CHIME music program expands
TROY, N.Y. >> The Empire State Youth Orchestra’s CHIME (Creating Harmony, Inspiring Musical Excellence) program, which currently provides young musicians in the Schenectady City School District an equal opportunity to develop their skills and break down barriers, has expanded into the Collar City, providing students at Carroll Hill Elementary School enrichment after school.
CHIME was created and developed by leaders at ESYO three years ago.
Elizabeth Swift, who is a musician, music educator and an alumna of ESYO, was chosen to head up the program that was launched only a few weeks ago. She serves as the CHIME program manager and Troy Site Leader.
Officials said the program in Troy currently serves f irst- through third- grade students at the school. They are starting with 20 students in a strings program who will practice two hours a day, five days a week, during the school year. The curriculum includes a general music component, small group breakouts and a full class ensemble.
“ESYO CHIME has an amazing philosophy, ‘ breaking down barriers and providing equal access to music instruction.’ This provides an opportunity to change lives in a transformative way. As a teacher and as mentor, I witness improvements in students daily through their musical accomplishments. Their achievements are shared with families, siblings, teachers and members of communities,” said Swift in a news release.
Becky Calos, who serves as executive director of ESYO and who worked to create the CHIME program, said she is thrilled to take this next step of expansion.
“Since the inception of CHIME, it has always been a goal to have a program in the Troy City School District. This has become a reality thanks to many talented and passionate educators who are dedicating their lives to inspiring student musicians. We look forward to working hard both in Troy and Schenectady this year while continuing to explore additional regions for a CHIME expansion in the near future,” said Calos in the release.
Officials said the Troy City School District is able to offer CHIME thanks to the Empire State After School Program that is f unded through a grant.
Each of the five elementary schools host their own after school program, resulting in additional learning time for students in Grades K- 5.
Officials said the program is staffed by school district staff as well those involved with partner organizations including the Troy YMCA and the Troy Boys and Girls Club.
The staff provide academic support, mindfulness and enrichment activities.
“Troy CHIME is a wonderful enhancement to an already robust program. I am excited that by having CHIME in Troy, it means that many of these students will have additional opportunities for focused immersion in string instruction on a daily basis. I am hopeful that these students will choose to pursue music throughout high school and beyond. Troy CHIME provides students with artistic and creative opportunities as well as the opportunity to be exposed to classical music, which is shown to improve math, ELA and interpersonal skills,” said Hilary Montesano in the release, who serves as grant facilitator.
Swift said they have some specific goals in regards to the program this school year.
“Most importantly, we’d like the students to perform as much as possible,” she said. We’d like to collaborate with some of the Schenectady CHIME locations to put on monthly concerts and host a few additional formal performances.”
Kayleigh Retell is a parent of a second-grade student who is part of Troy CHIME.
“I am excited about my daughter having a fun activity after school while also learning something new. Madison saw some kids from CHIME play at her open house. She literally jumped up and down in excitement and begged me to sign her up. She’s always wanted to play an instrument. I am also excited about her being able to put her mind to something to create her own success,” she said in the release.
As far as future goals of the program, the team, which recently welcomed Carlos Ágreda as its new Music Director, said they would like to serve more students at additional Troy schools.
According to the release, Ágreda is impressed with how successful CHIME has proven to be, and is eager to apply his own experience with Sistema- inspired programs to helping Troy CHIME to grow.
The team plans to offer additional instrument choices in the future. This would allow the Troy program to become similar to Schenectady CHIME where instruction is offered to students at several schools and those musicians are able to come together, in one location, for a full symphonic experience.
The team said they’d also like to offer additional instrument choices and said this would allow the Troy program to become similar to Schenectady CHIME where instruction is offered to students at several schools and those musicians are able to come together, in one location, for a full symphonic experience.
CHIME is so much more than a traditional music education program according to Swift.
“CHIME is a place where we can really encourage a growth mindset, an environment to entertain ‘ possibilities’ and the power of ‘not yet, but you will.’ We have the opportunity to teach the students that hard work and dedication to a task will lead to a more fulfilling life. Music is not a material object to be taken away. Once learned, it is yours forever,” she said in the release.