JMS 5th grader Simeon Henderson practices his violin technique during class.
It has long been observed that students who study music perform better academically, and develop greater social awareness, co-operative behavior, and empathy for others. In the face of amassing research by psychologists, neurologists, musicologists, and education experts, all supporting the benefits of music education, music continues to fall through the cracks of curriculum design and school instruction. Jewish day schools, persistently challenged with time and resources, struggle to include music in their students’ education. Unfettered by the current, the Jewish Middle School is poised to buck the trend with their newly established strings program.
Several factors make the Jewish Middle School uniquely positioned to launch a successful strings program. The faculty’s collaborative nature, along with their interest in exploring creative and engaging educational practices makes it the perfect space to develop a music curriculum. The small class sizes at the school present an opportunity for a more intensive and comprehensive introduction to the fundamentals of string technique and performance skills. Further, the proximity to an internationally recognized school of music means that JMS can collaborate with expert faculty and instructors. Recognizing this opportunity for JMS, founder Rabbi Saul Strosberg connected with Dr. Zack Ebin from Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music to help design a curriculum tailored to JMS students. Dr. Lorenzo F. Candelaria, Dean of the Blair School, believes deeply in the advancement of music education in the greater Nashville community and eagerly applauds the development of a JMS strings program. “The mission of the Blair School,” says Dr. Candelaria, “is to transform our world, one community at a time—through the arts, with the arts, and in the arts. We look forward to working closely with Rabbi Strosberg, Dr. Ebin, and the JMS strings program to forge new pathways for student success and socioeconomic mobility through music.”
JMS students will take part in a weekly class with Dr. Ebin and will perform their mastered repertoire at the end of the semester. Dr. Ebin is looking forward to working with the JMS students and reflects that, “Music and the Nashville Jewish community are two things I am very passionate about. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my knowledge as a music educator to one of our community’s schools.” Head of School Alene Arnold is equally excited to offer JMS students the opportunity to, “engage with the arts on a deeper level.” Arnold adds that, “As a middle school in Music City, we have such a wealth of talent to tap into, and we are grateful for Vanderbilt’s support and involvement.” The new strings program at JMS is another outstanding example of the school’s commitment to providing an exceptional academic experience focused on the growth and development of the whole child.