John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra held their second week-long El Sistema workshop during the week of March 24. The focus of the workshop was on composition, culminating in the creation of a complete musical work by all the participating students.
The workshops build on John Adams' established Orff percussion classes, a 25-year before-school program which provides musical instruction starting at 6:30 a.m. every school morning.
“The program was not designed for the musically gifted, but rather for the students whose lives who could be changed for the better. Examples of the impact are students who were having emotional problems, attendance issues, extreme dislike or fear of school, or an inability to cooperate with others. The before-school music program has been a vehicle to turn these students into productive, motivated students not only musically but throughout all the components of their school environment,” said John Adams music teacher and Orff Ensemble director Wesley McCune.
“The kids come up with the lyrics and ideas,” said El Sistema consultant and workshop organizer Daniel Trahey.
ASO’s Maestro Kim Allen Kluge met with the students weeks before the workshop began. He described the importance of ASO’s investment in the program: “I value what they have to say. They are equal partners with us on the stage and we will be incorporating their work into the main programming.” Not only did the students perform the work at their school, they also appeared on stage with the ASO at Schlesinger Hall on Saturday, March 29.
ASO and John Adams Elementary would like to develop the program to be full-time next year with specific instruction for wind, brass, and percussion instruments as well as special guest artists. “Hopefully through the partnership with the ASO, we will soon be able to include every child in the program with the addition of more music teachers and resources,” McCune said.
For more information or to donate to the program, contact ASO at 703-548-0885 or visit www.Alexsym.org.