Grant Brings Together College and Middle School Musicians

May 9, 2016 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

A DuPage Foundation grant designed to strengthen public school music education recently brought together band and orchestra pupils from a Glendale Heights middle school and students from Elmhurst College.

The $25,000 grant, from the Foundation’s JCS Fund, enabled Marquardt Middle School students to travel to Elmhurst, where they rehearsed side-by-side with the Elmhurst College music students and got a taste of what college life is like.

Elmhurst professors and students also traveled to Marquardt Middle School to hold clinics for the band and orchestra students, an experience that gave the college students the chance to develop their rehearsal strategies and to practice conducting.

It was a great learning opportunity not only for the middle school students but also for the Elmhurst students, many of whom are planning careers in music education.

“This is different from the on-campus experiences because I was able to work with a real orchestra and real students,” said Kirstin Rohrbach ’17, a violist from St. Charles who aspires to teach middle or high school orchestra.

Marquardt Orchestra Director Jen Baker and Band Director Ian Nevins conferred with Joanne May, assistant professor of music education and director of the Elmhurst College Philharmonic Orchestra, and with Music Education Professor Judy Grimes, director of Elmhurst College’s Concert Bands. They selected three pieces of music the middle school students would work on with the College students.

When the middle school band members came to Elmhurst, they took a brief tour of the campus and then rehearsed their pieces for Grimes, who offered suggestions on pacing, breathing and phrasing. After an hour of rehearsal, College band members arrived and took seats among the Marquardt students. After playing each piece together, the Elmhurst students gave one-on-one feedback to the middle schoolers next to them.

“This is amazing for our kids,” Nevins said.

The Elmhurst professors praised the middle schoolers’ ability and professionalism.

“It’s always good when college students can interact with real people in the field,” Grimes said. “I think it’s a very creative grant, and I would love to see this kind of interaction in every area.”

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