Students Introduced to Violins

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2015 12:00 am

Fifth graders learn violin
By GORDON JACKSON The Brunswick News -

ST. MARYS — Judy Stipp held her ears in pain Thursday when a group of St. Marys Elementary School fifth graders played a Christmas song on violins. It was the fourth lesson for the students, and it was apparent none had ever played the instrument until several days ago.



Stipp, an assistant instructor from the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra, walked among the students, reminding them how to hold the instrument properly. “You can do that,” she said. “I know you can.” The next attempt to play “Twinkle, Twinkle” was much better, eliciting praise from Stipp and Abigail Poirier, the youth orchestra’s music director. Instructors from the orchestra have spent the week at St. Marys Elementary as part of the STRING-on! program that brings strings instructions to the area.

It’s the first time the program has been offered in Camden County schools, said Phoebe Floyd, a school district spokeswoman. The program was funded through a grant from the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation through a donation by Dr. and Mrs. John Halsey, said JoAnn Davis, chair of the orchestra’s musician development committee.

“This is the youth symphony’s first time offering this program in Camden County,” Davis said. “We hope it is not our last.” Violins were chosen as the instrument to introduce youths to music because of their size and dominance in orchestras, she said. In all, 95 students received lessons this week, Floyd said. Poirier said the students have been surprised at how quickly they have learned some of the basics to playing a violin. The program has been offered in Glynn County schools.

“Whenever we do STRING-on! in an elementary school in Glynn County, there is a jump in the number of students who sign up for the sixth grade strings classes that are offered in three of their four middle schools,” Davis said. “And I always get calls from parents asking about lessons.” The program is available to fifth graders at any Coastal Georgia school, public or private, upon request, she said. “We are trying to de-mystify these instruments and the music one can play on them,” she said. “And a few hear the sound and are hooked forever.”

Fifth-grade teacher Marlena Brazell joined her students in taking the lessons and said it was lots of fun. “They loved it,” she said of the lessons. “They’re very excited.”