New Jersey Symphony brings El Sistema-style teaching to Newark school

Posted on: April 26, 2013

In Friday’s (4/26) Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), Peggy McGlone writes, “The second-floor library of University Heights Charter School in Newark had been transformed into a concert hall, with 25 violinists arranged in three sections and grouped around music stands in the same way they would appear on a stage. Standing in front, conductor Jeffrey Grogan was sweating as he came to the end of the 75-minute rehearsal. Working on the opening bars of Fanfare in Rondo, Grogan asked his musicians to perform the bow movement in the air, singing the notes as they moved their arms. … Last Friday’s rehearsal with Grogan marked a turning point in a six-week pilot program run by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Fashioned after El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education program, the program aims to improve academic performance, discipline and focus through violin instruction. The concept is a good match for University Heights Charter School, said its executive director, Misha Simmonds. ‘The program really aligns well with our focus on character, scholarship and leadership,’ Simmonds said. … For the last month, the 25 students have met after school three times a week for two-hour lessons with three NJSO teaching artists. … The program also features in-school performances by NJSO musicians.” For a behind-the-scenes look at the University Heights program, visit SymphonyNOW.

Posted April 26, 2013