Pacific University String Project takes center stage
University's music program for area children has been accepted to the National String Project Consortium. Concert culminating first semester takes place Sunday at 4 p.m. Free and open to the public.
Pacific University has been accepted into the National String Project Consortium, becoming just the 43rd university in the nation and the only one in Oregon to have an officially recognized program in which college students teach school-age children how to play string music instruments under the close supervision and guidance of the University’s faculty.
Pacific's String Project commenced last spring following budget cuts within the Forest Grove School District that ended its elementary and middle school strings programs.
The University agreed to assist FGSD by providing strings education and applied for NSPC membership and potential grant funding that comes with it. The University's acceptance into the consortium is expected to further develop the program and potentially provide strings opportunities for 140 local school-age students over the next five to seven years.
On Sunday, April 29, the Pacific String Project will conclude its first 10-week semester with a concert featuring 14 children in second through fourth grade who attend schools within the Forest Grove and Gaston school districts.
The performance takes place in the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center (2014 Cedar Street, Forest Grove) at 4 p.m. and will be led by the project's director and master teacher, Pacific assistant professor of music education, Dr. Dijana Ihas. Pacific student-instructors Kriszti Bunica, Carolyn Cartwright, Lilly Huynh and Justin Redona, all members of the Pacific Philharmonic orchestra, will assist Ihas.
Ihas and the Pacific student-instructors taught the basic playing skills of instruments such as the violin and viola to the children, and also provided parents with instruction on how they can help their kids practice throughout the week.
The project is beneficial not only to area children, but to Pacific's student-instructors, three of who are pursuing degrees other than music education at the University.
Redona, a sophomore double-majoring in music and chemistry on a pre-med track, is researching medical schools around the country that offer specialized clinical services for performing artists. He said teaching strings to children is a first step in a potential career caring for people.
"Musicians are often more practical in direct teaching than just demonstrating by performing," he said. "This experience benefits me as much as it does the kids."
An accomplished viola player, Redona recently performed a solo with classic rock band Kansas during a Philharmonic concert.
Huynh is a senior with sights on a career as a primary teacher in elementary education. A lead violinist in the Pacific Philharmonic and member of the University's Speech Team, she jumped at the chance to begin her teaching career early.
Cartwright, also a violinist in the Philharmonic, is a junior exercise science major who aspires to be a physical therapist.
"I started playing violin when I was in fourth grade and have always had a love of teaching, so teaching violin to children is a true joy for me," she said.
Bunica, a senior majoring in music education, has similar aspirations as Cartwright. She would like to work with music in a form of occupational or physical therapy.
A transfer student, she came to Pacific in part because students can experience a liberal arts & sciences education that provides practical, career-ready experience.
The opportunity to be able to apply what she is learning by both studying and teaching others is something that sets Pacific apart, she said.
"It's why I came to Pacific," Bunica said. "Students can put what they learn into immediate real-world practice here."
Ihas, an award-winning strings performer and teacher originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most recently from Sprague High School in Salem, guides and supervises all of the student-teachers to ensure that the children receive fundamentally sound instruction.
For parents of various backgrounds, the initial course has been more than they could have hoped for.
It has provided their children 10 sessions, each two hours in length, at a price well below private instruction that usually runs in the hundreds of dollars. Rather than having to choose which child would receive the instruction, parents with multiple children enrolled them at around $50 per child.
Pacific is one of the few private institutions to be an official site of the National Strings Project Consortium, Ihas said, because most private schools do not emphasize music studies the way large public universities do.
Pacific's Music Department, renowned for its curriculum, faculty and learning opportunities, coupled with the University's lauded College of Education, provide an optimal environment for the String Project, Ihas added.
She noted that the University's diligence in pursuit of consortium membership is a testament to the institution's commitment to teaching, learning and civic engagement.
"Our membership application was approved despite initial questions about our ability to develop and sustain the program because of our meticulous approach to meeting the consortium's rigorous planning standards," Ihas said. "The NSPC saw that we are serious about filling the need to provide strings education."
Pacific's Strings Project will be offering a music summer camp (July 23-27) and will resume its regular classes in the fall.
The program is open to second through eighth-graders residing in Washington County. Fall classes will be 50 minutes in length and held twice per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) beginning in September.
Ihas said the offerings include: heterogeneous group courses (all string instruments taught at the same time) in two levels: the beginning level for students who have never played string instruments and an intermediate level for students who have played string instruments for at least one year; orchestra for middle school students who have played string instruments for at least two years); and semi-individual lessons on any of the four string instruments (violin, viola, cello and double bass).
Fees are $40 per child for the Prelude (beginners) class; $50 per child for the Song (intermediate) class; and $60 for the Simphonia class (middle school orchestra).
The cost includes two classes per week, 50 minutes each in length, over 12 weeks, as well as two public performances.
For more information on summer camp and fall classes offered by Pacific's String Project, please contact Dr. Ihas at (503) 352-2102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Joe Lang (email@example.com) on Apr 27, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Edited by Jenni Luckett (firstname.lastname@example.org) on May 2, 2012 at 9:30 AM