This article written by Lani Garner of El Sistema Oklahoma City
El Sistema OKC is a unique after-school music program that serves over 250 underserved public school children in the heart of Oklahoma City. Students receive an orchestra instrument and music instruction five days a week and participate in one of three orchestras: Nueva, our newest and youngest musicians; Alegria, our intermediate-level musicians; and Esperanza, our advanced musicians. El Sistema OKC students are bused from area schools to our facility, given a small meal and time to work on homework, then attend guided small group instrument practice and participate in a music class. Daily music classes guide students in reading, writing, and creating music in an interactive classroom environment. Students meet bi-weekly in both a Creative Music class and a Music Fundamentals class. Our wonderful Area 9 chimes were incorporated into the regular Creative Music curriculum. El Sistema OK students range from the 3rd through 9th grades. This year, students from all levels had the opportunity to experience the chimes. The students were so excited for the opportunity to play the handchimes.
In the spring of 2017, our oldest students in Esperanza learned more contemporary pieces of music such as Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ While this piece proved extremely challenging, students rose to their highest potential and succeeded in performing this piece. Our youngest students in Nueva used the chimes to help accompany numerous vocal pieces they were learning, while our young middle school students from the Alegria Orchestra learned to create new compositions and extend their improvisation skills. One of the teachers often played his guitar to accompany the students while they were playing their chime pieces. It has been a very productive year, and we are truly grateful for the opportunity to incorporate chimes into our program.