Youth Symphony program focuses on Boys & Girls Club
The Hawaii Youth Symphony is launching a pilot program with the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii to bring an enjoyment of music to youths who otherwise might never be able to hold a musical instrument.
Many club members come from disadvantaged circumstances and have few musical opportunities, said Ruth Komatsu, who will lead the general music program on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons beginning today.
The program is geared toward children ages 7 to 10 and offers an introductory music curriculum in which students learn about different instruments and begin to read music. The Youth Symphony will provide instruments and supplies free.
Komatsu focuses on the life skills that music teaches, including teamwork, responsibility and communication. The bonus: "They learn music skills along the way," she said. "These kids can contribute as equals. ... It gives them a boost."
In 11 years, Komatsu has taught music to more than 2,000 children at Kalihi-Kai Elementary School, including establishing an after-school ukulele club.
Music does not discriminate, Komatsu said. Students might be struggling academically, but in a music classroom they have an opportunity to excel. This is especially true for children dealing with English as a second language, as learning music is not based on knowing English.
Niu Valley Middle School band director Wayne Fanning will also lead a band program for children over age 10. They'll learn the basics of note and rhythm reading and to play a band instrument solo and within a group. "The icing on the cake is if the older kids want to continue in the band program," added Komatsu.
The music opportunities fit in with the character development programs that the Boys & Girls Club offers for youth ages 7 to 17, said Melissa Trew, director of operations at the club.
Trew hopes that the program attracts children who might not opt to join their school's band, that some might find a hidden talent, experience a sense of belonging and accomplishment or simply make new friends.
"We never had such a valuable opportunity," she said. "The partnership with Hawaii Youth Symphony opens the kids up to the possibilities of music - of music being an integral part of their life."
To sign up for the music program, call the club at 949-4203 or Hawaii Youth Symphony at 941-9706. A $1 annual membership fee allows students access to all club programs.