Strings Music Festival: Strings helps kids fall in love with music |

Strings Music Festival: Strings helps kids fall in love with music

Katie Carroll/For Steamboat Today

— Can you remember the first time you fell in love with music? For me, it was the song "The Loco-Motion" when I was 5 years old. I just thought swinging my hips to music was an amazing discovery. Then I started piano lessons and realized I could make my younger brother and sister dance around while I played.

My musical taste has since evolved, and I'm lucky enough now to work at Strings Music Festival and plan our in-school music education programs (sorry, Grand Funk Railroad is not on the list).

Strings began working in the schools in earnest in 2007 by creating Strings School Days. After eight years of working with over a dozen schools in three counties and more than 24,000 students, we decided to go even bigger. After talking to teachers, parents and school administrators, Strings School Days has expanded into the following three distinct, focused, music education programs.

• Mozart Masters: Strings hires professional musicians to work with middle and high school students in Steamboat and Craig. This revamped program doubles the time students spend with professionals from previous years. Musicians mentor students in six workshops, correspond over social media and ultimately play in a concert together at the pavilion during the course of one school year. This year, Trout Steak Revival and The Railsplitters will be mentoring our teen musicians. Mark your calendars for March 17 and 23 to see these bluegrass bands perform with Routt and Moffat county students in the pavilion.

• Tchaikovskys in Training: This brand-new concert series is for our youngest elementary school students before they choose an instrument. Students in kindergarten to fifth grades will be invited to the pavilion at least once during the school year to see a 45-minute performance. Before they come, teachers and parents can help them prepare with "Musical Notes," Strings' debut educational pre-show concert guide.

• Piazzolla Pioneers: If a school can't come to the pavilion, we will come to the school. Moving forward, Strings will plan to visit schools in South and North Routt regularly throughout the school year. A couple of weeks ago, we brought Todo Mundo to Hayden and Soroco for our first official Piazzolla concerts, and those guys blew the roof off of those places. There's nothing like seeing kindergarten students get so excited by reggae that they start a dance party.

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The entire Strings teams feels that it's imperative we invest in music education in the schools, and as a nonprofit, that means we must do it efficiently. Our production director works to book bands for evening concerts that also have vested interests in participating in our education programs.

Our development director finds grants and generous individual donors who believe in music education, and then we can afford to compensate those artists to stay longer and work with our students.

I hope these opportunities encourage students to approach music the same way we all love our winter sports — with passion. It doesn't matter if someone's Olympic-bound or a regular trailbuster on the weekends, as long as she's happy. Not everyone will be the next Miles Davis or Bruce Springsteen, but we can still all love to sing along (especially to the Loco-Motion).

Katie Carroll is director of artistic administration and education at Strings Music Pavilion.

Upcoming educational events

Oct. 26-30: Trout Steak Revival residency begins with high schools

Nov. 2-6: The Railsplitters residency begins with middle schools

February: Third, fourth and fifth grade field trip to the Pavilion

March 14-18: Trout Steak Revival returns for second residency

March 21-25: The Railsplitters returns for second residency

Concerts at Strings Music Pavilion

March 17: Trout Steak Revival with Steamboat Springs and Moffat County high schools

March 23: The Railsplitters with Steamboat Springs Middle School and Emerald Mountain Orchestra

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