An exciting, balanced approach to teaching student’s music is happening at Waynedale Elementary this year. Students grades third through fifth are getting the opportunity to learn how to play the violin. And they are loving it!
As soon as the school bell rings at the end of the day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, students rush over to the classroom near Entrance #2. They grab a snack, which on Thursdays includes pizza from Pizza Hut or tacos from Taco Bell, finish up their homework, and then get the opportunity to play their precious instrument, the violin.
Three schools were chosen to be a part of Club Orchestra, or Club “O” for short. “Waynedale Elementary, Forest Park and South Wayne are involved in the new program teaching students to play the violin at no cost to the student because of a partnership between FWCS and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. This was all made possible by donations from the Auer Foundation, the Rhea Charitable Trust and an anonymous donor. The partnership has supplied string instruments and lessons by Philharmonic musicians,” said Waynedale’s music teacher Linda Douglas.
There is a total of 24 students, ages 9-11, at Waynedale Elementary playing the violin for the inaugural year. It is Program Manager Aaron Samra’s vision for Club O to continue in the future, with next year, the Orff Schulwerk music method advancing those students currently in the program, plus adding a new beginner’s group when school starts in Fall of 2019.
Club Orchestra is modeled after Venezuela’s “El Sistema” movement. Led by the originator of the program Philharmonic’s Principal Violist Derek Reeves, “Club Orchestra increases self-esteem and teaches life lessons to students through music in an orchestra classroom.”
Starting with lessons using a xylophone, students learned to read music, stay together as an ensemble and count.
The next step was practicing how to play a violin. A “PVC” violin. With a stick for the bow. Designed by Derek, this “PVC” violin is actually made from PVC piping. The students construct their own instrument and practice the technique before receiving a real violin with strings. Using the model “PVC” violin the students learn the correct position to bow.
“One of the errors made when learning how to play a violin is bowing. To bow evenly is important,” said Ms. Todorova, Concertmaster-leader of 1st Violins with the Philharmonic. “It primes the students for correct movement.” Violetta Todorova is one of three instructors at Waynedale Elementary. Linda Douglas-music teacher at Waynedale Elementary and Jon Boland-band and orchestra teacher from Towles and Miami Elementary are also instrumental in teaching the children how to play.
By January every musician has earned their own real violin. They treat it like gold. One of the first lessons they learn is that their instrument never goes on the floor. The mission of Club “O” is to empower students by providing the music experience and, also, the importance of teamwork, promoting self-confidence and instilling the value of social responsibility.
Today, taking a bow before playing his piece of music in front of a crowd of fellow student violinists, Ethan played as if he was at a recital. Each student had the opportunity to choose a piece of music, practice it, over and over again, then play either as a solo, or duet in Club O’s future recital. Ethan chose to solo with one of the songs that they played in mid-April at Wayne High School, where they played 5 songs, including Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
Come support these compassionate musicians on May 15 and 16th, in the Media Center at 3:45p and enjoy an entertaining afternoon recital when Waynedale Elementary students from the after-school program Club “O” present their practiced and polished piece.