Songs in the Key of Youth

Frost School partners with community initiatives on new music education program for children.

Coral Gables (June 28, 2011) — The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music is partnering with Virrick Park and the Barnyard Community Center in Village West on a new music education program that will expose young children to the world of music.

The Virrick Park Music Room is the result of a longtime effort by City of Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff, whose office will work with the Frost School on the program.

“The Virrick Park Music Room is the culmination of many months of effort to create a world-class music education program that will benefit the children and families of Coconut Grove and provide an opportunity for the University of Miami to give back to the community,” said Commissioner Sarnoff, City of Miami-District 2.

Frost School graduate students will oversee and run the program, with undergraduate mentors assisting. Children will learn traditional band instruments such as the saxophone, flute, clarinet, trombone, and trumpet, as well as percussion instruments. Each site will begin with between ten and 15 students, who will meet with their mentors twice a week.

“This new partnership in the Grove will provide the opportunity for students to explore the world of music. Through this program they will not only learn musical skills but life skills such as teamwork, creativity, expression, and discipline,” said Stephen Guerra Jr., director of outreach for the Frost School of Music. “We aim to provide a high level of musical instruction, while students learn that they can have fun performing, practicing, and creating.”

The program will run from September 2011 to May 2012. Students will perform concerts, and Frost School chamber ensembles will meet and interact with the children, exposing them to diverse genres of music.

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and current mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez and the staff of County Commission District 7 also helped create the program. Others who have been instrumental in the effort include Miami-Dade County Commission staff members Homer Whitaker from District 7 and Ron Nelson from District 2; the late Yvonne McDonald, who served as vice president of the Coconut Grove Homeowners and Tenants Association, and the late Will Johnson, who was the president of the association; and Coconut Grove resident Andy Bielow, who contributed instruments.

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