Student musicians on the rise |

Student musicians on the rise

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

Students at McPolin Elementary School are learning to read music, hold a string instrument and play songs in McPolin Strings, a Park City School District pilot program that started in November. The program seeks to connect elementary school students interested in learning a string instrument with Park City High School and Treasure Mountain Junior High musicians, according to Park City High School Orchestra Director Stephen Fairbanks. He said the school district was able to offer the program because the Park City Education Foundation supplied the instruments.

"One of the things that I feel strongly about is that music enriches students’ lives and it should be available to all the students in the school district," Fairbanks said. "In creating a program in that way, we wanted to have a representative demographic. We have students that are wealthy and some that are not and some that are English or Spanish speakers."

Fairbanks said the program will give students the opportunity to develop friendships that will strengthen and support one another at school. He said he got the idea from a similar program offered in Los Angeles.

"Part of my motivation comes from what some people are doing in L.A., which is this idea of using music to create a social chain," he said. "The little kids look up to these bigger kids. It looks like its going to be a great program."

Fairbanks said the goal for the program is to empower students through music and allow them to experience success together, which he said will hopefully carry over into all areas of their lives. The mentors are the life blood of the program, according to Fairbanks, who said the older students become role models to the younger students.

Treasure Mountain Junior High School 8th-grader Paesly Oswald, said she’s been playing the violin for several years. A self-taught musician, Oswald wished this program was available when she was learning to play.

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"I remember when I first started playing violin I wish I would have had help. I learned that it’s a lot harder than it looks to teach someone to play, but it’s nice when their faces light up when they do something right," she said.

TMJHS 8th-grader Emma Louden plays the viola and has been working with the same group students since the program started.

"I’m learning how challenging it is to teach them to learn music, but how rewarding it is to see how much they love it," she said.

TMJHS 8th-grader Caitlin Silianoff said she’s been playing the cello for three years and has been teaching the younger students the proper posture when playing.

"You have to be really straight and you want to hold the cello in between your knees and have one hand holding the strings by your neck," Silianoff said. "Some students caught on pretty quickly and others it’s taken longer. It’s fun to get to know the kids and watch them grow and become musicians."