We believe that the arts play a crucial role in building strong minds. In addition to weekly music and art classes, Vista Ridge Academy offers the opportunity for students to participate in choir and our Strings of the Rockies program (funded in part by Avista Adventist Hospital). The Strings of the Rockies program at Vista Ridge Academy helps students learn that effort partnered with perseverance leads to success. Through quality training in technique and reading music, our students are able to strengthen parts of their brain that would not otherwise be developed.
In Preschool our main goal is for kids to develop a love a music. We help teach them to have a trained hear, so they can hear low and high pitches. By listening to a lot of different music, we help them to have a steady beat. Students will clap, march and stomp to the beat. We are preparing students to play an instrument, violin specifically. Students do finger plays, which prepares them to have independent fingers for playing the violin.
This year we’ve added wooden violins for Kindergartners. They will start to learn the technique on the wooden box violin. When they are ready they will get to have a real violin.
First through fourth grade students have learning stations, which include, learning to read music, ear training, and listening stations. In the Suzuki method it is important to listen. Kids are encouraged to listen to violin music 45 minutes a day. In class students do a variety of things during their listening time, such as, draw a picture of what they are hearing and what they are envisioning, or using different manipulatives to create something about what the piece is reminding them of. Through this, students will be able to hear a piece and be able play it with the skills that they gathered. Students will also have a lot of technique practice. The violin is a very sensitive instrument. How your thumb is on the bow can completely change the tone of the violin.
Our Strings of the Rockies Program Director, Holly Curtis, says a big part of the Strings of the Rockies Program is character development.
“Playing an instrument is not always easy. Violin is one of those an instruments that can be difficult. Through learning to persevere and stick with it, I feel in my own life it developed so many different character qualities in me that I wouldn’t have developed otherwise. Learning to play violin connects different pathways in the brain, and as students are growing as a person they get to have that experience with music to help develop their character as well,” says Curtis.
In past years, the violin students have performed for various church and local community events including Avista Adventist Hospital, Chapel Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church and Northglenn Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church. They have excellently performed for the annual Christmas and Spring concert programs with many favorable comments from parents, family, and friends.
For this year’s Christmas program, students’ violin performances will be pre-recorded and shared at the school’s Zoom Christmas program on December 17.
Vista Ridge Academy is a private Christian elementary school north of Denver, operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It offers wholistic Christ-centered and values-driven education to children from preschool through to the eighth grade.
[Photos by Greg Floyd]
Marsha Bartulec is the Vice Principal of Administration at Vista Ridge Academy.
Holly Curtis is the Director of the Strings of the Rockies Program