Music for our littlest ones

Violinist Monique Mead working with early elementary students this past spring.

Orcas Chamber Music Festival to debut new program for youngsters

The Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival believes strongly in the power of music to change lives, especially for the youngest members of our community.

For the past three years, the festival’s IM: In Music program has brought world-renowned classical musicians to the elementary and secondary public schools for in-class demonstrations and workshops as well as master classes for community musicians.

Its newest project is IM: In Music for Young Ones, a program designed to provide music education to early learning centers on Orcas. The Orcas Island Children’s House, Orcas Montessori School, and Kaleidoscope are all participating.

The program’s goals are to prepare children from birth through age five for a lifetime of music through an interactive music education curriculum, build a foundation for the K-12 music education curriculum, and provide training for Orcas Island early learning teachers from visiting musicians-in-residence.

Early learning students will also be involved with the Chamber Music Festival’s summer Children’s Concert, which provides an opportunity for young people to both listen to first-rate music and participate in live performances with visiting artists. More than 200 children between the ages of two and 10 attend the concert.

Violinist Aloysia Friedmann and her husband Jon Kimura Parker, a pianist, founded the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (OICMF). Now in its 12th year, the festival presents an annual series of summer concerts performed at Orcas Center by world class musicians.

“Outreach education has been a part of Aloysia’s commitment to Orcas Island from the very beginning,” said Victoria Parker, Executive Director of OICMF.

“In the last couple of years we’ve formalized it. It is not new for us, but the focus is now on having a musician here in the spring and fall and working with a year-round curriculum. Adding IM: In Music for Young Ones is a natural part of the continuum. We’ve used the state guidelines for kindergarten through third grade and revised them for younger students. We’ll use the language of music, introduce rhythm patterns, and present music and instruments from different countries. We’re very interested in a few years to see if teachers in the elementary see a difference (with incoming students).”

Parker says this new program would not be possible without the enthusiasm and artistic vision of Aloysia and Jon and the support of the OICMF board and community donors. “We’re very optimistic that the program will garner attention and additional grants – and hopefully donor support,” said Parker.

Initial funding for the IM programs came from The Gould Foundation, and it has been supported long-term by a grant from the Orcas Island Community Foundation and individual sponsorship gifts. IM: In Music for Young Ones is currently funded by a three-grant from the Community Foundation, support from the Music Advocacy Group (MAG), and Chamber Music Festival donors. A gradual transition to entire sponsorship support from donors is planned.

The grant money will provide instruments, books about music and composers, and CDs and DVDs appropriate for birth to five. OICMF is also accepting donations of quality instruments and music-related books, CDs or DVDs in excellent condition.

“To underscore the innovative nature of this program developed by OICMF, we will be welcoming Dr. Patricia Campbell, Professor at the University of Washington School of Music as our first Musician-in-Residence for IM: In Music for Young Ones,” said Parker.

Campbell will be on Orcas in April, introducing music concepts to children in all three preschools, working with early learning center teachers on ways to present music to their students, and offering a “music with young ones” session for parents.

“I really feel that without this, our children’s participation in music would be limited to what we, small, non-profit organizations, can offer. I had been paying out of my own pocket for Mary Wachter to come and do her music program. But I can no longer finance this myself and all of these non-profit preschools are limited in what we can offer. So this is a real gift,” said Children’s House Executive Director Jana Albright.

“I think the cooperative effort between preschools, the Chamber Music Festival, and MAG is one of the most exciting aspects of it,” said Amber Paulsen, Director of Kaleidoscope. “We’re all working together for a common good. The education and experience that will come into the classroom will benefit all of the preschool-aged children of Orcas.”

Teresa Chocano, director of Orcas Montessori, is equally thrilled.

“I’m excited about the partnership with the Chamber Music Festival and young children. I think we are all going to benefit from the artists coming in and the enrichment that all the programs are going to get as a result of this.”

To donate instruments or other music items, please call Victoria Parker at 376-6636 or email her at victoria@oicmf.org.