Now in its second year, Music in the Schools: Early Learners, with the help of the CAP Grant and Breckenridge Music, has increased student impact by over 100%. With the additional funding support, the program was expanded from Upper Blue (UBE) to include Dillon Valley Elementary (DVE) School. By expanding the program into DVE, the program reached a more diverse population of community members, including families below the poverty line, and families from Spanish, Turkish, and Lithuanian descent. In total, 61 students were directly impacted, approximately 122 family members, 9 teachers, 3 volunteers, 1 facilitator, and 3 staff were indirectly impacted, for a total of 199 people.
Lead by Lauren Leeds from Bluesky Music, the program engaged students and teachers consistently in 30-minute sessions over 10 weeks. Each week, Mrs. Leeds guided the participants through a series of songs, dances, and movement activities, allowing each student to learn the activities at their own pace, ultimately building their confidence. Ms. Kasprzyk, lead teacher at DVE reported: “students who were hesitant to participate or unable to due to social/emotional disabilities over time eventually joined the sessions or part of the session.” Mrs. Dixon, Lead Teacher at UBE reported “The students started the class the same way each time with a hello song, consistency is very important for us so this was very helpful. They did rhythm patterns with songs, movement songs and always ended with a music book.”
Mrs. Leeds presented songs in multiple languages and engaged students in songs that paired movement, dancing, and literature, increasing student’s comprehension of rhythm, pitch, literacy, imagination, critical thinking, behavior, focus, and learning.
Breck Music matched the classes with three volunteers who regularly participated in the program. Consistent involvement from teachers and volunteers creates a family-style gathering where music-making is shared through participation rather than performance. After participating in several programs at DVE, volunteer, Carol Vagnini, wrote: “The preschool music program at Dillon Valley was just delightful…Lauren did a beautiful job of leading the children with varied songs, movement, and Spanish/English. Her gentle demeanor was followed by the children of mixed abilities and participation. Such a worthwhile program!”
Teachers who participated in the program reported feeling more comfortable in using music in the classroom on a regular basis. In addition, Breckenridge Music provided each teacher and family a CD of songs being used in class. Teachers reported that parents were playing the music at home with their children and many were surprised on how proficient in singing their children were becoming. Ms. Kasprzyk, reported “After taking home the music CD, some children began to recognize the songs in class. They would have a surprised look on their face and say, “I have this at home!” The connection was priceless.”