It’s great news, but no surprise.
Last week, OrchKids (the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s five-year-old program to bring instrumental music instruction to city students) got its latest honor – a million-dollar gift that will help it double the number of students it serves.
In November, they received a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award and were feted at a White House ceremony with First Lady Michelle Obama.
After The Brew spent some time last year with the OrchKids students at Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School in West Baltimore, we came to understand their successful formula: eager kids, energized, skilled instructors (top-shelf local musicians, many hailing from Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute) and lots of hard work, for hours every week.
For instance, we watched 7-year-old oboe student Morgan Brown working painstakingly with teacher Russell Kirk to master a hard-to-hit a C-sharp and acquire the cool-headed-ness needed to stay calm and keep playing, should she miss it during a performance.
Kirk tried humor, a pep talk and an assortment of teaching metaphors and Brown tried again and again (read more about how it went here) until she finally was able to hit the note cleanly and sail through the piece.
“You’ve got it!” Kirk had said, grinning.
The gift from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker will increase the number of participating schools from five to eight by 2019 and will boost enrollment from 750 students to 1,600.
Below is link to a video of the November ceremony at the White House in which OrchKids director Dan Trahey and eighth-grader Asia Palmer (an OrchKids partcipant since it started in 2008) accepted the award on behalf of the program.