Fifth Graders Experiment with Music

Mike Lawson • News • January 19, 2016

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About 780 fifth-graders will visit Missouri Western State University’s Potter Hall by the end of the week with one goal: to discover what musical instrument suits them best.

“A lot of them have a preconceived notions of what they want to play,” said Darren Verbick, the St. Joseph School District’s elementary fine arts coordinator. “Then when they get here and really try it, it’s like, ‘well that didn’t do what I was expecting it to, but this other one did.’”

The Instrumental Infusion event is the elementary students’ first steps toward possibly playing a brass or woodwind instrument in band, or a string instrument in orchestra. Since they started more than a decade ago, the music departments in schools across St. Joseph have continued to grow.

“My orchestra kids are really excited because now we can actually compete in competitions since the district has an orchestra at every high school,” said Sarah Cool, an orchestra teacher at Benton High School. “We used to not be allowed to do that, but now we can.”

Benton students in the past had to ride the bus to Central High School just to take orchestra class, but now they have enough string players to have their own.

“One of the big benefits for the university is they’re able to use music education students (for the event),” Verbick said. “So they get a hands-on experience as well.”

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