Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School's after-school strings program, new to the school as of this school year, is wrapping up its first semester. The students involved put on a concert at Gravely Performing Arts Center in early December. The students celebrated with cupcakes and gifted their strings teacher, Jaleeta Edwards, with flowers on Dec. 7.
District Arts Director Jane Dewey said the program includes 17 students and will continue into next semester, since it's a year-long program. The program is offered free of charge, and students can borrow from a library of instruments. It also gives students in grades 2-5 a space to come together and get to know each other, she said.
“The Danville Schools value the arts, and it’s important for us to offer opportunities like this," Dewey said.
The program is made possible through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and through a district partnership with the Heritage Area Strings Program (HASP), and the school hopes to be able to sustain the program. Dewey said the school found out about Edwards through HASP. Heather Gover, music teacher at Mary G. Hogsett Primary School and lead of the HASP parents' group, helped put the program together.
Edwards grew up in Danville and participated in HASP as a child. After she got her master's degree in Texas, she came back to Danville. She started working in HASP in surrounding school communities and then started leading Toliver's program.
“It’s a really rich place to be," she said about what brought her back to Danville. "There’s a lot of good things in this community that you don’t get in a big city. I kind of see that, so I just enjoy living here and giving back because it’s really cool for a student to see someone who’s been in the program come back and teach. It invests more in their learning because they see someone has gone through all the hoops and done all the practicing and went through all the hard stuff, and came back.”
For many students in this age group, participating in a program like this can be their first time learning to read music and playing an instrument.
“It’s a totally new experience for all of them, and some of them wouldn’t get the opportunity if it wasn’t in the school and the school didn’t have the class or the instruments to give to students," Edwards said. "It’s wonderful to see them grow as musicians.”
HERE'S WHAT SOME STUDENTS IN THE STRINGS PROGRAM HAD TO SAY:
Samuel Shepherd, 2nd grade, Cello
“I really like the strings program. The cello is cool. I never saw one before.”
Waylon Clark, 2nd grade, Cello
Waylon enjoys playing the cello and said he's always wanted to play it.
“It’s really fun because I get to see a lot of my friends.”
Annelynn Tucker, 3rd grade, Viola
“I think it’s really fun, because even if I haven’t known anything about viola, I know a lot about it now because Strings has taught me just a few songs, and it really inspires people to play string instruments.”
Annelynn has played a bit of guitar and piano before as well. She said she loves music and wants to keep studying it.
Jimmy Tucker, 2nd grade, Viola
Being in the strings program is Jimmy's first time reading and playing music. He said something he likes about the program is “The songs I can play.”
Willow Snyder, 4th grade, Violin
“I like playing the instrument because it sounds really pretty. Also, it sounds pretty when we all play together.”
“I like to see my friends when I come to class.”
Willow has also played the ukulele before.
Yamare Carter, 5th grade, Violin
“I like how there are so many different notes and different songs you can play with those notes.”
This is Yamare's first time playing an instrument. She's interested in the piano and guitar too. She's excited to keep doing the strings program next semester.
“I love doing violin, I love seeing my friends, and this was the best experience ever.”
Ava Layne, 3rd grade, Violin
"Mary Had a Little Lamb" is Ava's favorite song she's learned through the strings program. She enjoyed playing in the program's concert.
Maya Perdomo, 3rd grade, Violin
“We learn a lot, and when we mess up, we redo it again.”
Maya has also played the ukulele and piano. She said music makes her happy.
Ella Russell, 2nd grade, Violin
Ella likes learning new songs, and this is her first time playing an instrument.
“I think I want to keep doing it.”
Gavin Feltenbarger, 5th grade, Violin
“I get to see some of my friends. I like playing a bunch of instruments. I already play guitar, piano and drums.”
He said about playing music, “I feel like that’s the creative side of me.”
- Danville Independent Schools
- strings program