Nottoway music students to get strings lessons

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A pilot program for students to learn to play string instruments will begin at Nottoway Elementary School in January.

The Southampton County School Board voted unanimously Monday to launch the program under the tutelage of Stafford Claud, who serves the school division as the band director at Southampton High School.

“We’re looking to go to the next level in a number of areas,” Southampton County Schools Superintendent Charles Turner said Monday. “For years, the board has been talking about a strings program. We are finally going to move in that direction.”

Claud told the board that he was excited about the pilot program and explained some of its parameters.

“We’re looking at the program being no more than six to seven students to start with,” Claud said. “We want to make sure the program gets off on a good, solid base.”

The director said the January launch “gives us a chance to get all of the students together and talk to them, to get the instruments in a position where they will be able to obtain them, and not change any of the programs that we have (currently in place).”

According to the school division, strings classes would be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Also, the program would use violins at first, and Claud and Debra Hicks, the school’s principal, would select students for the strings classes based on the results of a music aptitude test.

Claud said Hicks “has already gotten to the point where she has selected some students, and was talking to parents to see if they would be interested in looking at the program itself.”

The program would start with fourth-grade students at Nottoway and would grow slowly, eventually extending to Southampton Middle School and Southampton High School.

“This is the beginning point,” Turner said. “We’re going to have some more extensive dialogue and discussion as we begin to move forward with the program.”

The strings program will be funded through the school division’s operating budget. The monthly rental fee for the violins will be $31.50 for the first three months then $29.20 per month for the next seven months. The violins would cost $400 each otherwise.

Claud said that he would serve as interim instructor to get the program started.

He also suggested that the board offer a stipend for one guest instructor to come in and assist with the program every quarter of the school year. Claud said he had been in contact with music instructors at Norfolk State, Virginia State and Old Dominion universities.