Music Appreciation: Elementary School Style; A Celloist and Violinist Share Their Passion with Students

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Byline: MARY MARAGHY

With her eyes closed, first-grader Lamija Hodzic swayed and rolled her head side to side.

As directed, she was listening and reacting to classical music, played by a celloist and violinist from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, performing on stage at her school, Kings Trail Elementary School.

It was a part of Project Listen, a program of the Riverside Fine Arts Association that provides in-school performances in Duval County elementary schools where more than half the students are on free or reduced lunch. The goal is to expose youth to musical expression.

It was Project Listen's first visit to Kings Trail, where more than 70 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch.

Stacy Aubrey prepped an audience of kindergartners and first- and second-graders who sat cross-legged on the school's auditorium floor. Many were non-English speaking students.

"Let the music take you places," said Aubrey, executive director of the Riverside Fine Arts Association. "It may make you feel like you are at a park or swimming."

Lamija, among the most obedient, rolled her shoulders and waved her hands conductor-like as she absorbed the sounds from the stage of celloist Nick Curry of the Southside and violinist Kyle Wehner of Orange Park.

Both are volunteers, veteran orchestra substitutes and music teachers, specially selected for the program because of their good rapport with students, Aubrey said.

The musicians in black suits played famous music by Wolfgang Mozart and then told students how the miracle child prodigy picked up a violin at age 4 and played a song, causing his astonished father to cry. …