Carrsville to debut integrated arts curriculum

Published 12:07 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

In an effort to integrate the arts throughout Carrsville Elementary School’s curriculum, Principal Clint Walters has announced that beginning next school year, all kindergarten through fifth grade students enrolled at the school will receive 25 minutes of violin instruction every day.

Walters made the announcement during a school board work session on Feb. 14 concerning the division’s budget for the 2018-2019 school year, explaining that the initiative would be an arts-themed form of project-based learning. In addition to teaching students to play the violin, the initiative, he said, could also help improve students’ reading comprehension.

“The skills in reading music and reading text are very similar, so if we can give them the opportunity to practice that in a different way, we will really see some improvements in our students,” Walters said.

He added that the school had already budgeted for the hiring of one full-time music teacher, the violins and storage units for the instruments. This new music teacher, he said, would not only be working with students to teach them the violin, but would also be teaching general music appreciation and working with teachers to discover new ways in which music can be integrated into their lessons. Carrsville’s current combination art and music teacher would return the focus of that class to visual arts.

Violin instruction will be given to students in all grade levels, to include kindergarten, Walters confirmed, adding that even if a student is not ready to handle a physical instrument, there are lessons that could be taught, even at the preschool level, to prepare a student to play an instrument down the road.

Division Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton is very much onboard with the creation of the program.

“It’s not just about a violin,” he said. “It’s about the integration of the arts, better instruction and deeper learning.”

When asked why he had picked the violin as the focus instrument for Carrsville’s new integrated arts program, Walters said that he and other faculty members felt that it might be easier for students to associate proper finger placement to producing the desired sound on a violin.

On other instruments, such as a trumpet, he said, other factors besides finger placement can affect the sound that is produced.

Finding adequate space for violin lessons, Walters said, was potentially an issue, but not an insurmountable one. The school’s VPI classroom and media center are two options he is exploring.

According to Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of community and media relations, plans to implement this new curriculum began last spring when Walters and division administrators began looking at how they could make Carrsville a unique experience.

“Arts seemed like a natural fit, they’ve always had strong arts program at Carrsville,” Briggs said.

The school’s program will be modeled after several local and national schools already pursuing an integrated arts approach, Walters said, such as the Wallace School in Indiana, which he and other Carrsville faculty recently toured.

“We’re almost like a magnet school experience, very specialized,” Briggs added. These, according to Magnet Schools of America, are “choice” public schools open to all students regardless of zip code, each of which typically focuses on individually themed curricula such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fine and performing arts or world languages and immersion.