Monday, December 18 , 2017, 9:53 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Classes Hitting a High Note in Goleta Schools

Partnership between the symphony and Goleta Union School District brings students and instructors together for small-group sessions

It’s 2 p.m. Thursday, and while many of Goleta’s elementary schoolkids are rushing out into the chilly fall air after class, there are others staying behind, bows in hand, ready to play some music.

In one room at Foothill School, three upper-graders are holding cellos between their knees, bows poised to drag out the melody to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Elsewhere, others are holding violins between chins and shoulders as their instructor shows them how to bow their instruments.

The string workshops are the latest in the ongoing effort by the Santa Barbara Symphony to bring the arts to local students. The program, held in collaboration with the Goleta Union School District, brings teachers and would-be musicians together in small classes to get the kids interested in and practicing the sting instrument of their choice.

“It’s really important for students to have music eduction at an early age and to be sure that starts when they are young so it can continue throughout their lives,” said Amy Bassett, the symphony’s newly installed director of education and outreach.

The Goleta Union School District and the symphony have had a decades-long relationship with music classes. Aside from the string workshop, the symphony brings free education to young musicians of all levels, from beginners in the Music Van program, where they pick up their instruments for the first time, to programs such as Junior Strings and Concerts for Young People — all of which fall under the Youth Symphony program in which the performers are mentored in a professional atmosphere to perform much like their counterparts in the Santa Barbara Symphony.

About 4,500 youths in the county participate in the educational programs, from elementary to high school.

“I like it because it’s really fun knowing how to play the music,” 11-year-old Eli Nania said.

Meanwhile, Roxy Jackson-Gain and Amanda Weymouth, both 11, agree that the cello is a fun instrument and would like to get better at it.

While Eli, Amanda and Roxy are learning fingering, timing and how to pull a perfect note from their cellos, what they might not know is that they’re also learning other skills — exercising hand/eye coordination between reading notes and playing, training their ears to understand the relationship of notes to one another, awareness and participation between different players and different instruments, and not the least of which is the confidence and poise that comes with performing in front of an audience.

The Strings Workshop, according to Santa Barbara Symphony director David Grossman, came to GUSD mainly because there was a more pronounced need for strings instruction in the district. As a result, GUSD and the symphony have a close relationship, particularly over sting instruction.

But, Grossman said, it doesn’t rule out spreading instruction to other districts, or expanding instruction to other instruments.

“As the program grows, because we have ambitious plans for the future, we will be extending it into the other families of symphonic works,” he said.

Noozhawk contributing writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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