Emma Van Allen (’14 B.M.E) participated in the fall 2018 Partners in Music program – this time as a State College Area School District fifth-grade elementary orchestra teacher. Her first involvement with the program was as a senior music education major. “It has been wonderful to see Partners in Music from both perspectives: as a student and as a teacher,” said Emma. As a teacher, she has seen how this opportunity benefits her fifth-grade students as they are exposed to new repertoire, experience different conducting styles, build upon their own individual technique, and work as a team to perform as a balanced ensemble. “A sense of community and camaraderie emerges,” she said, “as fifth graders meet and perform with other students from different elementary schools throughout the district.”
Partners in Music was created 12 years ago by music education faculty members Linda Thornton and Robert Gardner to provide the opportunity for young instrumentalists and prospective music teachers to make music together. Over six Wednesdays in the fall semester, fifth-grade students from State College Area School District, Our Lady of Victory School, and Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School rehearse on Penn State’s campus, conducted by senior music education majors. The rehearsals culminate in a concert near the end of fall semester. Begun as a pilot program in 2006, the partnership has grown to include both a band and a string orchestra, consisting of as many as 150 young instrumentalists each year. For music education students, the program offers beneficial hands-on experiences working with young musicians, and that is the best preparation for their culminating student teaching semester.