2008-10-24 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's Rockaway Music and Arts Council

by Sharon Gabriel

Well, to start off this column, I have to give you Chapter "2½" of my experiences with our local cable company. Actually, this has nothing directly to do with them, but to do with the gremlins that invaded the computer system at The Wave.

To understand what happened, I brought my column to The Wave last week on a disc, which I always do, and I keep a printed copy for myself so I know exactly what I wrote.

Somewhere between the disc and The Wave computer a very important word was changed in the column. If you remember I had written that a very nice person at the cable company was extremely helpful and I wanted to thank that person so I had written the following in my column, "Thank you again "D" for all your help." What appeared in The Wave was "Thank you again "AD"..." I have no idea who AD is and the person whom I was thanking was probably shaking his head not understanding whom I was thanking. So, once again, "Thank you D." Chapter Three will be this Wednesday morning when our cable company is once again coming to my home to install my TV cable. I'll let you know what happens.

Now, to get back to the business of the RMAC. Over the years I have written about the opera and music programs that we have in our local schools and I will now introduce you to Bernice Myers and Myra Berger who arrange the Music Memory and the opera programs in our schools.

Each Fall Bernice and Myra contact many of our public schools to see if they would be interested in participating in either program.

Over the years many of the schools have participated and this means that the teachers must first learn the programs and then present them to the students. This is no easy task, but so many teachers have participated and the program is now presented in more and more schools on the peninsula.

The following are the words of Bernice Myers, who gives you an idea of how well our children have done with the Music Memory program.

"The 2008 Music Memory competition sponsored by The Riverside Symphony Orchestra was held at The Skirball Center for The Performing Arts. These citywide finals held on May 28 saw teams from all five boroughs compete for gold, silver and bronze medals.

This 9th annual event was dedicated to the memory of Barbara Eisenstadt and Martin Penzer, both of whom played vital roles in furthering the growth and robustness of the program and for the opportunity they brought to Rockaway school children.

Under the sponsorship of The Rockaway Music & Arts Council, six new teachers in four Rockaway schools participated in the Music Memory program.

In addition to PS 47, 104 and 114, who come away with medals each year, PS 106 entered the competition and won medals for each of the two groups participating. RMAC continues to expand this innovative classroom learning program."

Several years ago I was invited with several other RMAC board members to watch a program in PS 180 where the Music Memory was part of the assembly.

I was just amazed at what these children were able to do in pointing out the music notes on a screen as a piece of classical music was played.

Thanks to their teachers and the late Martin Penzer, who was so instrumental in working with the RMAC, these children were learning a type of music that they probably never heard in their homes. opefully, as they grow, it will broaden their acceptance of music other than what they listen to on the radio, CDs, iPods, etc.

We would hope that more of our peninsula schools will participate in the program as it widens the learning experience of the children.

When I went to our local schools, we had an assembly day each week and you had to wear a white middie blouse with a red tie with a sailor's knot and a navy blue skirt.

For the boys it was a white shirt, red tie and navy blue pants. You lined up in the hall and marched into the auditorium to listen to records, yes records, of music by Saint-Saens and Ravel and others (those are the ones I remember at my advanced age).

Once you learned the music by listening, week after week, you were then expected to be able to name the composer without any help from the teachers.

The classes obviously made an impression, of which I wasn't even aware, because today I enjoy most types of music including classical.

To this day, I thoroughly enjoy the piano and wish my parents would have been able to afford to send me for lessons those many years ago.

Oh well, next week we will have Chapter 3 of our cable series. Bring popcorn. In any case, it probably will not be pretty, not with the cable company involved.

See you around the neighborhood.

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