Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Van Visits Monroe School
Students get up close and musical with orchestral instruments
By Tim Dougherty
Third-grade students at Monroe Elementary School in Santa Barbara got up close and musical with an assortment of orchestral instruments courtesy of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s award-winning Music Van this week.
A total of 47 students from two classes took part in a pair of sessions that included demonstrations and hands-on learning with volunteers and Santa Barbara Symphony Principal Bassoonist Andy Radford.
Participants were able to play a wide selection of donated brass, woodwind, percussion, and string instruments.
“The clarinet was my favorite because it’s fun to play and I like the way it sounds,” said Noah Arndt, age 8.
“It’s always gratifying to see the reaction of students upon touching or picking up one of these instruments. In most cases, it’s the first such opportunity they’ve ever had,” said Amy Williams, director of education and community engagement for the Santa Barbara Symphony
“Our goal with this program is to foster collaboration, creativity, social skills, and responsibility among participants, skills that will serve them well throughout their school years and beyond.”
In operation since 1978, the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Van visits third-grade classrooms in the greater Santa Barbara area between September and December, serving some 2,000 students in more than 40 schools each year.
The mobile music classroom is the recipient of a California Teachers Association Gold Award for Outstanding Support of Public Education (2009) and a Sally Parker Education Gold Award from the League of American Orchestras (2007).
“This is a time-tested concept. We’ve seen time and again what happens when we put instruments in the hands of these kids,” said Radford, music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Youth Symphony.
“Many of them go on to become musicians. But it’s more than that. You can actually see their eyes light up with wonder. We’re sparking a lifelong engagement with music.”