Decades of research tell us that children who learn to draw, dance, play an instrument or act on stage are more focused and motived, have higher self-esteem and do better academically than children who don’t. Leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum are increasingly encouraging holistic learning and supporting efforts to incorporate the arts for a STEAM (the “A” is for arts) movement.
“Unfortunately, in-school art programs have been severely cut back due to budget constraints,” Mauricio Torre, South Bay Community Services Youth and Family Development Department director, said. “And for low-income families, private instruction is just not an option.”
This school year at Castle Park Elementary, all students are receiving in-school music instruction due to funding support from Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood.
“Each class receives two music classes each week,” CPE’s music teacher Hans Chamberlin said.
Primary lessons have covered concepts such as music as language, beat and rhythm, orchestral instrument families, and playing instruments (xylophones, mettlophones, glockenspiels and hand drums). Third graders have also been practicing the recorder.
Upper lessons have included melody, complex rhythm, staff notation in treble, bass and alto clefs, major scale theory, chord theory, and they have recently begun practicing the violin, viola and/or cello.
“The fact that we can say, as of this quarter, every student grades fourth to sixth at our school is practicing on a stringed instrument is quite an accomplishment,” Chamberlin said. “Students are engaged in the content and are learning to work hard to accomplish a goal.”
In addition to funding a full-time music teacher at Castle Park Elementary, Torre said CVPromise has also partnered with organizations such as San Diego Youth Symphony, the New Children’s Museum, A Reason to Survive and various additional local organizations to bring new opportunities and experiences to the Castle Park community.
Recently, Castle Park families were invited to attend South County Christian Youth Theater’s musical production of “Shrek.” For many families and their children it was the first time they ever experienced a live theater production.
And in May, the Mexi’cayotl Indio Cultural Center will bring their 2014 “Raíces Indígenas/Indigenous Roots” dance program to Castle Park High School for a free community event to celebrate the three different types of dance traditions from Mexico that have taken root in San Diego County.
“These are programs and experiences that will help provide skills which can profoundly impact a student’s success in school and beyond,” Torre said. “We’re helping to build our future leaders.”
Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood is proud to partner with Castle Park Elementary, Castle Park Middle School, Castle
Park High School, Hilltop Middle School and Hilltop High School to bring new opportunities and pathways of success for their students and families.
For more information, visit CVPromise.org or call (619) 422-5005.
Mireles is a program manager with Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood