New Horizons & Children’s School of Rochester : Music for All AgesFebruary 13, 2020
Written by Mary Robey, Instrumental Music Teacher at Children’s School of Rochester
The partnership between Eastman’s New Horizons Program and the Children’s School of Rochester started over 15 years ago when New Horizons musicians began performing for full school assemblies at the Children’s School. This partnership continues to thrive and evolve today due to the many NH directors and performers that have formed lasting relationships with the staff and students at CSR. When CSR moved to its new ‘forever home’ in the Cobb’s Hill neighborhood it was now only blocks away from the church where the NH ensembles rehearse. With this closer proximity, it was only natural to institute ‘walking field trips’ that could foster even deeper connections between the students and musicians.
There is no doubt that students gain a plethora of musical knowledge through collaborating with the NH ensembles, but one of the most important lessons they learn is the understanding that they can carry their love of music with them no matter their age and wherever they go in the world. This speaks volumes to the CSR family, who call themselves ‘A World in a School’. Many of the students have traveled to Rochester from all around the globe. Over 20 different languages are spoken in the building, allowing each child to benefit from a rich tapestry of cultural experiences. And, music plays an integral part in helping the students’ transition from their native languages to English. It provides a platform between worlds where students are often confident performing musically well before they are fully comfortable speaking English in a public setting. At CSR, the old adage “Music is the Universal Language of Mankind” really rings true.
There are many ways that the New Horizons program has partnered with and supported the Children’s School of Rochester over the years. The New Horizons Big Band, under the direction of Priscilla Brown, performs for the entire CSR school family at the end of each school year, members of various NH ensembles volunteer their time to attend school music lessons and give instrument specific master classes, the ‘Play It Forward’ fund provides students with tuition free summer music study opportunities, and the NH Concert Bands, under the direction of Larry Neeck and Bruce Burritt, have combined with the school band in side by side rehearsal and performance enrichment experiences. This school year there are plans underway to join the bands again to prepare one of director Larry Neeck’s original compositions. What an amazing experience it will be for the students to learn a piece of music directly from the person who wrote it!
With such a successful partnership forged in the band arena, it is now the hope of the CSR music department, Mary Robey and Eric Williamson, to begin developing additional bonds with the New Horizons orchestra and choral programs as well. The sky is the limit!