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Earlimart’s one music teacher, Harmony Drumm (a bassoon player with the Symphony), began the EarliStrings violin program in 2015 in conjunction with the Tulare County Symphony.
Harmony based the program on the curriculum she wrote for the HeartStrings program, which the Symphony started at Woodville School the previous year. Earlimart School administrators, parents and students were delighted.
“We whole-heartedly support the violin program,” says Principal Bill Holden. “In my day, music was a huge part of school. And we all know that kids who participate in music instruction do better in school.”
Music had been missing from the school district for 15 years until five years ago when Harmony’s sister, Melody Drumm (who plays English horn with the Symphony), was hired. The school had gotten a grant for a new band room and refurbished some old instruments and bought new ones. When Melody left for a position in Southern California, Harmony took over the music program.
Harmony uses the renowned El Sistema approach to teach classroom music to the young students and band to the fifth-eighth grade students. Created in Venezuela in 1974, El Sistema is designed not only to create great musicians but to dramatically change the lives of the neediest children. Bruce Kiesling used this system when he directed the Youth Orchestras of Los Angeles (YOLA). He saw dramatic changes in the YOLA students and wanted to use the same model in Tulare County.
Harmony has had Symphony musicians come and work with her violin and band students, some of whom are in the program up to four days each week. She fully believes in the words of Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema. “From the minute a child is taught how to play an instrument, he is no longer poor. He becomes a child in progress, who will become a citizen.”