Gifted and Talented
Amanda Limon in courtyard
Amanda Limon in courtyard
Instructors: Mrs. Amanda Limón & Ms. Jenna Reagan
Drachman Montessori is the only TUSD school that offers Kindergarten through 6th grade violin instruction to all students. Our violin program supports our school’s basic philosophy that all children can learn to play the violin. The program supports classroom instruction by building listening skills, self-confidence, primary motor skills, language development and memory. Led by our K-3 Violin Program Instructor, Amanda Limón, and our Orchestra Director, Jenna Reagan, all students at Drachman have the opportunity to learn to play violin and read music. Our K-3 program has more than 100 violins, ranging in size from 1/10th to 1/2. Orchestra students can choose from approximately 30 1/2 to 4/4, or full-size, violins to use while in class.
The Drachman Program
Drachman’s Kindergarten through 3rd-grade violin program is taught by Music Specialist Amanda Limón, a talented violinist who played with the local group, Mariachi Reyes de Tucson, for 15 years. Mrs. Limón began playing violin in 4th grade and began playing Mariachi in 6th grade. In addition to Mariachi music, she has played with a tropical / high energy cumbia group as a vocalist and percussionist, and a charanga group (salsa with violin). All of Drachman’s students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade receive violin lessons from Mrs. Limón once a week. Kindergarten students start the school year on a cardboard “box” violin. They learn how to stand while playing and in rest position, the number of strings on a violin (4) and graduate to a real 1/10th or 1/8th size violin at the end of the first semester. A special graduation ceremony is held so parents can videotape and take pictures of the momentous event.All students then use real violins for the rest of their education at Drachman. A concert for 1st-3rd grades is held before the Winter Break, and again in the Spring, near the end of the school year.
Drachman’s Orchestra Students who wish to continue learning violin after 3rd grade can try out for Drachman’s Orchestra. Our Orchestra Director, Ms. Jenna Reagan, is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona, where she led group and private violin lessons as a part of the UA’s String Project. She began playing violin in the 4th grade and has continued playing and teaching violin for 17 years. Ms. Reagan has a deep appreciation for music and wishes to inspire her students to spark emotion in the music they play. She also plays piano, cello, and viola to have a deeper understanding of a string orchestra. She is currently writing a beginning violin instruction book. Drachman’s Orchestra is open to all 4th-6th grade students and is divided into three levels, based on playing ability: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. Students who do not want to audition, but do want to continue learning to play violin and reading music, will be placed in Beginning Orchestra. During auditions for Intermediate and Advanced Orchestra, students are asked to read sheet music that does not have the note names or finger numbers. Intermediate Orchestra students are expected to read 1/8th notes and Advanced Orchestra students should be able to read 1/16th notes. Auditions are held once a year, or by appointment with the Orchestra Director. Orchestra classes are held twice a week, for 30 minutes each, during which students expand their note-reading abilities and learn new repertoire.
Benefits of Early, Continuing Music Education
The benefits of an early music education cannot be understated. One study published by the journal Brain in 2006 found that just one year of music education, between the ages of 4 and 6, can improve a child’s memory and learning ability by encouraging different patterns of brain development. It helps develop the left side of the brain, which is involved with processing language and spatial reasoning. It is unclear how long the benefits of a musical education persist, but a 2007 study published in the Journal for Research in Music Education linked quality, ongoing music education to better scores on standardized tests well into high school. A more recent study published in 2012 in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that just five years of music education in childhood had a lasting impact on adults’ brains.