May 4, 2013 2:55:10 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
To the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, sounds emanating from 13 pre-K students at Coleman Head Start recently were music to the ears. Since February, 13, the children have been learning to not only love music, but how to play the violin and recorder.
Through a grant from the Delta Foundation, the Columbus-Lowndes County chapter of the sorority coordinated free music education for the children. Violin classes were taught by Diane Ford, a Suzuki-trained instructor. Recorder classes were taught by sorority member Tavetia Hughes, a retired music educator who also served as chair of the project.
The chapter's program -- Music Used for Success in Children (M.U.S.I.C.) -- was designed to expose youngsters to music at an early age.
"We know there are a lot of statistics and research that show how arts improve children's academic ability, social skills and creativity, and we wanted to do something to improve the arts programs for early-age children," said Hughes of the community-based sorority that's been known for promoting the arts since its inception in 1913.
The group hopes to provide the course for next year's pre-K children. It will also pursue grants and other funding to continue what was started with this semester's students as they move on to kindergarten. Organizers know it will be a heavy task financially but are not deterred.
"We don't want to just start the program and leave it that way; we really want to follow these students until at least the fourth grade to see the impact," explained Hughes. She hopes parents will see positive results academically and creatively in their sons and daughters and want to continue their exposure to music. The sorority would also like to include more parents and school teachers in the classes, so they can, in turn, help more children.
Coleman teacher M.E. Williams-Brewer said, "Music has a profound effect on children and their development, vocal or instrumental. It's considered a calming process. We really hope this amenity will be accessible to our students again in the upcoming year."
Course instructors were impressed with the skills 4-year-olds acquired in just 10 sessions.
"I saw tremendous progress, from left/right coordination (and that is the beginning of being able to read), to being able to follow instructions -- not just verbal instructions; they were also able to follow visually by watching what we were doing."
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is an international public service organization founded in 1913 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. This year the sorority celebrates 100 years of public service to the community. Among other projects, the group has hosted a literary café, provided sponsorships for students to attend the Columbus Arts Council's Young Peoples Artist Series, and mentored a high school group called Delta Gems.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.