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Arts group sets goals for music program

Intent is for every student to be able to read music and play an instrument before getting to high school.

February 24, 2007|By Rachel Kane

BURBANK — The Burbank Arts Education Foundation board members revealed aspirations Wednesday for a greatly improved music program in the district's elementary schools that would have every student able to read music and play an instrument before they get to high school.

The music program is just one piece of the newly formed foundation's 10-year plan and just one of many developing strides in the district's and foundation's push for improved arts education.

More than 30 community members, including teachers, parents, district officials and staff and foundation board members, attended at the foundation's first public meeting Wednesday.

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"We have accomplished some of the major structural pieces to the [Arts for All] program and now we are going on to implementation," said Gregory Bowman, superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District.

District representatives also talked about advancements in the arts programs like the 12 new artists in residence in the district, the hiring of two new music teachers for elementary grade levels and the acquisition of one-time state funds to buy arts and music equipment for the schools.

"It's really striking," Assistant Supt. Joel Shapiro said. "We can talk about it, but seeing it in action is really a delight."

District Arts Coordinator Peggy Flynn stressed the importance of basic arts education for teachers in Burbank and explained how their exposure to multiple art methods would benefit the students.

"If you don't know how to turn on a kiln, chances are you're not going to do a lot of clay," Flynn said.

Currently, most arts education in schools are supplemented by PTA and boosters clubs, which Shapiro said has led to a state of inequity in the arts within the district.

The foundation will strive to bring the same amount of arts, music, drama and dance education to all schools within the district by working from a set criteria used at every school.

Students will not be graded on the art itself, but they will be graded on criteria the art needs to meet.

Although PTA and Booster club involvement is still encouraged, district board member Larry Applebaum pointed out that the programs may have to change to focus on the district's vision of arts education.

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