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Linda Mah
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Kids in Tune Added Families in February

Families in Tune Invites Parents to Explore Music

Kalamazoo Kids In Tune (KKIT) — an orchestra-immersion youth development program serving students after school at Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts — invited parents and guardians join their orchestra every Thursday for the month of February for its new initiative called Families in Tune.

Families In Tune was created to increase involvement by giving family members a first-hand experience of being a KKIT student. Parents and guardians had the opportunity to play an instrument side-by- side with students in their full orchestra.

Families In Tune will join the KKIT orchestra members for the KKIT Gala Finale 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Chenery Auditorium. Joining them on stage will be members of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, the KKIT Young Leaders Middle School Chamber Orchestra, the KKIT Fundamentals Choir with soloist Christine Mason and Orchestra Rouh, an ensemble of children from refugee families. 

The concert will feature works by Rossini, Bizet, Hindesmith and others. 

Families In Tune allowed parents to play familiar instruments and to explore new sounds. Ranging from trombone to flute players, some parents returned to instruments they played in the past while others were introduced to an instrument for the first time. Each received lessons from the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

KKIT is led by Dr. Eric Barth, KKIT curriculum director and conductor. “We’re delighted by the parent participants who have joined us this month as we kick off Families in Tune,” Barth said. “This is a step toward our dream of building a greater music-making community in Kalamazoo built on the foundation we’ve laid over the last six years at Kids in Tune.”

Sarah Garcez has been familiar with the KKIT program since the beginning. Her daughter, Clara, now in middle school, has been playing with the program since its inception in 2011 and still participates by coaching younger Woods Lake players through the KKIT Young Leader program. With encouragement from a fellow parent and without prior experience, Garcez chose to play the trombone.

“We’re constantly trying to push kids out of their comfort zone by encouraging them to try new things,” Garcez said. “But for adults, it’s not always as easy to do the same. It’s been a fun experience and a nice way to connect and support a program that has given so much to our kids and our community.”

The KKIT program is a collaboration of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Public Schools. Each student selects an instrument to study and participates in group lessons and orchestra rehearsals.

Every day includes a nutritious meal and assisted homework time. Mindfulness practice is taught in dedicated classes and integrated into music lessons and orchestra rehearsals, creating a culture of kindness to self and others. Additional “club” opportunities are offered to reinforce academic learning and provide avenues for exploration.

By learning to play instruments in an ensemble setting, students develop a sense of community and build mastery and resilience: skills that make music study rewarding and contribute to success in the classroom.

KKIT is funded largely by the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers), the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and the Greg Jennings Foundation, along with corporate sponsors Chemical Bank, DENSO, and Eaton Corporation.
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