PSA cadets learn basics of music, prep for future

At the end of last year, students of the Public Service Academy were given the opportunity to take a music class on campus. This class is only taken by those who expressed interest in it by signing up beforehand take part in it. Joseph Updegraff teaches this music class during fifth period.

For students such as sixth grader Jennavaza Walden, this class refreshes skills they had learned in the past and shows potential for more. She had learned to play the violin but hopes this new class will lead her in the direction of learning to play the flute, just as her mother did.

However, the hands-on experience may come a bit later for these students as there are not instruments available to them from either the elementary department or Stagg.

As of now, the superintendent has stepped in and PSA is working on a solution to ensure that the needs of these students will be met. “Right now we’re working on basic music skills and singing,” Updegraff said. For the lower level kids, “singing is exactly what they need to be doing,” but Updegraff is disappointed that the higher level students are not given the opportunity to progress.

Despite her previous experience, this class has offered a very different curriculum. At her previous few schools, she was not taught notes at all, but now she is able to get into the dynamics of what she is playing. “They would just hand us the lines of music, but he’s actually teaching us what type of notes we are playing,” Walden said. She hopes this class will present an opportunity to use the violin her grandparents bought her for her birthday.

Though some students have been involved in the music department of their previous schools, students like eighth grader Sir David Boatwright came to PSA as a way to encourage good behavior, and now takes this class as a way to expand his horizons. “I like that I’m being taught to play different instruments, and the environment is different than other schools.”

While learning how to properly identify his do-re-mi’s, use tonal analysis and occasionally sing, the class has been a fun new experience for Boatwright. A key difference for him is the integration of all the grades at PSA. “We’re learning, just like other classes, but this time we’re all learning together regardless of grade.”

Seventh grader Careena Smith enjoys the curriculum in the class but recognizes the struggles of being a younger class. “We talk a lot,” Smith said. She finds this is mostly due to the excitement of not only being with friends she may not see normally at school because of the grade difference, but also because this is a class where one of the things they do most is sing. For excited students, singing leads to laughter, and laughter leads to talking.