Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Young Musicians Keep Playing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Young Musicians Keep Playing

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- The 4th-graders sat tall, feet on the floor, moving their right arms to the conductor's baton, sending up a melody that spilled from the cafeteria into the hallways, where frenzied scampering and shouting normally reign.

The violin, viola and cello players at the Community Charter School of Paterson were rehearsing after school on Tuesday in preparation for concerts this week, including one on Saturday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. They're part of the Paterson Music Project, a program that since 2013 has brought classical music to nearly 200 students in a city where music instruction has been sparse.

"Music can be used to empower students, whatever background they come from, but in particular, settings where they wouldn't have access to music education," said Elizabeth Moulthrop, the program director.

For two hours after school, three days a week, nearly 200 students at the charter school and School 1 learn music theory, music history, aural skills and choir singing, in addition to picking up a string instrument. The program is run by the Wharton Music Center and the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

The students play for their schools, parents and communities, at dinners, outdoor venues, Rotary Club meetings and concert halls. Last Wednesday, 40 of them joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on stage in a William Paterson University auditorium to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

During Tuesday's two-hour prep session for the concerts today and Saturday, students sang, played recorders, drummed on xylophones, and paused to snack on muffins and juice.

On their string instruments, they played "Heigh-Ho" and "Samba La Bamba" -- a bouncy song that one viola player said was her favorite.

"It's catchy and it gets in your head and it makes you want to dance," said Haylee Peguero, 9, who has been in the program for three years.

The Paterson Music Project emerged in 2013 amid a near-absence of music education in the city. Three years earlier, state aid for education declined by $820 million statewide, and the Paterson school budget squeezed funding for arts and music programs, leading to a wave of teacher layoffs, especially in elementary schools. …

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