UM partners to create new music program in the Grove

By Elizabeth Amore….
The University of Miami Frost School of Music is partnering to create a new music education program in Miami at Virrick Park and the Barnyard Community Center in Village West. The project is the result of a longtime effort by 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 bring to bring 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,” Commissioner Sarnoff said.

Graduate students from the UM Frost School of Music will oversee and run the program, with undergraduate mentors assisting. Children in the music program will have the opportunity of learning traditional band instruments such as saxophone, flute, clarinet, trombone, trumpet or percussion instruments. Each site will begin with between 10 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,” said Stephen Guerra Jr., director of Outreach for the UM Frost School of Music. “Through this program they will not only learn musical skills but life skills as well — such as teamwork, creativity, expression, and discipline. 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 to May 2012. Students will perform concerts throughout that time. They also will be visited by UM Frost School Chamber ensembles that will expose students to diverse genres of music.

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez (now mayor) and the staff of County Commission District 7 also participated in putting this program together. Others who have been an integral part of this effort include: Miami-Dade County Commission staff members Homer Whitaker from District 7 and Ron Nelson from District 2; the late Yvonne McDonald, who once was vice president of the Coconut Grove Homeowners and Tenants Association (HOATA) and the late Will Johnson, who was president of the association, and Coconut Grove resident Andy Bielow who contributed instruments.

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