By Sara Watanabe, Mika Kakihara | Project Coordinator, Translator
In addition to the operation of orchestra and chorus in Soma over weekends, El Sistema Japan has always been placing importance on supporting curricular activities in school as we work in partnership with the local Board of Education.
Shown in the photos below are fifth graders attending a music appreciation workshop at Soma Iitoyo Elementary School on 21 November. With kind support from a local Japanese harp school, Ms. Monma and her students all gathered together.
The students first listened to Koto, traditional Japanese harps and then tried them out. Ms. Monma played the piece Haru no Umi (Spring Sea) with Mr. Ueda, previously a member of the Board of Education, managing activities with us and now a farmer and flautist. After the performance, the children tried out the Japanese harps. There was one harp for every four children and they orderly took turns to play Sakura Sakura. Joined by recorders, all sounded quite well for their first trial.
Nowadays it is rare to hear traditional Japanese instruments even in Japan. The school teachers and the board members appreciated this precious opportunity for the children to listen to and try such instruments.
In small cities like Soma, schools with smaller numbers of children are often too tight in resources to hire music teachers with specialist training. El Sistema Japan assists those schools to provide higher quality music appreciation classes, specialist training on classroom musical instruments like the recorder and the melodica, support for marching bands, and so forth. This is part of the government funded disaster relief program, which sends specialists including, but not limited to, emergency school counselors to the affected region. Most of the specialists we work with are also from the region.
Promoting children’s access to art and culture is one of our priorities at El Sistema Japan. It is important that children without easy access to art and culture still have opportunities to experience and learn music of good standard. We are thankful for your support.
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