For the last 15 years, the Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills has been coming to General Beadle Elementary School to help kids learn different musical instruments. Michael Hill, Executive Director, explains, “I grew up here in Rapid City. We live our winters in Florida. We teach and play in the orchestras and the colleges in Florida, and we just love coming back to the Black Hills. This is my home area. This is our gift back to the community.”
At General Beadle through the Discovery Program, Hill has an opportunity to work with the kids in a program called Discovery of Strings and Harp. Hill says, “A few years ago, we were fortunate to receive a grant to purchase. We purchased nine violins, four violas, a cello, and we got five harps. So we started working with the kids and the importance of involving them in music.”
As the kids play, they are learning to focus on an instrument. One of skills they learn is to listen to each other. Hill continue, “These kids have got great ears and and they’re learning to listen and pay attention. And this will develop their mind development, their brain development, and really makes their academics excel. And this is what this is about. Involving the arts at this earlier age helps bring development. They’re going to learn faster. They’re going to do better. They’re going to stay in school longer. And what’s really fun is after this, in July, the rest of our musicians show up from across the country, from Philadelphia, from Minneapolis, Saint Paul, from California. They all come in and they’re going to work with the kids. So not only do these kids get we provide the instruments, we provide the instruction, and then they get to meet and play with people who are Grammy Award winning musicians, many of them who are top of their fields. So it’s really kind of a neat situation.”
Dylan talks about his favorite instrument the harp. “I’ve been playing harp since I was in second grade, so I’ve learned like a whole bunch of instruments and like how to play them because of one instrument.”
Urijiah explains what kind of things the program has taught. “I’ve learned that you always when you put your instrument away, if you have a string instrument with the bow, you always have to loosen the bow before you put it away because and if you touch the bow hairs, it’ll turn brown and it’ll get messed up.”
And for Kyrain the best part of the program is: “That when you, when you pluck or do the bow when you do that and you when you put it away. I like I like those things, you know, so when I practice music.”
In addition to teaching the students, Hill will also perform while he is in the Black Hills.
Hill explains, “We’ve got three main concerts going on in the month of July. July 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd at the Journey Museum. And these are our classical programs. And the kids actually get to come to those too. They get to see the rehearsals, they get to meet our musicians. And it’s a lot of fun. The Journey Museum is a perfect setting: easy parking, easy walk in, and we’ve got space seating for those who wish it. And the concerts are really an exciting event. It’s just really that this is the funnest part of our season is coming here, being in the Black Hills, working with these kids.
Hill also says that the program gives the kids an up. They are able to learn proper techniques, how to read music, about different instruments. “It gets them more excited and involved and it makes it easier for them when they transition into the school programs.”
For more information, visit their website here.