Mansfield School & Family Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 23

MISD’s Orchestra Program Finishes First Year I n a time where districts around the country are considering cutting their fine arts budgets, Mansfield ISD is expanding theirs in a unique way -- with orchestra. An orchestra program isn’t unique in and of itself. Many middle and high schools offer a string program. But when MISD started discussing how it would phase their program in, they decided to try something different. “Every fifth grade student will have participated in the pre-orchestra class as part of their fifth-grade elective rotation by the end of the 2016-17 school year,” said Fine Arts Director Dr. Russell Sanders. That means instead of playing the good old recorder in fifth-grade, MISD students are playing the violin. Because the district invested in a classroom set of instruments, all students get a hands on education. Students demonstrate the care and safety measures by handling the instruments, learn to speak the musical language by identifying the parts of the violin and even speak a little bit of Italian, a very common language used in the music world. They start using various muscles to pizzicato (pluck the strings) and arco (using the bow) on the strings. “We keep them reading, saying, singing and playing letter names and fingerings that are needed to master the music in front of them. That process gives them a healthy work-out of the biggest muscle we train…their brain muscle,” said Asa Low and Della Icenhower Intermediate Orchestra Director Anca Lorincz. “It takes a brave student to give their best in our classroom. They surprise themselves how far they grow in such a short amount of time.” Fifth-grade students are currently in the process of choosing their electives for next year. For the first time incoming sixth-graders will be able to choose beginning orchestra. “This group of fifth-graders will have the opportunity to select orchestra every year, all the way through high school as we grow this program,” said Sanders. “We believe the addition of a string program is an important component in offering a well-rounded balance of options in the visual and performing arts.” Mansfield School & Family 21