Monday, September 5, 2011

Abreu Fellows Visit Juneau, Alaska Music Matters

Abreu Fellows, Dan Berkowitz, Christine Witkowski and Alvaro Rodas, visit Juneau, Alaska Music Matters
Christine, Alvaro and Dan, who graduated with me in the first class of Abreu Fellows, made their first trip to the Great White North to visit me and see JAMM in action!

I had the honor of visiting their programs last year. At the Corona Youth Music Project in Queens, NY, Alvaro and his students shared their bucket band. And at YOLA at HOLA in Los Angeles, Dan and Christine gave me a glimpse of where our first graders might be in a year's time.

Even though the weather wouldn't cooperate, JAMM did not disappoint. The Abreu Fellows' trip was timed perfectly to coincide with Glacier Valley's paper violin-making night for kindergarten families. Both HOLA and Corona Youth Music Project include paper violin as a pedagogical step for students to develop respect, care and discipline for the instrument while giving them time to safely practice motor skills needed to play the real instruments.

Paper Violin Night at Glacier Valley Elementary School
Alvaro adapted JAMM's paper violin process to make his violins in Corona, and Christine employed the creative skills of an HOLA staff artist to design theirs. Dan included both processes in a document called the Paper Violin Cookbook: Recipes for Learning from Juneau, Alaska Music Matters and Youth Orchestra at Heart of LA. The cookbook is available on the Los Angeles Philharmonic YOLA Resource webpage so that initiatives all over the world can learn from our experiences.

The Abreu Fellows were a huge help that night, preparing materials, documenting the evening, translating for Spanish-speaking families and celebrating with our community the fact that we are part of a larger network. They also shared their perspective with a Juneau Empire reporter who wrote an article, Paper Violins Reach Worldwide.

An in usual Glacier Valley fashion, staff cam out in full force to help both nights. We also had community volunteers join in the fun: former mayor, Sally Smith; and school board members, Kim Pool and Sally Sadler, built extra violins for violins for families who couldn't make it. Thank you everyone for your support.

Alvaro teachers Bucket Band to Mr. Wyatt's 3rd grade class
The kindergartners weren't the only ones who benefited from the Abreu Fellows' visit that week. Alvaro taught bucket band to the 3rd graders. Christine and Dan performed duets for several classes and gave after-school lessons for two of our 5th grade brass students. In between, the Abreu Fellows observed our 1st grade violin classes, 2nd grade folk dancing and 4th & 5th grade Humanities class where they joined our students for the Stick dance - a dance that has traveled to El Sitema programs in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Scotland and Venezuela. Thank you, Michelle Quigg of World Music Drumming, for teaching this dance to me. Your gift has spread to hundreds of kids!

Christine and Dan perform duets for Glacier Valley classes

Aivine, Amy Bibb, Vaipuna, Dan & Christine rehearse after-school

Before Christine, Dan and Alvaro left, they experienced being tourists and saw why Juneau is such and incredible place to live. Thank you, friends, for visiting JAMM and Juneau, my home!

Visiting Mendenhall Glacier, the namesake of Glacier Valley Elementary School


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