School Spotlight: Wayzata East creates music for elderly
Passing time in a suburban middle school brings hundreds of students scurrying into the halls. But don’t let the appearance of energetic middle school students scare you into forming negative stereotypes.
“Everybody’s afraid of it, like ‘ooh middle school,’” said Sue Kim, a band teacher at Wayzata East Middle School.
Middle School is the best group of students to teach
“That’s the magical age of where you capture things that are going to leave an impression on them as they move into high school and into the community,” she said. “And I think that’s what people don’t realize.”
Kim uses music as the vehicle to capture the students’ hearts and minds. Yet there’s only so much a student can learn in a classroom.
That’s why, some of the East Middle School band students are getting out into the community to share their talents with others — specifically, those who may not have the ability to travel far from where they live.
“That’s what catapulted this into this idea of, how can I connect all these hundreds of kids that know how to play instruments in schools, with all of these hundreds of seniors that can’t get out anymore to enjoy things” Kim said.
Harmony Bridge is a nationwide effort founded by Michael Levine, who served as the music director for the students’ performance at St. Therese of New Hope Wednesday morning.
Participation, by the way, is completely voluntary.
“I know that they can’t really get out any more and go to shows, so I thought it would just be a really neat thing to go and perform for them,” said Max Richard, an East Middle School 7th grader.
But Harmony Bridge is about more than just performing. The students also take time to interact with the seniors once they finish playing.
“The students were able to learn from the residents that the residents had many of the same experiences, interest, favorite flavors of ice cream, they used to play band music,” said Christine Nye, the community life director at St. Therese of New Hope.
The age gap between the students and seniors spans several decades, yet for an hour in early October, they found common ground through the universal language of music.
“I think it was a success. Very much a success,” Kim said.
Students in the East Middle School Harmony Bridge Club have rehearsals every Monday morning. The goal this year is to perform for a different group once every two months