(Nov. 23, 2010)--UTSA Department of Music faculty and students are teaming up to bring the joy of music to inner-city elementary school students through the Downtown Strings Project.
Now in its second semester, the project is providing low-cost musical instruction in violin, viola, cello and guitar to 72 students in the Edgewood Independent School District and neighboring school districts.
The Downtown Strings Project is funded primarily through the Charlotte Louise Dashiell and Lota M. Spell Endowment. In 2008, a $1.2 million estate gift was made by their families in their honor to establish and maintain music education programs for children and train music teachers devoted to teaching.
Support also has come from contributions and equipment donations by San Antonio Ford and Lincoln-Mercury car dealerships and local music stores.
"This is also a great opportunity for UTSA music students who are serving as instructors all over San Antonio to learn how to teach in socioeconomic conditions with school children who may have different needs," said Eugene Dowdy, UTSA associate professor of music and Downtown Strings Project director.
Students receive hourly after-school instruction at beginning and intermediate levels twice weekly on the ground floor of the Durango Building at the UTSA Downtown Campus.
Dowdy hopes that once these students learn how to play an instrument in elementary school, they will continue to be involved in music and perform in secondary schools or with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio.
"Research shows that there is a clear correlation between music study in the early years and cognitive abilities," said Dowdy. "Children's minds open up, and they work as a team to reach a goal and become well-rounded individuals. We see that kids in All-State Bands and All-State Choirs have SAT scores significantly higher then their classmates."
One of the students in the project is 11-year-old Robin Villareal, a cello player and fifth grader at Price Elementary School in the South San Antonio ISD.
"I think it's interesting because it shows the beauty in music when I hear the cello," said Villareal. "When I hear the cellos it sounds like they are singing and I am hearing their voices."
Raymond Tijerina, a 35-year-old father of a third grader, appreciates the opportunity his daughter Zoe is being given to learn how to play the violin.
"Being from the South Side, I think it's great because usually our kids don't get these kinds of opportunities," said Tijerina. "If kids learn something when they are young, you never know where it can lead."
UTSA music faculty members Eugene Dowdy and Matthew Dunne teach and coordinate the string and guitar classes. UTSA students Gabriela Torres, Tom Vela, Joshua Kroft, Gabriel Balderrama, Martin Sanchez and Jake Ramirez serve as assistant administrators and instructors.
>> When fall semester classes are over, the students will perform in the Downtown String Project Winter Concert at 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2 in the Buena Vista Theater at the UTSA Downtown Campus.
Ron Ellis conducts the student instrumental ensemble in a free concert that is open to the public.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (Arts 2.03.02), Main Campus
The UTSA Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is hosting a day full of outreach events and activities by the U.S. Navy as part of a larger Navy presence in San Antonio called Navy Week with various events in the community through Feb. 25.
Student Union Paseo and Convocation Center entrance, Main Campus
Join this interactive play that is a courtroom drama and the audience is the jury. Discussion and will follow.
Student Union, Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Langston Clark, UTSA assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition will discuss exploring the historical context for the role of black athletes in contemporary social movements.
John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.
Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.
Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
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