Decatur City Schools third-graders get eight weeks of violins lessons. Afterward, the students who show an interest or a talent with the instrument are left to figure out on their own how to continue lessons.
But a new Apollo Strings pilot program at Woodmeade Elementary School will give at least 12 students an opportunity to continue violin lessons in school.
The Decatur Youth Symphony is starting the program, which will provide three lessons and two practice days a week before school. DYS President Stan Belsky said the symphony is trying to raise $7,250 to fund the pilot program for the year.
The symphony will provide classes through the first semester, but he said more financial support is needed to complete the year.
The symphony will provide violins and books.
Sharon Landis and symphony Director Jacob Frank will be the teachers. A strings coach will be provided for the first semester.
The lessons will be held in the 30 minutes after the school’s 7:15 a.m. breakfast. Principal Angie Whittington said these students will get to eat first so they can get to their violin lessons.
Music teacher Kay Grubbs hopes this will get more students to continue with the violin. The school had about 40 third-graders last year, and only two continued with private lessons.
“We’re a Title I school, and most can’t afford lessons,” Grubbs said. “You can give them scholarships, but transportation to the lessons could be a problem.”
Grubbs has a growing music program that includes violins, dulcimers and percussion, and this year she is adding guitar lessons for fifth-graders.
Belsky’s goal is to get more kids interested in the arts.
“Music not only gives students something to build in an interest in, it helps with brain function,” Belsky said. “It helps you process math and language, so academics improve.”
Landis said the violin “will stick with their DNA” if they stay with the lessons through a school year.
The students who stick with lessons will get to play in several Decatur Youth Symphony concerts scheduled for the year.
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