Every Child Deserves to Learn Classical Music

Imagine an educational program that gives children a music education while teaching them teamwork, leadership, how to bring their best and to be part of something bigger. That’s what Jump Start Strings, a Jacksonville version of El Sistema, the national children’s music program of Venezuela, does as part of the Communities in Schools Team-Up After School Program.
Working with children in three Duval County elementary schools: Pickett, Reynolds Lane and Woodland Acres, musicians from the Jacksonville Symphony visit the children two days a week, providing lessons as well as programs in music theory. Six to eight times a year, the children from the three schools come to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts to participate in group ensembles. symph2
This year there are fifty children participating, half of whom are “repeats” in the program. In fact, twenty-two of the children have gone through the program and been selected to attend LaVilla Middle School of the Arts or Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. One youngster started as a second grader in Jump Start Strings and is now at Douglas Anderson.
“Over the life of the program more than four-hundred children have been positively impacted,” reports Peggy Toussant, Jump Starts string coordinator. “This past year we were awarded an Innovation in Education Award from the Jacksonville Business Journal for our work.”
Peggy started with the program soon after the Symphony received a grant from the Jim Moran Family Foundation in 2008. The Symphony’s director of finance, Nancy Ferdman, who attends church with Toussant, told the former school teacher that the job would be perfect for her. Today the program relies on the Jacksonville Symphony, Communities in Schools and the gifts of donors to continue its operation.

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Author: Arbus

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