MEREDITH — Students at Lakeland School feel fortunate to study music under the expert guidance of John Whitney. Mr. Whitney, who is a graduate of Boston University and holds a Master's Degree in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, has designed a program of instrument instruction that he feels is unusual. Few schools in New Hampshire, particularly north of Concord, have instruction in orchestral string instruments such as violin, viola and cello, and Lakeland School begins instruction at a very early age.
Lakeland students begin their instrumental music education in the first grade with instruction in music theory and musical concepts, and lessons on the recorder. Following this introduction, students transition to instruction on a stringed instrument. "A student as young as first grade can be successful on a stringed instrument because these instruments are available in various sizes and can be fitted to smaller bodies and smaller hands" said Mr. Whitney. "Currently all Lakeland students in the second, third and fourth grades are successful participants in our string ensemble."
At the fifth grade level, Lakeland students may choose to continue in the string program or move to a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument and participate in the band program. "At this age, students are physically, much better suited to these larger instruments and have had the advantage of early exposure to and instruction in music theory. Our experience has shown us that these concepts transfer easily to a new instrument and that these students quickly become productive members of our band program."
Educational research indicates that academic achievement, as measured by scholastic testing is enhanced by participation in a music program. Lakeland School students are currently in the third year of John Whitney's redesigned program. Participation among first through eighth graders has climbed to over 80%. "Students are really enjoying their instruments these days and their progress shows this, The addition of stringed instruments at the early stages of instruction has made all the difference."
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