Photo by John F. Russell
First-grader Jacob VanDerWerf concentrates on his notes during the Strings in Concert performance at the Lowell Whiteman Primary School on Friday afternoon.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Steamboat Springs Mary Anne Fairlie gets a thrill out of watching children play music.
"Not only are they adorable, but they're superstars," said Fairlie, the teacher of the Music Through Strings program at Lowell Whiteman Primary School. "They're normal kids that play music very well. We treat them all as equals, and this shows that any kid can play beautiful music."
Fairlie's - and the children's - hard work was on display Friday, when Lowell Whiteman Primary School hosted a Strings in Concert performance for parents, fri-
ends and family.
More than 60 students in kindergarten through eighth grade performed music selections including Mozart, folk and Christmas tunes such as "Jingle Bells."
Preparation for the holiday program began more than four months ago. All Lowell Whiteman students play a stringed instrument as part of the school's curriculum, Fairlie said. After students choose to play violin, viola, cello or bass, Fairlie helps them choose a piece of music to perform that will challenge their abilities.
"It's all based on something that will challenge them," Fairlie said. "It's something that they will have to work to accomplish."
The results of the hard work were evident. With more than 20 pieces of music being played, including 13 solo performances, parents and children alike left the program with smiles on their faces.
"It's always fun to work with the children during the process," Fairlie said. "But to see the finished product is extremely gratifying. It's pretty amazing."
Fairlie said she also uses a modified Suzuki program to help children with the music. The modified Suzuki takes methods from how children learn to speak. Instead of having the musician learn to read music first, the children learn to play just by listening to the music, much like a baby learns to speak from hearing words.
The results, Fairlie said, are astounding.
"There are so many studies that show their brains are expanded through playing," she said. "Each year I am surprised at how good they are. It's a new and great experience every year."