■ By Anne Pechanec Ancheta / Contributed
MUSICA! kids, the kids who live where safety is at a premium, come to play music as beginners and as experienced players. They choose to come every day after school and they learn to play violin, viola, cello or string bass; instruments without keys or frets, instruments that demand a lot of attention to detail. They willingly come after a long day at school to make music with their friends, to get better at listening, at hearing the differences in pitch and rhythm. They love pop music and they love classical music and they love folk music: if it’s playable, then it’s fun. Their learning is enhanced in the deep practice of music making and the two parts of the brain from which reading and playing music are centered. Their music and their class is their sanctuary from danger or fear.
They are mentored by students in high school and college who show them how to go forward with their interests and technique. They are taught by the kind of professional player who loves sharing the development of their artistic skills. They are supported by parents who help out and support their practice habit. They get to show off their skills in public concerts where they and their families can be proud. At least 20 of these students have been in this free, daily, after school program for more than three years and some as long as four years. At least six are now trying out for national youth orchestras. Each day they can find safety in the beauty of making music for an hour or two with friends. Each day they can find their sanctuary in the privacy of their own listening and performance.
MUSICA!, a non-profit project of the Diamond Valley Arts Council, has been delivering programs like this after school program to our valley since 1998. This MUSICA! BRIDGE and ECHO program, initiated in 2013, is an el sistema style program; free to a population which would not otherwise get it, providing the best of professional musicians as teachers, and established with the express purpose of building community “wellness.” It is funded entirely by individual and grant donations. It partners with Diamond Valley San Jacinto Unified School District, the SJUSD ASES program, Mount San Jacinto Community College and Idyllwild Arts Academy. MUSICA! delights in bringing music and pride to our valley.