EPS music program going strong, offers new summer music day camp for students

Published 2:14 pm Sunday, June 13, 2010

Edwardsburg Argus

A new music program is heating up at Edwardsburg Public Schools and opening the door for many students to make their voices heard this summer.
The district’s music program has launched a summer music day camp for grades 5 through 8 to run in the morning from Aug. 9-20.
Students will perform a concert for the community on the evening of Friday, Aug. 20.
“This will be a nice outlet for (students) if they haven’t been able to sign up for choir,” said Michelle Gruver, general music teacher at Edwardsburg Public Schools.
The day camp is geared toward those students who are coming out of the elementary school program and may not have the same opportunity to take part in music when it comes to new programs at the fifth through eighth grade level.
“There are some kids who enjoy doing programs at the elementary level but can’t anymore because of their not choosing choir,” Gruver said. “Maybe they wanted to check out the art program or a foreign language.”
The day camp offers those students a chance to still take part in music.
Gruver said Edwardsburg students in kindergarten through fifth grade all participate in the music program.
The program includes concerts that take place in the evenings and are not required for students – but Gruver said attendance for those concerts are at 90 percent, a testament to those students’ interest in the program.
The number of students who join choir or band as they move through middle school and high school also seems to increase, Gruver said.
“I think it’s because we have a strong program here,” she said.
Where often the typical perception is that arts and music take a back seat to sports programs, Gruver said Edwardsburg Public Schools Superintendent Sherman Ostrander incorporated the music program into his five year plan for the district.
“Administrative support is critical,” she said.
The goal in getting students more involved with music education, Gruver said, is “if they can at least learn to appreciate music that they don’t hear at home, they can become more educated listeners of music … These kids are actually taking what they’re learning in class and seeing how it fits outside.”
Gruver said she recently used the Walt Disney animated film “The Princess and the Frog” to teach third-graders about jazz, gospel and cajun music – something many of them said they enjoyed.
“The kids are really starting to pick up on those things and it just carries over,” she said.
A successful middle and high school band and choir also helps.
“Of course if a program is successful, then more kids are going to be drawn to it,” Gruver said. “We just have a really solid program and in these times with these economics there are so many districts that are cutting back. In Edwardsburg there’s a commitment to it and so instead of taking things away, the support is still there.”
Music, she said, helps students at all levels, including those who may be emotionally impaired or in need of special education, express themselves, Gruver said.
With music, “nobody sits on the bench,” she said. “You don’t necessarily have to try out. You’re part of the team and you’re always performing.”
The cost for the came is $60 – a steep savings, Gruver points out, in comparison to other area camps that can run costs as high as $300. The funds go toward a T-shirt for the students, salary for staff and a snack. Any funds not used will go directly into the music program.
Gruver said an estimated 30 students have been registered and she’s hoping for more.
Those interested in more information about the camp can contact Edwardsburg Intermediate School at 663-1063.