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Shelby strengthens strings programs through grant, performances, and early start

posted Jan 6, 2017, 12:46 PM by Greg Shull
Many students in Shelby, North Carolina now have the opportunity to learn and enjoy strings instruments, starting as early as kindergarten. Thanks to the work of Jennie Quinn, orchestra director at Shelby Middle and Shelby Intermediate, the foresight of Morgen Champney, music teacher at Graham Elementary, and the sustained program excellence and performance opportunities provided at the direction of John Champney, orchestra director at Shelby High, students can orchestrate a “string” of opportunities. Yes, all pun intended.

Morgen Champney began teaching this year at Graham Elementary where she has assembled a strings program for kindergarten through fourth-grade students. There, students begin on percussion instruments learning timing and note placement and transition to violins to begin their strings training.

“Since we know that many pathways in the brain are set by age nine, my goal is to catch these children early and help them develop and cultivate additional musical skills,” said Morgen Champney. “Learning violin, along with other aspects of basic music competence, will help these students in so many aspects of their learning career - focus, attention, diligence, patience, enjoyment and more.”

Students then transition to Shelby Intermediate School where they are afforded the opportunity to begin or extend their training, thanks to Mrs. Quinn’s ability to obtain new instruments to the to the “tune” of over $21,000 from The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation Grant received earlier this year.

“Learning music in school is a way to engage kids and give them something that makes them better students and better people,” said Felice Mancini, President & CEO of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. “They deserve every tool available to help them receive a quality education, and we want to ensure that music is in that toolbox."

“The Shelby Intermediate School Orchestra received 3basses, 5 violas, and 12 violins that are currently being used by students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to take part in the orchestra program,” said Jennifer Quinn. “These students have shown growth on their instruments and are showing a great amount of responsibility by taking good care of these brand new instrument.”

Once through sixth-grade, students go to Shelby Middle where they receive additional training from Mrs. Quinn.

“The orchestra program has greatly benefited from this generous gift because it helps to diversify our program and offers a new opportunity for all our students,” added Quinn.

“We are extremely proud of our strings department at Shelby Middle School,” said Dustin Bridges, principal at Shelby Middle. “Our orchestra of nearly 90 students, is playing the most complex music that our middle school orchestra has ever played--helping set the stage for the great things that await them at Shelby High.”

From there, students grow into various levels of strings programs at Shelby High, where they have performed at world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Strathmore in Washington D.C., and Davies Hall in San Francisco.

“It is so important that in the arts we focus on the big picture of what we do in the classroom each day,” said John Champney. “Providing musical opportunities that are going to help enrich our students from both a music perspective as well as a global perspective is crucial. The reality is most of our students will not go on to pursue music as a career. What we must focus on is how the musical experiences in their lives help to guide students in directions they may have never considered were possible had it not been for the music enrichment in their lives.”

This is just one of many exceptional educational experiences offered to students in Cleveland County Schools,” said Greg Shull, the district arts coordinator and director of communications. “The arts

Champney added, “Performing music helps to create vision and drive in young students to achieve in all areas.”
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