As a result of a three-way partnership between Pacific Symphony, Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) and the academic support program, THINK Together, more than 150 fourth- and fifth-grade Santa Ana students from Diamond, Harvey and King elementary schools are participating in "Santa Ana Summer Strings," a new program that introduces students to the violin.
The pilot program provides the students with access to intensive summer instruction. Taking place June 20-July 31, Summer Strings is designed to foster creativity, discipline, perseverance and self-esteem, as well as develop teamwork skills, while strengthening school music programs and building parental support for them. At key points throughout the five weeks, students perform mini-concerts at their school sites for family and friends. The program culminates with a public performance (more below).
"We've dreamed for years about bringing hundreds of young children together to experience the joy of making music together in a large group," says Pam Blaine, vice president of education and community outreach for the Symphony. "By combining resources with these two great partners, we're accomplishing that dream!"
"We are excited to partner with Pacific Symphony and the THINK Together organization to provide this incredible music enrichment opportunity for our students," says SAUSD Superintendent Thelma Meléndez, Ph.D. Meléndez and the SAUSD board of education have worked hard to maintain a strong music program in the district through very difficult economic times because they believe in the importance and value that music makes in students' lives and education.
The program includes an average of five hours of violin instruction per week via daily instruction provided by SAUSD music specialists at the elementary school sites. Each Thursday afternoon, all 150+ students are to be bused to one site to participate in a two-hour workshop with Symphony musicians (seven musicians per week) and rehearse as a full group.
"It is empowering to witness the life-changing experiences that are created for students through the summer learning program," says Natalia Flores, THINK Together's director of learning programs in Orange County. "The Santa Ana Summer Strings is an extension of the summer learning program that is literally changing the lives of children. THINK Together is honored and fortunate to have great partners like SAUSD and Pacific Symphony who believe in true collaboration for the benefit of our students."
The Summer Strings program culminates with the students providing pre-concert entertainment at the Symphony's July 29 Target Symphony in the Cities concert/event taking place for the first time at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, with Symphony musician coaches performing along with the students. Students' families and friends are receiving transportation to the park, so they may see their children (who are going to be easily identifiable in bright red SASS t-shirts) perform and attend the concert with them.
"It sounds like a great opportunity for our students to showcase their talents and perform in a bigger venue," says SAUSD's Board President Rob Richardson. "In the Summer Strings program, elementary school children are learning the basic principles of playing the violin, culminating in the live concert performance at the Orange County Great Park. This is an experience that will remain with students and families for many years to come."