Musicians aim to inspire district fifth-graders to join school bands

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When members of the Dallas Wind Symphony played songs from the movie “Frozen” for Dallas ISD fifth-graders last year, many of the students began singing along. It was that spontaneous reaction that prompted the band to encourage singing along.

This year, the Dallas Winds returned to play concerts in late January for 12,000 district fifth-graders, hoping to inspire them to choose an instrument and join their school bands when they reach the sixth grade.

“Can we play music that resonates, that is part of their lives?” asked Dallas winds founder Kim Campbell. Many of the songs were instantly recognizable, from the main title from “Star Wars” to the theme music from the game Angry Birds. Other songs were ones encountered as students competed in Music Memory.

But the concerts aren’t all about music, Campbell said. Band students are much less likely to drop out of school, and twice as likely to attend college. The social support system that playing with other musicians provides adds to the positive experience.

“We want to encourage them to join their band because we believe band students are more likely to complete their education on time, get better grades,” Campbell said. “And learn valuable lessons about teamwork and self-discipline that will make them better citizens when they graduate.”

Elaine Thomas, director of Dallas ISD’s Visual & Performing Arts-Elementary Music and Art, agrees.

“Research shows over and over students who are involved in an extra-curricular activity, such as band, choir, orchestra, theatre, or dance will attend school on a regular basis and pass their classes, all in order to participate in their chosen activity,” Thomas said.  The timing is perfect, as students will fill out their choices for classes and activities in middle school in a few weeks.

“Something magical happens when a group of students come together to create a performance,” Thomas said. “Friendships are formed, which often last a lifetime and that important sense of belonging to a group comes into existence.”

The “Strike Up the Band” concerts were conducted by Dr. Nicholas Williams, assistant director of Wind Studies at UNT. Carlos Joglar and Kennedy Woodard, both juniors at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, narrated the program. The concerts took place at the Music Hall at Fair Park .

The Dallas Winds also conduct summer band camps for Dallas ISD students. Find information on the camp here.

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