Renaissance City Winds inspires A-C Valley students with American

Photo: Pittsburgh’s Renaissance City Winds performing for A-C Valley Elementary Students.

Renaissance City Winds inspires A-C Valley students with American Music

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts brought a program of American music into the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Schools presented by teaching artists in Pittsburgh’s Renaissance City Winds, two of whom were members of the Grammy Award winning Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), oboist Scott Bell and clarinetist Jack Howell.  Other RCW musicians were flutist Barbara O’Brien, French hornist Jason Allison and bassoonist Jim Whipple, who served as program host. In the community areas outside classrooms for grades K-6, the musicians presented three workshops demonstrating their instruments and performing short works by American composers, some by women and two by composers in their twenties - not much older than A-C Valley students. The musicians answered students’ questions about their instruments, when they began studying, where they had travelled in the world as musicians, and how much they practiced. Comparing music to athletics the answer that mastery takes 10,000 hours was a surprise! Thanks to the inspiring work of elementary band director and general music teacher, Karen Hetrick, when the fifth and sixth graders were asked how many played an instrument, two-thirds of the students raised their hands.  Each year twenty-five to thirty elementary band students move up to the Junior High School.  In the afternoon the musicians performed two assembly concerts, in the Elementary gymnasium and High School auditorium, reaching every student from K to 12. As PSO member Scott Bell, Pittsburgh Symphony Oboist, was walking through the hall of the elementary school during the lunch break, a third grade student came up and thanked him for coming to the school and asked, “Will you come back tomorrow?”  That says it all.  ARCA is grateful to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and its loyal Members and donors for their support of this Educational ArtReach program directed by Board member Kathy Soroka.

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