The data on the impact of music education in academic success are very persuasive. An article by Steve Kelly, Ph.D., summarizes the current status on the Florida Music Educators web site where he states that students from across the state achieve higher academic success if participating in music classes. This result is independent of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic levels. The students also have a lower dropout rate than those not enrolled and higher SAT and FCAT scores.
In spite of these data, the availability of music education in the Collier County Public Schools varies dramatically depending upon the school scheduling of music classes and the background of the music staff. In Collier County the formal band, orchestra and choral classes start in the sixth grade in the middle schools.
Collaborations between the Bower School of Music at FGCU and community groups have resulted in two exciting music programs in Immokalee. The programs were designed by Judy Evans who did a brilliant job creating programs with significant impact. The pre-k violin literacy program utilizes the small violins that were donated by a Naples Music Club member, Clifford Saby, in 2000.
Pre-K Violin Vision Program
After School Elementary Mariachi Program
Description of Programs
Pre-K Violin Vision (Literacy Based) – 3rd year of program
70 four-year-old children receive violin lessons twice a week in groups of 10-12 at the Immokalee Guadalupe Early Childhood Center. Three Bower School of Music string education students are intern/teachers under the close supervision of Judy Evans, a certified string educator. Judy is the program designer and director. She oversees the curriculum and training of interns.
The children in the program have demonstrated increased attention span, improved listening skills, enhanced ability in finding patterns, improvement in fine motor skills, better rhythm/pitch discrimination that assists with language skill, enhanced skills at identifying symbols, pre-reading skills and improved discipline.
Pinecrest Elementary Mariachi Classes – 2nd year of program
Pinecrest Elementary School in Immokalee has a 99% poverty rate. The only way these students can afford music instruction is through programs such as this.
Thirty-four third through fifth graders receive violin and guitar lessons once-a-week. Three Bower School of Music string education students are the interns/teachers. Judy Evans also oversees this program. For the university students, the program provides an unparalleled opportunity for them to hone their teaching skills working under the direction of a master teacher.
The Naples Music Club contributed funds to assist with these Immokalee music programs during the 2010-2011 school year.
The goal is to quantify the impact of these programs and to expand them to additional sites as money and qualified instructors become available. Assuming the pilot program is successful, the Club will work to help document that success and assist in applying for grants and/or donations until the public schools assume funding and clone the programs.
This pilot program adds a major new dimension to the Naples Music Club’s focus – it does not diminish the commitment to the scholarship program. Supporting the music program in Immokalee enables NMC to have an impact on academic achievement in a minority area, it instills a lifelong love of music in the students, and it helps to identify talented students who would never have had an opportunity to pursue music.