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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA group creates kids’ music school

Corey Ferrugia, a UA alumnus, created MyTown Music School, which is a fee-based specialty summer music camp that kids attend during the day for four weeks.

The first session starts May 31 and the second begins July 5. Students and their parents can register online. In an incentive to get people to sign up, those who enroll early receive a discount.

The program will have 12 teachers and between 90 to 120 students enrolled.

Students in Free Enterprise worked with Ferrugia to form the program. Students in Free Enterprise is a non-profit, international organization that creates different community outreach projects to spawn economic opportunity.

Kristal Curnett, co-president of Students In Free Enterprise and MyTown project manager, said Ferrugia approached her about his idea to start a summer music program, hoping she would be able to help.

“”After listening to his thoughts and his vision I then thought of SIFE and wanted to partner the two together to be able to help him see his vision through,”” Curnett said.

The program focuses primarily on kids in the east side of Tucson, but anybody in the Tucson area, ages 8 to 18, may enroll.

“”They wanted to make sure they could offer a low student-to-teacher ratio, no more than 20 students per teacher,”” Curnett said.

Maddie Reynolds, a retail and consumer sciences senior and member of Students in Free Enterprise, said MyTown is special because the curriculum is not the traditional model used in schools and gives kids more freedom to choose their instrument and what type of music they are passionate about learning.

“”I would love to have had something like this growing up to be able to expand my knowledge as a musician,”” said Reynolds. “”It’s a really great opportunity to solve music being cut and expose them to something that they would never be exposed to in the first place.””

The teaching style will integrate traditional and modern approaches to music. The kids will learn the fundamentals they need with more modern techniques so students learn things they actually want to know.

“”We are not creating a curriculum and throwing it onto students,”” Curnett said.

Once they choose their instrument, they can pick to learn about jazz, rock or pop music.

“”Institutions unfortunately don’t get straight to the point and don’t make (learning music) customized, it’s systemized,”” Ferrugia said. “”With something like this you can choose your ensemble. If you choose a jazz ensemble, everything will be focused on that.””

The camp’s teachers are professionals in the music field. Some currently teach in schools or private lessons, while others have lost their jobs due to budget cuts.

“”Word of mouth has been the best way to get teachers, and because the arts are being kind of ripped out of the community there are teachers … who just want to be part of this because they see the benefit and the value of what our school is going to be doing,”” Curnett said.

Ferrugia was a K-5 music teacher at a Tucson elementary school and the idea came to him when his teaching position was cut and he lost his job.

“”Unfortunately due to budget cuts across the state his position was then cut as well … that was kind of what sparked the whole idea of not just laying down and accepting that,”” Curnett said.

Ferrugia has been working on the program for about a year and a half and Students in Free Enterprise has been involved since December 2009.

“”It took him a while to kind of focus in on one summer music program and to create a job for the music teachers that have extreme talent, but they can’t really put that talent into anything because there are no jobs teaching music,”” Reynolds said.

Due to budget cuts, music programs in public schools have been significantly cut and those schools that still have programs may only offer students 30 to 50 minutes per week of music education. After elementary school, music is not necessarily integrated into the curriculum and becomes more of an extracurricular activity. According to Curnett, private and charter schools have been the most receptive to the summer music program idea because many of them do not have any music education., features an donation option which shows the donor exactly where their money will go. They may choose to sponsor a child for an entire summer or give a dollar amount that can go toward an instrument for a student.

“”We want people to know that they’re not just donating blindly, we’re giving them an idea of what exactly their money will be able to go towards,”” Curnett said.

She said there are already plans to turn the summer program into a weekend program when school starts again in the fall.

“”We don’t want to make the kids wait an entire other year … it’s hard for them to develop as musicians, we want to keep the vibe going year round,”” Curnett said.

Ferrugia said his goal is to eventually have a full community school with classes for adults and children.

“”We’re creating a solution out of nothing with no money from the government, we’re doing something pretty fantastic and that’s awesome,”” he said.

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