Department of music launches outreach program to Tri-state schools

Unique program of performances, instruction benefit school children | March 1, 2007

The department of music is launching a major initiative to strengthen its music education program and create an innovative music outreach program aimed at Tri-state schools. While music outreach programs are nothing new, Xavier takes it a step further by incorporating music instruction with performance by children in the outreach program and scholarly research.

The initiative, which is funded through a $500,000 grant from a local foundation that wishes to remain anonymous, will run for four academic years, 2007-2011.

Under the grant, the department is hiring a full-time faculty member with expertise in music education to teach courses, coordinate outreach efforts, and develop community-based opportunities for music education students.

The new faculty member is also coordinating and leading the program. Under the program, Xavier students in the instrumental and vocal ensembles are participating in local and regional tours that include instructional programs for children whose schools provide little access to musical education and performance.

Each year, one tour focuses on the instrumental ensembles and one focuses on the vocal ensembles. In addition to performing at traditional venues, such as universities, churches, schools and public settings, the ensembles spend two days working with school children in the Greater Cincinnati area as well as in rural areas, such as Appalachia. The outreach program includes instruction, co-performance with the children and a performance by the ensembles.

“This program will directly place future music educators into music programs in our area that need the most attention, ones that have been side stepped by our community,” explains department of music chair Kaleel Skeirik. “Children and parents that have little access to participate in and hear a jazz band or a chorus will receive instruction and have performance opportunities led by music professionals and selected music education students from Xavier. The win-win of service to others and on-site learning for future educators will develop a new generation of teacher who is more knowledgeable about the challenges we face maintaining our community culture.”

All students in Xavier ensembles, which total more than 200 per year, are participating in the outreach efforts.

“This will give Xavier’s music education students another opportunity to work with primary and secondary grade level children. We expect it will be a great benefit to the schools and our students,” says Thomas Merrill, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities.

Additionally, four promising students majoring in music education will be selected to receive scholarships in the amount of $6,000 and will serve as outreach leaders. These scholarships will be awarded to four incoming first-year students beginning this fall who will be eligible to maintain the funding through their four years at Xavier, as long as they remain in the major in good academic standing.

Part of the grant money will also be used to purchased and upgrade the music department’s inventory of instruments.