Creating Learners through Pre-K Literacy/Violin
After 38 successful years of teaching children in Ohio and Florida, I became intrigued with brain research. At the time, studies showed that the left and right brain actually become better connected if a child plays the violin or piano before the age of 5, and that this physiological development enables the child to use more of his or her potential.
And so was born the idea that would take me into the next phase of my career -- a Pre-K Literacy/ Violin Program that provides low income children a greater chance to succeed in school. The program is designed to help children learn how to develop their language, listening, social, developmental and motor skills, and dramatically increase their kindergarten readiness.
The impact of the MusicScores! program on the children is impressive. While the collection of quantitative data only recently has begun, and therefore no longitudinal results are yet available, both qualitative and initial quantitative data suggest great promise.
To cost-effectively create learners, by providing violin instruction that enhances literacy and focus, as well as social and motor skills, for pre-schoolers.
Community non-profits stepped forward to provide funding for instruments and instructors. Working from the Collier County Kindergarten Readiness Skills List, I determined what could be taught through the violin, then proposed teaching violin to four year olds in local pre-schools that housed at risk children.
The results were both immediate and astonishing. The students had great success in mastering simple open string songs, which gave them not only a sense of achievement, but also greater self-confidence in their regular classrooms.
In 2008, the Guadalupe Early Childhood Center in Immokalee, Florida requested I to bring the Pre-K Literacy/Violin Program to their center – virtually all of whom have limited to no English language skills, and live well below the poverty line. Now in its seventh year, the Guadalupe Early Childhood Center program has 96 four-year old children enrolled in the literacy/violin program; they are taught by five FGCU Bower School of Music students. For the little ones, the curriculum has proven extremely beneficial for skills and behaviors designed to promote success in learning: listening, focus, self-discipline, pre-reading, recognition of patterns, fine motor skills, memory and abstract thinking. Rather than proceeding to kindergarten unprepared, nearly all of them ranked in the top quartile of kindergarten readiness. At the same time, the college students are learning patience and honing their teaching strategies.
In 2014, through the generosity of private donors, the Collier County programs have expanded to include 330 four-year olds in seven sites. The ultimate goal is to offer the program in all Collier Head Start Pre-K programs, and create a replicable program that may be expanded to other communities.
I have come to believe that nothing is more important to children’s education than assuring they are ready for school and have a positive first year. It is much, much easier to prepare students for kindergarten than to help older students improve their studies after they have experienced years of failure.
MusicScores!: A Music Teacher's Journey to Pre-K Literacy
P.O. Box 112383 Naples, FL 34108