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Concert allows students to work collectively in orchestra
Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy’s Jaden Waldrop performs Thursday afternoon during a strings workshop with students from McEver Arts Academy and home-schooled students at the First Baptist Church banquet hall in Gainesville.

Workshop and concert

Where: Banquet Hall at First Baptist Church, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

When: Workshop, 1-4 p.m. today; concert, 4 p.m. today

How much: Concert is free

Bringing children from across the community, the Hall County Strings Workshop gives students from third through fifth grades an opportunity to work together as an orchestra.

“Oftentimes they’re learning through private lessons, which is fine, but playing with an orchestra is a whole different skill set,”  said Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy music teacher Gretchen Welch. “The children learn to play together and work together as a team.”

Students from Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy and McEver Arts Academy as well as some home-schooled children will play three different pieces for the community at 4 p.m. today.

“Here at Wauka Mountain, we have a strings program that starts in second grade,” Welch said. “Some students start as early as 3 years old.”

Teaching the workshops will be Emese Vas and Wendy Baker from Brenau University and professional violinist Linda Williams.

The director of the Gainesville String Orchestra, Steve Coldiron, will conduct the young musicians and has picked two pieces for the children to play and composed a third piece for them.

“One of them is called ‘Beethoven’s Lullaby’ and the other one is called ‘Bach Country Fiddles,’” Welch said.

The third piece is variations of “Yankee Doodle,” which the young string players at Wauka Mountain Intelligences Academy helped compose.

“The kids are getting six weeks of music instruction in two days,” Coldiron said.

The program, running for its second year, is designed to give the children a lifelong love for music.

“Our mission is to get kids started early, playing through elementary school, middle and high school and then on to our Gainesville String Orchestra,” Coldiron said.

Proud of how hard her students have worked, Welch said playing instruments at a young age is physical activity as well.

“The stamina to be able to hold the instruments up is a challenge for little bodies,” she said.

With last year being a success, the workshop will have children playing violins and cellos.

“We want to get them excited and get them playing so that they can be lifelong musicians,” Welch said.

Music is important for kids because not only is it joyful, it also increases connections in the brain and increases the actual amount of the brain that is used, Welch said.

“Music education is so multifaceted that there (are) research studies showing that children who take music do better in school, they do better in reading, in math, and they do better on the SATs because it provides so much brain-friendly activity,” the music teacher added.