In looking at our final year partnering with Alice Ott Middle School for the private lessons from 45th Parallel teaching artists and the participation by ALL nine of the DDSD elementary schools’ grades 3-5 we reflect on the huge growth in music making skills and student interest in the music programs at both levels. Marlene Trigg, the AOMS orchestra director reported that there was a record number of incoming 5th graders from the feeder elementary schools signing up for band and orchestra. The elementary teachers reported increased music literacy, as the 3-5th graders learned to read and compose music in preparation for the Link Up concert, “The Orchestra Swings.” With all of the schools working toward the goal of playing together at one concert at the Schnitzer together, came a huge sense of pride from the students and teachers.
Attendance at student concerts is up in all schools. Parents are seeing the value of their children’s involvement and are reflecting the pride that has been part of the history within this school district. As the community has evolved, due to migration trends, parents new to the community are finding their way into the schools through their children’s activities and interests. As Sarah, a parent on our leadership team stated, “through this partnership and support, we are building a community within a broader community, the community of music. Parents start recognizing other parents, kids belong to something bigger and parents feel they belong to something as well.”
Reflecting on our principles this year, we as multi-disciplinary team, realized that the work we have done together over these past five years has supported the high-level of expectations in the DDSD music community. Although much progress has been made over the five year experience, all of us want to make sure that the level of excellence and enthusiasm continues. DDSD Music Director, Tom Muller, is looking into retaining the private lessons program and Carnegie Hall Link Up curriculum through the district budget process. Community member, Cherie-Anne May, is researching accessing funds from the DDSD Foundation funds. Parent Sarah Moore-Gonsalves is talking with parents about ways to support these programs through fund-raisers and attending board meetings.
As to advice for others in arts education partnerships, identifying the principles early on and reflecting on them on a regular basis is a great way to stay focused and move forward. It is also important to identify who will do what and what the deadline is for reporting back and completion. That has been our biggest struggle in dealing with lots of team members, classroom teachers, music specialists, administrators and teaching artists.