The relaunch of a plucky University of Nebraska–Lincoln outreach project is offering Lincoln-area music students a one-of-a-kind education experience.
Twice a week, third graders from around Lincoln are taking part in the UNL/Lincoln Public Schools String Project at Park Middle School. Previously called the UNL String Project, the program is designed to strengthen elementary school strings instruction.
It was offered by UNL’s Glenn Korff School of Music from 2000 to 2006 and recent discussions led to it starting again this spring.
“My string colleagues and I had spoken about this over the years and how successful the program was,” said Karen Becker, professor of cello and founding director of the project. “A number of LPS string teachers had spoken to me over the years about the positive impact the UNL String Project had on the string programs in the schools. After all, students who were in the String Project, once they were old enough, were required to be in their school orchestra if they were going to be a part of our program. So this was a great benefit to LPS and to UNL as well as our music education string students.”
Becker said the project re-launch became a reality with support from Lance Nielson, music supervisor for LPS; John Richmond, director of the Korff School; string colleagues; and music education faculty.
The current class includes 58 elementary school students.
“These students are all in third grade and will hopefully continue playing and begin playing in their school orchestras next fall,” Becker said. “In August, we’ll begin recruiting another class of third graders, and we hope that all students currently enrolled will continue with String Project as well.”
The classes are taught by undergraduate string students in the Glenn Korff School of Music who are pursing degrees in music education. The UNL students include: Stephen Cantarero, Addie Hotchkiss, Madeline Long, Alex Rogers, Melanie Sigel and Leah Waldvogel. The UNL student teachers are supervised by master teacher Mike Swartz, a retired LPS string specialist.
“I enjoy watching our undergraduate teachers work with the students, knowing they are receiving even more hands-on experience than they are already receiving in the high quality music education program (at UNL),” Becker said. “And the third graders seem to be having a wonderful time learning from the undergraduate teachers as well as our highly qualified and experienced master teacher, Mike Swartz.
“This is a unique experience for everyone involved.”
The UNL/LPS Strings Project is part of the National String Project Consortium, which is affiliated with the American String Teachers Association. The project is one of more than 40 strings projects available across the United States.
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