South Coast Youth Group Strives to Fill Gaps in Elementary Music Programs | School zone

In spring 2020, nearly 200 students from Goleta Union School District lost their school’s orchestral program due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaving junior high school students musically unprepared for the next levels of their musical journey.

“In the past, by the time kids had completed the elementary program, they would read music and, on some level, were ready to enter college,” said Sandy Adams, former program co-director for the GUSD group. “But because these programs stopped in schools, there are very, very few students coming to college who can play the instrument, so high schools will have to start over as a beginner’s program.

“It will also have an impact on high schools. This will change the experience level of the schools and probably reduce the quality level of the groups a bit.

Seeing this gap in music education, Adams and the other co-director of the GUSD group, Nancy Mathison, launch the Group of young people from the south coast provide fair and consistent access to a music curriculum for all elementary school students in grades four to six from Gaviota to Carpinteria.

“If we think about preparing kids for these life skills like math, reading – whatever they want to do well as an adult – we start them young,” Mathison told Noozhawk. “The same is true with music. We let them experiment a number of things to show them what they’re really passionate about, and sometimes it’s just too late to do that in college.

Students in the program will learn instruments such as flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and snare from professional musicians.

Mathison and Adams received a grant from the Irene F. Anderson Foundation to fully fund the first semester of the South Coast Youth Band, which will launch on January 24 and run through May 18.

“We were so grateful because the grant meant we can focus on trying to get the word out to students instead of trying to fundraise,” Mathison said.

The South Coast Youth Band program also received a grant from its partner the Santa Barbara Educational Foundation, she added.

The cost to the student for the first semester is $ 100, and Mathison said she hopes to keep the price this low through funding for future grants.

“Our goal is to try to keep this accessible as much as possible,” she said.

Although the program mainly targets students from GUSD and Hope School District, which directly feed the Goleta Valley High School and La Colina High School Group programs, the South Coast Youth Band will be open to grades 4-6 students at Gaviota’s private, charter and home schools in Carpinteria.

The program will be hosted by a number of professional musicians and classes will be held at the Presbyterian Church in Goleta, according to Mathison. As classes begin the week of Jan. 24, students can come meet the teachers, ask questions about the instruments, and make their instrument choice Jan. 19 at the Presbyterian Church in Goleta from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Mathison said. .

Staff Nick Rail Music will provide rental instruments to students, and parents will also be able to rent instruments and purchase supplies themselves.

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Students from the Goleta Union School District perform in a pre-pandemic spring concert. (Photo provided)

Mathison said the program will also try to find instruments for students whose parents cannot afford to rent them, and will offer scholarships to children participating in free or discounted meal programs.

The program will group beginners by instrument, who will have one hour of lessons with a specialist player, and intermediate and advanced students will have an hour and a half for group rehearsal, according to Mathison.

The South Coast Youth Band are planning to hold two concerts at the end of May to showcase the skills of the students, and next year the group will perform in several local concerts and parades, Adams said.

“Our plan is to do our spring concert in May at Goleta Valley Junior High and again at La Colina, so the kids can get used to the campus, and that will give them a band in their future college,” Mathison added. .

Mathison and Adams will be co-directors of the group’s new program. Mathison took over as program director of the GUSD group in 2014 and previously taught music at Santa Barbara Unified School District, Westmont College and his own private studio. Adams has many years of experience teaching woodwinds with GUSD, the Well done from Santa Barbara Symphony! and the Nick Rail Band Camp, among others, and served as a group principal at El Camino and Hollister schools.

Click here to learn more about the South Coast Youth Band.

– Noozhawk editor Jade Martinez-Pogue can be contacted at . (JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Corina C. Butler