School Offers Keyboard, Guitar and StringsGerald Ford said, “Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them—a world of work, culture, activity and human involvement.”At St. John Lutheran School in Kendallville, the music program is preparing children for the future with a variety of opportunities, including strings, piano, and guitar. Ali Dencklau, the general music and keyboard instructor, agrees that music can have a huge impact on students in the long run. “Music enhances math and your brain--everything you do.”
She teaches general music to kindergarten and first grade, incorporating chants, finger plays, small and large movement activities, rhythm games and music from different cultures. Once children get into the 2nd grade they can take keyboard lessons with her, which continue until the eighth grade.In second and third grades, the emphasis changes to note reading. “I use many methods to teach students to read notes. We’re calling out names by finger numbers and note names and singing the pitches at the same time. By third grade they’re finally seeing the note and saying it.”Training the kids to read notes eventually leads them to playing a wide variety of music in the upper grades, including boogies, Broadway tunes, classical music and hymns.“They have a method book and they love ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ and ‘Camptown Races,’” Ms. Dencklau says. “I let them choose or introduce something new everyday. They’ve learned almost all the hymns.”Because of the emphasis on music education at St. John, students also have the opportunity to learn other instruments. In third grade, they can begin the string program, band starts in fourth grade and guitar begins in sixth grade.“There has always been a lot of interest from the students to learn how to play a string instrument,” Mr. Eiler, string instructor, says. “The number of students involved in the string program at St. John is steadily increasing, which is very exciting!”There were 26 students in the string program this year, ranging from beginning to advanced students. Students have several opportunities throughout the year to showcase their talents in front of an audience including at the school’s talent show.But performance is not the only goal with the program. “I want them to be able to remember their time in music as a fun time,” Ms. Dencklau says. “Music is in our lives to inspire.”Mr. Eiler adds, “Playing in the string ensemble, the child experiences the pleasure and satisfaction of joining with other children as they create music for their own, as well as other people’s enjoyment. In addition, the child finds another avenue by which to serve and glorify our Lord and Savior.”Through music, the children at St. John are learning how to develop their creativity while gaining discipline, accuracy, concentration, and coordination.Music is making a difference in these students’ lives, one song at a time.