Juniper School elementary students practiced new rhythms together on xylophones, drums, pianos and other instruments this week as part of Stillwater Music’s recent expansion.
The nonprofit group’s remodeled space in the Crossroads Center made it possible to offer additional classes for students at Juniper, Mountain Middle School and Animas High School, said Jeroen van Tyn, executive director of the nonprofit.
“Playing in a musical group is the ultimate human collaboration,” van Tyn said.
Stillwater worked with the charter schools to provide the classes because the offerings fall in line with its mission to offer music to schools that may not be able to include a music curriculum.
Music encourages brain development, social skills, leadership and fosters an ability to deal with uncertainty, among many other life skills, he said.
Stillwater hired eight new instructors this fall to teach the new classes. It is now offering about 72 hours of classroom instruction per week – an increase of about 30 percent.
The agreement made sense for Juniper because the school planned to offer music classes but would have had to contract with individual teachers, van Tyn said.
Juniper students will take six different classes from Stillwater, such as singing, strings and movement and body percussion classes. Third- through fifth-grade Juniper students participate in bands. But kindergarten, first- and second-grade students are a bit too young for band, so the nonprofit is teaching hand percussion classes for them, he said.
The partnership with Mountain Middle School has been in place for a long time, but it was adjusted this year to serve fourth and fifth grades, which were added to the school this year.
Animas High School’s a cappella vocal ensemble will start in the spring, and it could become a standing elective depending on student interest, van Tyn said.