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Beat Goes On for 450 Students


Second-graders found the beat playing together on tube-like instruments called boomwhackers, tubano drums, glockenspiels and xylophones to the song, “Welcome back! I’m glad you’re here. Come and listen with your ear!”

A second-grader laughs out loud while learning a rhythm
A second-grader laughs out loud while learning a rhythm

Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Youth Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center received $1,457 to purchase new instruments for the young fives through second grade music classes.

The new instruments provide the chance for group activities like making sound effects and creating songs to go along with children’s literature, said music teacher Tami Nelson, who is planning many music-making opportunities for her 450 students, including public performances.

“It’s really nice and it’s awesome we get new drums and new stuff to play,” said second-grader Arianna Wheeler. “We were needing some new stuff. It was nice of them to give us new instruments.”

A student does a little dance while playing the glockenspiel
A student does a little dance while playing the glockenspiel

The majority Hispanic district has a large number of students who speak English as a second language. Through music, they can express themselves non-verbally, Nelson said.

Also, many students aren’t exposed to instruments outside of school. Many families in the community do not have access to instruments in their homes or the funds to purchase instruments for their own personal use, Nelson added.

CONNECT

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Students are using the instruments in class and for performing
Students are using the instruments in class and for performing

Students take turns on the xylophones
Students take turns on the xylophones

Music teacher Tami Nelson’s class claps to the beat
Music teacher Tami Nelson’s class claps to the beat

For many students, the only opportunity to play music is at school
For many students, the only opportunity to play music is at school

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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