In Baton Rouge, expanding Kids Orchestra now counts 500 as students

Posted on: December 12, 2013

In Wednesday’s (12/11) Times-Picayune (New Orleans), Chelsea Brasted writes about a recent visit to Westdale Elementary School in Baton Rouge, where “a cacophony of sounds ekes out beneath the doors, spilling forth with the eager plucking of strings and banging of drums from the Kids Orchestra…. The program only began in 2011, but its enrollment has ballooned from about 30 students to 500 in that short time. The program first began after local businesswoman Nanette Noland heard a sermon at St. James Episcopal Church in which the pastor encouraged people to step off their own beaten paths…. That evening, Noland saw a program on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ about Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.… ‘Oh my goodness, this is what I’m supposed to do in Baton Rouge,’ Noland recalled.… The Kids Orchestra’s … teachers hold lessons at eight site schools…. Once a month, the students are also brought together to practice as a whole orchestra, said Kids Orchestra executive director Jody Hanet…. Students learn from professional musicians and music educators from across the region, with some coming from as far away as New Orleans for the twice-weekly classes.… ‘I’m speechless when it comes to what they’re going to be playing at [this December’s] concert,’ Hanet said, ‘and it is so inspiring to see the kids when they feel that accomplishment.’ ”

Posted December 12, 2013