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We Got To Let the Music Play ... Listen to the Music

Elementary music lessons return to the Framingham Public Schools this week thanks to the efforts of the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest and Centre House Music.

The elementary schools will be alive with the sound of music today, as the new after-school music lessons program, coordinated by the  begins this week.

The Framingham-based organization, with the help of , worked with the Framingham Public Schools to organize and offer a fee-based elementary school music program, after the School Administration and School Committee decided in the spring of 2010 to eliminate the elementary school music program for all fourth and fifth grade students.

More than 220 families signed their child up for the new after-school music program.

A good start, but far less than the number of students who participated in the free elementary music program in previous years. There are about 1,250 fourth and fifth graders in the Framingham Public Schools.

"Giving your child the gift of music is a wonderful gift," said Performing Arts Center of MetroWest (PAC) Executive Director Sherry Anderson, at an informational night for parents last month.

PAC is offering lessons at each of the elementary schools, at a cost of $195 for 20 lessons. 

Unfortunately, not every instrument is being taught at every elementary school. Five students were need for each class, to pay the teacher, said Anderson.

For that reason some classes were combined. For example, if there was one cello student at a school, he or she was added to the violin/viola class.

Anderson told parents  she would work with them to try to make the music lessons work with their child's schedule. She also told parents that if an instrument could not be taught at a specific elementary school, she would work with parents for a child to attend a class at another elementary school or try to organize a night class at PAC (located at 140 Pearl St.)

The  lessons at (PAC) are scheduled in the early evening, when parents might have an easier way to transport students to lessons.  PAC is offering these group lessons at the same price, same length of time, and with the same teachers who will be teaching in the elementary schools, according to an e-mail sent out by PAC.

The lessons at PAC are:

Percussion: Mondays:  approx. 6:30 p.m.

Violin and Viola:  Mondays:  approx. 6:30 p.m.

Saxophone, Clarinet and Flute:  (day(s) to be determined) 

Trumpets and Trombones:  Thursdays:  approx. 6:30 p.m.

Cellos:  Thursdays:  approx. 6:30 p.m.

"We will try our darnedest to make it work," she told parents assembled last month.

Anderson said if a mutually-agreed upon schedule can not be worked out, she would refund a family's $35 deposit.

Centre House Music is offering parents a special 4-month instrumental rental rate.

Flute, clarinet, violin, viola, trumpet, trombone and percussion kits could be rented at $45.95 for four months, and at $28.95 for month five and longer.

Alto saxophone, cello, oboe and piccolo could be rented at $79.95 for four months, and at $45.95 for month five and longer.

The Main Street music store also has a rent-to-purchase option for families.

Lessons at the individual elementary schools will last 45 minutes. McCarthy elementary, which had the largest number of students enroll in the program, will have lessons from 2:25 to 3:10 p.m. The other elementary schools will have lessons from 3:15 to 4 p.m.

Parents were given packets that explained the program and identified the day of the week for their child's lessons. A reminder e-mail was sent out a couple of days ago.

Make-up classes for holidays, early release days and snow days will be on Fridays, Anderson told parents.

Students are encouraged to practice 15 minutes daily.

Anderson told parents, at the Fuller Middle School informational meeting, that a concert at each school, is in the works for either May or June.

She also told parents that next year the program will likely look different than this year's program. Our future plans include a 45-minute lesson and a 45-minute band rehearsal, she said.

"It is important for students to play together," Anderson said.

For that reason, next year's music classes may be offered only one day a week at each school, Anderson said.

She told parents  it is her intention to know what day for music lessons at each school in the spring, so parents could make scheduling decisions.

The cost for next year's program likely would be slightly higher, she added; as a band director would need to be hired.

Framingham Public School music teacher Christine Dupuis, who teaches at Walsh and Cameron middle schools, told parents "My heart breaks to have students pay to learn music. The good news is when they enter middle school, it is free again."

 

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