(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— St. Joseph School District students got a taste of what it would be like to play in an orchestra or band.
Missouri Western State University and the St. Joseph Symphony teamed up with the SJSD to encourage 5th-grade students in the district to pick music as an elective when they are eligible next year.
Missouri Western students first demonstrated their respective instruments to an awestruck crowd of 5th graders in the Potter Hall Auditorium. Most of the college students were volunteers for the event, just as members from the St. Joseph Symphony.
“It’s my way of giving back,” Kelsei Peparis, a recent Missouri Western alumni and violinist, said “When I was growing up in St. Joseph, I had to travel to a different school after school just to take music lessons, it’s amazing that now we have a program like this and that at every high school there are dedicated music teachers for band and orchestra programs.”
After instrumental demonstrations, 5th graders were broken up into groups where they could to try instruments in the brass, wind, strings, and woodwind family. For many students, it was their first time playing an instrument.
“I’m excited to get a chance to try the instruments because I have never gotten a chance to touch one before, it’s fun, and it’s cool,” said Daniel, a Lindbergh Elementary 5th grader who discovered he enjoyed the trombone.
Jeff Siasoco teaches the band at Benton High School and Spring Garden Elementary. He says positive first interactions with musical instruments is vital to a student truly taking an interest and ultimately adding a positive building block to their educational development.
“Today is such a great day it’s just the beginning for these students, music helps you with so many other subjects because you have to read, you have to do the math, there is science involved with how the instruments work,” said Siasoco.
Eleven of Siasoco’s recent music students graduated with a music scholarship for college.
“When I start working with kids this age, it’is the highlight of my job because I get to watch them progress throughout high school and they just light up! It’s one of the greatest gifts to watch them,” said Siasoco.
More than 800 students will attend the “Instrumental Infusion” event. It will continue with more sessions of students on Thursday.