Music has benefits for many students

We are very happy to announce that the Snoqualmie Valley Junior Orchestra (SVJO) will begin rehearsals Sept. 17. Sponsored by Snoqualmie Valley Youth Hub, and in cooperation with Snoqualmie Valley School District, 48 students have enrolled for the upcoming school year.

This project began in January of this year as a result of an initial interest survey conducted in each of the district's eight public and three private schools. We found that parents, students and teachers desire a comprehensive music program, one which is able to serve the schools in the future with a diversity of performing arts offerings. At this juncture, an organizational/operational committee was formed and a plan created to make this a reality.

As a general rule, the performing arts are capable of standing on their own without a sales pitch. Children with talent and ambition naturally connect to a program that provides stimuli and collaboration. Still, beyond this handful of children are those who could also benefit immeasurably if such a program were made readily available. Years of neuromusicology research studies provide us with glimpses of the profits of an ongoing, professional music program.

Children who study an instrument (voice included) improve in academic achievement, especially in cognitive functions and mathematics. They learn to employ inductive and deductive reasoning and learn to recognize and understand multiple stimuli. String playing, for example, is a very complex physical activity (although it can be learned at a much younger age), which cultivates coordination and dexterity, and provides skills, aesthetics, cognitive and social learning experiences that give children a "heads up" in their educational careers.

With this in mind, the SVJO committee has formulated a plan to supplement and extend the existing school music and band programs. Our program will exist outside the present curriculum until funds are available to incorporate it.

Each student will receive two hours each week of instruction on one of four string instruments: violin, viola, cello or bass. Included in this instruction will be theory, music history, appreciation and performance skills. Fall City Elementary and North Bend Elementary schools will be hosts for the program, with classes before and after school at each location.

Our director, Greg Savage, is the principal violist for the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra and comes to us with many years of private instruction experience. He also has an exemplary record directing ensembles and youth symphony. He is very happy for the opportunity to offer this music extension program and looks forward to working alongside our gifted music and band directors in the Snoqualmie Valley School District.

Because this program is outside the curriculum, parents are required to pay monthly tuition fees and provide an instrument. Tuition supplies our director's wages, textbooks, music, operational money and partial uniforms. The SVJO committee is, and has been, actively seeking grants to supplement tuition costs, build our music library and save toward purchase of instruments (especially basses for each school).

We are also setting up a scholarship fund because of our sincere desire to provide each child access to the program, regardless of ability to pay. We have been made aware of businesses and individuals who wish to contribute towards these goals. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, you may do so by submitting it to: The Snoqualmie Valley Youth Hub, Snoqualmie Valley Junior Orchestra, P.O. Box 1865, Snoqualmie, WA 98065. (Please make a notation as to the fund you wish to donate to: SVJO General Program or SVJO Scholarship Fund).

With the enthusiasm already generated, we fully expect to double our enrollment next year. This would mean opening the doors to probably two more district schools and hiring in more instruction hours. With this pleasant growth also comes the need for more funds. We, the Snoqualmie Valley Junior Orchestra Committee, students and parents, are prepared to see this program into the future. With your physical and financial support, we will be able to provide our children with a gift they will cherish forever.

This column was written by members of the Snoqualmie Valley Junior Orchestra Committee. They are: Kathy Dalberg, chair; Dan Vail, treasurer; Patti Gates, secretary; Kerry Crowley and Janice Grimstad, parent liaisons; and John Powelson and Marianna Vail, music professional consultants

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