An intro to music February 24, 2010, 01:03 AM By Heather Murtagh
Paul Carlson/Daily Journal Fifth graders Omer Stegel, left, and Melissa Milligan play cello in the instrumental music class that recently started at Parkside Elementary School in San Mateo. It is one of the district’s 16 elementary schools that started a program mid-year thanks to community donations raised by for kids!, the foundation supporting the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District. Ten-year-old Omer Stegel sits up while holding his cello and silently nodding his head for one, two, three, four counts before beginning to play a line.
Cello players come in after the first four counts on the number four practice line that was before string instrumental students at Parkside Elementary School in San Mateo yesterday. The youngsters followed the lead of their teacher, Helene Grotans, to showoff just what can be learned in two weeks. It’s been about two weeks since instrumental music was again offered to fifth grade students within the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District thanks to a community effort to raise $75,000, a donation made by for kids!, the foundation supporting the district. Fifth grade students got a late start, but at least get to play this year. That good news, unfortunately, only guarantees a class through the end of the year.
Students are not focusing on the fall, however. Their interest is playing.
Bryan Benitez put his trumpet to his lips and began to blow. Chipmunk-like cheeks bulged as he played a whole note before resting for four beats.
The fifth grader chose trumpet thinking it was easier to play. So far he’s noticed that blowing is hard. Benitez is not alone. Teacher Benny Torres stops the wind group to point out there is no need for chubby cheeks while playing.
Toning down the wind force, literally, had a calming effect on the notes produced by the group yesterday.
Across the campus, those with string instruments practiced a variety of notes together.
Violinists Kaley Pon and Brittany Won were chosen to play a line that seemed to be stumping the group, a mixture of notes and pauses that the girls were able to get after a few quick questions. Both noted the class is a lot of fun.
Helene Grotans, who was leading the strings, explained how high the student’s enthusiasm was to play.
“Because of the level of enthusiasm, they really have their whole heart in it,” she said, adding the late start seems to be an added boost.
Principal Lynn Gurnee attributed the help of teachers and the district office for helping move schedules around to accommodate the mid-year addition of music.
Getting here took much work from the district’s foundation, for kids!.
“We’re excited that this year’s fifth graders will have the opportunity to learn to plan an instrument,” said for kids! Executive Director Jean Abeles.
About 800 students districtwide signed up for the volunteer music program that began this month. The program is an introduction for students who often continue to take music courses in middle and high school, said Abeles.
A number of fundraisers, including a San Francisco Giants game, and many donors, both small and corporate, went into making this donation possible. Now the foundation begins looking ahead to next year.
For more information about for kids! visit www.forkidsedfund.org.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.
Foster City, CA – December 21, 2007 – for kids!, the San Mateo Foster City Education Foundation, announces the kick-off of its Annual Campaign to supplement inadequate state funding for critical programs in the school district. Founded in 1989 by committed parent and community volunteers and district employees, for kids! is the only organization dedicated to raising funds to enhance the education of all 10,000 students attending the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District.
Last year's campaign raised $167,000 to fund library aides, instrumental and classroom music programs, and elementary and middle school counseling. "Considering the impending budget crisis in Sacramento, community support for our schools will be more critical than ever to help ensure an excellent education for students in our district," according to for kids! Executive Director, Jean Abeles.
Thousands of past donors received letters this month asking them to donate to for kids! again this year. Donations made by December 30, 2007 will qualify for this year's tax deduction. Donations can be mailed to the San Mateo Foster City Education Foundation, 1170 Chess Dr., Foster City, CA 94404.
For further information, please contact Jean Abeles at (650) 312-7234.