Rare and ambitious music program debuts at JUSD
Music can be magic, and it all starts with violin. What's more, playing is not as hard as it looks, said JUSD stringed instrument teacher Ms. Jana McLemore: "Any student can do it, and every student is welcome in the program."
Since the fall of 2015, Jurupa Unified has offered beginning violin at Ina Arbuckle, Rustic Lane, Pacific Avenue, and West Riverside elementary schools. In 2016-17, the program will expand to Mission Middle School and add advanced violin and cello.
The goal, said Ms. McLemore, is to build every year toward an ambitious, 10-year plan for a full symphony orchestra at Rubidoux High School.
It is a trailblazing path, given that few schools in California offer such programs. "Jurupa Unified is a leader in the statewide effort to include strings" in K-12 education, said Dr. Carl Schafer, professor of music at Cal State Fullerton and a top advocate for stringed instrument instruction.
Music classes nurture students both emotionally and academically while imparting life skills such as dedication, determination and patience, said Ms. McLemore and Dr. Schafer.
"Not only is music a great emotional outlet for children and teens," Dr. Schafer said, "but research has shown that training in music can enhance a student's academic performance, as well."
Classes with Ms. McLemore also emphasize good posture, proper hand placement, and a fun learning environment. The teacher lets students compose their own songs, for example, and sometimes leads games such as hot potato or Simon Says to help teach musical notes and correct form.
Naturally, learning to make elegant music takes serious practice and hard work. But enjoyment comes with each step of success, Ms. McLemore said, adding that she loves the "aha!" moments when the lessons click for students: "It's so rewarding to hear them call out, 'Oh, I get that!' "
For more information, please contact Ms. Jana McLemore at email@example.com.