Thanks to a grant from Prairie Meadows, the halls at Meredith Middle School are alive with the sound of music, fresh from the packing crates.
In total, the grant funded 205 new instruments around the district, including 78 for the band and orchestra programs at Meredith. Another 26 went to the Hiatt Middle School orchestra. North High received 20 and programs at McCombs, Weeks and Callanan middle schools; East High, and River Woods, McKinley, Capitol View and Pleasant Hill elementary schools also benefitted.
The need at Meredith was especially great, where the band program has burgeoned beyond its inventory of musical equipment. Some 230 students are enrolled and, until this week, 50 of them didn’t have an instrument to play.
“We’d work on rhythm patterns and exercises,” said band teacher Amy Spear. “Kids would share and sometimes we’d borrow back and forth with (next door neighbor) Hoover (High School).”
Participation has more than doubled during Spear’s four years. She and orchestra teacher Lisa Fried started classes for 6th graders who arrived in middle school with no prior instrumental experience. They didn’t want that and/or the inability to afford to buy or rent an instrument to stand in the way of someone who wants to make music. It’s one of those things there can never be too much of.
Imagine what teachers who are able to sell kids on the rewards of musicianship can accomplish with actual instruments to play! Baseball teams tend to hit better with bats, right?
Meredith feeds the music programs at Hoover where Ryan Rowley is in the second year of resurrecting a dormant marching band. His numbers rose significantly from last year to this, a positive change that promises to become a trend now that there are as many horns as there are tooters waiting to toot them next door. Rowley figures to have all the marchers he can eat in the years to come.
“Don’t worry, you guys,” Spear told her 7th grade band class Thursday morning. “We’ll work on those hard to reach notes next time.”
They already hit a high one this week, thanks to DMPS Grants Specialist Laurie Brenno and Prairie Meadows.