Bringing the Band to Brisbane

By: Raul Alcaraz, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, raul@race.com

Bringing the Band to Brisbane
By: Raul Alcaraz, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, raul@race.com
As a trustee on the Brisbane School District Board, part of my duties includes staying in touch with the community and sharing information about what is happening locally. At the Brisbane School District Board meeting on March 13, I witnessed the Art and Music Parcel Tax in action and was blown away by the presentation given by Ms. Richardson, our District Music Teacher. Ms. Richardson, who started with the school district in 2016 and travels between Panorama, Brisbane Elementary and Lipman Middle School, presented on the “String Pilot Program”, a program she started at Lipman Middle School at the beginning of the school year.
Ms. Richardson explained that the reason for starting a string orchestra is supported by the fact that “A string orchestra will allow for the maximum engagement of students because of the similarities of techniques across the string instrument family. A beginning band would consist of three instrument families with very different playing techniques and string instruments would allow for a better grouping of students and smoother transitions. Instructional time spent explaining an aspect of string playing would result in an excellent use of time as all students would be able to benefit from the information. Beginning bands require a bit more time to grasp the different concepts of instruments.” As she continued, she explained that starting at Lipman seemed to be the optimal place to get things running as she sees the 6th grade students 4 times a week as opposed to the 2 times a week she would see them in the 5th grade. This allows for more time and practice throughout the 8-week session.
In the presentation there were several videos of the students practicing and performing. You could easily see the excitement among the students as well as the dedication of Ms. Richardson.
Ms. Richardson explained that with all the amazing teachers and lessons the school district provides, music and instruments add a new depth to learning. It provides the students a chance to learn the ability to read music and gives them a greater sense of control over the sound being produced.
It was a very exciting and proud moment for me to see the students having fun while learning and performing. Although Ms. Richardson says that she has never seen such engagement with any of her previous 6th grade elective experiences, she recognizes the challenges with the program with regard to continued access to instruments. At this time, the program has rented 18 instruments for the children and based on the before and after videos that we were able to see in the presentation the program is a success.
The video presented by Ms. Richardson showed students enjoying their musical journey, many showing interest in developing their newfound talents and skills.
Fellow board members and I were very impressed with the concept, execution and results of the program. We are excited to see what the potential next steps and opportunities are. I believe that the addition of a band program would be a strong compliment to the range of great programs that the Brisbane School District already offers.