LaGRANGE — Beginning this school year, string instruments are coming back to some Troup County schools.
“Strings Attached,” an initiative of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, will teach music lessons for fourth and fifth graders during after-school programs at three elementary schools, according to Joyce Morgan Young, a retired educator and co-organizer of the program.
Young and her co-organizer, Janet Johnson, a retired elementary school principal, are piloting the program at Ethel Kight, Hollis Hand and Franklin Forest elementary schools. Twenty students have already signed up — five each at Hollis Hand and Ethel Kight, and 10 at Franklin Forest.
“Eventually, we’d like to do this in every school,” Young said. “We want every child to have the opportunity to learn and know about strings.”
The program is already underway. Last week, students who signed up to participate in the after-school lessons met for a “Strings Attached” summer day camp, where they learned the fundamentals of string instruments. Friday, they held a recital at the Callaway Auditorium on Fourth Avenue.
Anton Jakovcic, a strings instructor, taught youngsters at the camp and will continue to teach them throughout the school year at Franklin Forest Elementary School.
“This week (of camp) was an accelerated effort to bring the kids up to speed, to familiarize them with the instruments,” he said. “You could feel the momentum building up. Having this before school starts really makes it more fun, because this week we practiced fundamentals, next we’ll move on to learning songs.”
The 20 students across the three participating elementary schools will practice once a week. There’s a nominal fee for the lessons, Young said. The cost is $10 per lesson, and future day camps will be $50 with a $25 nonrefundable application fee. Scholarships are available, Young added.
“Strings Attached” was hatched after Young and Johnson saw a need for more public school students to enter the LaGrange Youth Symphony Orchestra, also an initiative of the LSO.
“The youth orchestra was getting fewer and fewer public school students,” Young said. “A healthy program should have a good mix. I was an associate school superintendent when we started West Side Magnet School (an arts-oriented school), and to see it go was heartbreaking, although with budgets it had to be done. This is a way to bring strings back to public schools.”
Young said the importance of music education goes far beyond learning to play an instrument.
“There’s a close correlation with math and music,” she said. “Also, the students are learning how to follow directions, how to listen and work as a team. One violin is OK, but several make an orchestra. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself.”
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.