On Saturday mornings something special happens. Students from Riverview West Side School of Excellence gather together to make music and learn valuable life skills. They reconnect after a long summer apart. They play musical games and explore their instruments. They are challenged and they grow in incredible ways. They are Harmony.
Normally a before-school program that meets three days a week, Harmony breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for students to develop a love of music and become strong learners and leaders. Harmony provides third through fifth grade students fantastic music instruction and access to instruments. This supplements their normal education during the school day at Riverview. A direct feeder program into GTCYS’ school-year orchestras, Harmony students are excelling at what they do.
Like many of us, Harmony was unable to rehearse in their normal capacity last spring and summer. But earlier this fall they started up again, with adjusted weekly rehearsals on Saturday mornings. Harmony Manager Samuel Phillips reflects on how great it is to be together again. “It brings joy to both the students and staff alike. Education is about consistent relationships. When that consistency is broken, you begin to miss it, and the inherent value it brought grows. When Harmony started again, everyone felt an increased sense of gratitude.”
Harmony is an incredible place for students to grow musically. During a Harmony rehearsal, students learn how to properly play an instrument and the technique that goes along with it. They review things like scales, note names, and rhythm patterns. This lays a foundation of musical knowledge on which they can build. In addition to technical skills, students also learn how to rehearse in an orchestra and the discipline required to advance on an instrument. And their hard work is paying off. Eleven current Harmony students and Harmony alumni are now playing in Philharmonia East. This transition from Harmony into a GTCYS orchestra is the next step of their musical journey that will shape their futures.
Like all of GTCYS’ programs, Harmony also teaches important lifelong skills. Through focused rehearsals and individual practice, Harmony students are learning discipline and confidence. Students also benefit from simply being with each other. When they rehearse together, they’re developing a communal mindset and working together towards a common goal. They’re also becoming more confident and taking pride in themselves and Harmony.
Harmony students are playing together, learning together, and growing together. And in a time when we are often apart, this togetherness is especially valued. Again, Harmony Manager Samuel Phillips reiterates just how important Harmony is right now. “The average student doesn’t have the opportunity for normal in-person contact. Harmony allows each student to have community through the joy of music making in the midst of uncomfortable and trying times.”
Harmony is made possible with support from generous funders including Aroha Philanthropies, D’Addario Foundation, and The Sheltering Arms Foundation. You can give the gift of music to GTCYS students and join our community of donors. Contribute today!