Huntsville Symphony Orchestra teaches violin to 3rd graders - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville Symphony Orchestra teaches violin to 3rd graders

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Students from Rolling Hills Elementary attend a lesson. Students from Rolling Hills Elementary attend a lesson.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra has graced its audience with music in the concert hall for decades.

But for nearly 15 years, the HSO has also brought music to eager students in the classroom.

"They are so excited and they are so in-tune with what's going on," said HSO violinist Christie Weber.

Weber is among several HSO members who teach free introductory violin lessons to third grade students in Huntsville City Schools and school systems in Decatur, Athens, Hartselle and Scottsboro.

Weber teaches violin to third graders at Rolling Hills Elementary School. The program was on its second lesson on Thursday, and students were attentive as ever.

"We start off with box violins and not the real thing for the first three lessons to teach them how to hold and care and do all that stuff and then we bring in the real ones," Weber said.

The lessons are taught in a modified "Suzuki method" that is described as a hand-on approach to learning the instrument. Students learn how to properly hold the instrument and eventually are taught how to play a song.

"There are lots of games, lots of songs, lots of really fun activities for the children," Weber said.

HSO is able to host the program thanks to the help of several benefactors within the community.

Eight sets of violins were purchased with donations funded by a long list of organizations, including the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild, The Jane K. Lowe Charitable Foundation and the Jones Valley PTA among many others.

"With this program, we want to reach all students in north Alabama regardless of background, remove obstacles to learning, enhance Alabama state curriculum and provide opportunity for excellence," said HSO Director of Education Julie Noles.

Rolling Hills Elementary Principal Allen Malone has been involved with the program for years. He said the ten-lesson program may end within five weeks, but the impression on his students lasts a lifetime.

"It allows them to do something not only with their head or their knowledge, but also with their hands," Malone said.

Weber said she is amazed that students are able to play the violin after the ten-lesson course. Part of the joy, she said, is seeing students continue their interest in music.

"Even if they don't stay with the violin, a lot of times when they get to middle school and they pick up a band instrument; it's not such a foreign instrument," Weber said.

Students perform a recital for parents and teachers at the end of the program. Those wishing to continue music lessons also have the opportunity to study in the HSO's After School Program.

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