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Portland Symphony tuning music curriculum for Reiche students

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Portland Symphony tuning music curriculum for Reiche students

PORTLAND — West End kindergarten students may become more tuneful next year, thanks to a budding partnership between Reiche Community School and the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

The partnership, which was announced Tuesday, Dec. 3, during a regular meeting of the School Board, is meant to develop an expanded kindergarten curriculum that incorporates music into students' everyday lives.

Lisa Dixon, executive director of the PSO, said work will begin in earnest this spring, with the goal of introducing a finished curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year.

"This year is primarily focused on getting to know each other and really shaping what the program will look like for the future," Dixon said. "I imagine the planning team will develop some ideas of what might work well and use the springtime to experiment and try things out."

If it is successful, it could expand to other schools, she said.

"We haven't prescribed the growth of the program because we want it to be organic and based on what's working," Dixon said. "We'll be starting small and building on success."

The expense of the pilot program, which receives support from Unum, will be paid by the PSO, but Dixon said it's too soon to say how much the program will cost.

The initial conversations that led to the partnership began a year ago, she said. The partnership, Dixon said, will help the PSO further its mission to "serve our community by enriching lives through music."

Alyson Ciechomski, Reiche’s music teacher, told the School Board that there has already been a lot of connectivity between the orchestra and the schools, but the pilot program takes it to a new level.

"We're thrilled to make this greater, extended connection," Ciechomski said.

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk said kindergarten students at Reiche will have "the incredible opportunity to interact with some of the area’s finest musicians."

“This pilot program will support students’ success in mathematics, literacy and many other academic areas,” he said.

Elementary schools throughout the Portland Public Schools were invited to apply for the pilot program. The PSO selected Reiche because of its "integrated learning methods, flexible approach to curriculum design and diverse student body,” Dixon said.

“We believe that these characteristics will contribute to a highly successful integrated curriculum. We can’t wait to see the musicians in the classrooms, working with the kids,” she said.

PSO is also involved in the school district in several ways. Each year, the PSO provides the opportunity for every student to attend one concert. The PSO also brings orchestral music to young students through KinderKonzerts, Youth Concerts, Discovery Concerts, and other programs.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.