Donation helps enrich students through music

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/11/22

OAKLEAF – An elementary school music program continues to thrive through grants and teaching that moves outside a classroom.

The Oakleaf Village Elementary School music department, which caters …

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Donation helps enrich students through music

Posted

OAKLEAF – An elementary school music program continues to thrive through grants and teaching that moves outside a classroom.

The Oakleaf Village Elementary School music department, which caters to about 1,000 K-6 students, is led by Paula Summers. 

The program recently received $2,000 from the Paul E. & Klare N. Reinhold Foundation.

The school has a piano lab funded by grants and donations. Summers said her process involves getting students to enjoy making music with others and on their own.

Grateful for the foundation’s donation, Summers called grants a necessity.

“The instruments that we use, not just pianos, but xylophones, drums, bells, and ukuleles, plus the trips that we take, are all thanks to generous groups like the Reinhold Foundation that are willing to invest in the future, our students,” Summers said.

Reinhold Foundation Executive Director Amy Parker said Summers had an exceptional ability to involve students in music no matter their interest or talent. She called the program a win-win for the community and student experiences.

“(Summers) is really passionate about music and community service,” Parker said. “It was really brilliant how she put the program together.”

A key function of Summers’ program is outside the classroom via field trips. Children need social connections, Summers said, especially after enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. And this doesn’t extend only to their generation, she said.

Students in the program take trips to shows and the Benton House, a senior center in Oakleaf. Summers meticulously prepares her students, whether it’s how to interact with a person or challenges residents face.

“The students are able to show the residents what they’ve learned using our roll-up keyboards, and the residents can share any musical background or memories they have as well. We often close with the students playing chords while I lead the residents in singing ‘Amazing Grace,’” Summers said. “It is a wonderful experience to see how even those with memory challenges that leave unable to converse effectively often come to life and sing along with a song that is ingrained deep inside them. Music touches lives, both young and old.”

Summers said she feels music is important to society and most people tie music with experiences and memories. With her elementary students, Summers said she tries to show how music can make a person’s life fuller, whether they achieve success at a higher level, develop a personal connection with it or become a patron of the arts as they get older.

“We see the value of it as humans,” she said. “It will make students better people, and better humans even if they don’t pursue it as a career.”

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