2009-05-29 / Community

Rockaway Kids Name That Tune For Music Memory Program

We all remember the popular game show called "Name That Tune." Now, imagine years later, elementary school students being able to experience a similar game while sitting in the seats of the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University with a live orchestra performing. This is the opportunity that several third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders from all around the city had on Friday, May 1. It is thanks to a program held by the Riverside Symphony called Music Memory, which now reaches over fifty schools in the five boroughs for the third through sixth grades.

The program is an extraordinary initiative that seeks to foster a lifelong love for fine music in children. Over the course of the school year the teachers introduce sixteen different pieces which are mostly classical, but also include jazz, opera and choral music. Each piece comes with a beautiful visual: a music "map" that is shown to the children. With it they learn several music terms and at the same time the map helps them internalize each piece. Lessons for each selection incorporate all curriculum areas including history, math and literacy. For the competition, a team of five students and one alternate is selected. As the Riverside Symphony plays an excerpt from a piece, the students in the groups have to identify the title of the selection and the composer. The children are challenged at the end with four tie breakers.

The whole experience is thrilling for the children; the challenge of the game and the excitement of the live orchestra. As evidenced at the competition, the students show off their newly acquired knowledge by identifying the works and their composers, often on the basis of a melodic fragment, or even a single chord.

This year's event was a great success. Thanks to funding from the Rockaway Music and Arts Council, which has been supporting this program for several years, P.S.114, P.S.47, P.S.104, P.S.106 and various other schools from the area were able to participate. The schools were represented by a wonderful group of students including third, fourth and fifth graders. The children worked hard studying the pieces both in school and at home. Their hard efforts paid off, as all the local schools that participated placed with either gold or silver medals in the competition. Of the citywide winners P.S.106 and P.S.114 took third place and P.S.47 walked away with first place. All of the children participating in the Music Memory Program, however, are winners. In addition to the ribbons and plaques awarded, they all take home with them the greatest gift of all. A gift that they can certainly keep forever: a love and deep appreciation for music. That gift is priceless.

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