in a way that your socioeconomic level didn’t affect it,” Blann said.

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