WAXAHACHIE — Exploring the connection between math and music, the Waxahachie Symphony Association — in partnership with Waxahachie ISD — welcomed the Fort Worth Symphony Association in a clap-along performance for WISD fifth graders.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to expose children to the arts and see the connection between their core curriculum classes and mathematics, and connecting it to something they can listen and hear,” expressed Melissa Chapman, President of the Waxahachie Symphony Association.

Sponsorships by Citizens National Bank, Texas Commission of the Arts and the Waxahachie Foundation made Thursday’s event free-of-charge for the students and other guests.

“We have all the WISD fifth graders in the first performance, and then we open up the second performance to the community, Life School, and homeschooled children,” Chapman explained.

With two back-to-back concerts for the schools and the community, the WISD fifth graders were honored to preview the first showing of the Shirley Singleton Memorial Children's Concert, conducted by Jacob Joyce.

“It's a wonderful experience for the students to be exposed to be the symphony orchestra, you could see all the students faces that had not experienced this and just loved it,” recalled Melissa Cobb, WISD’s director of partners in education.

“The kids were very receptive, and even the teachers were very excited about it this year, and it’s just great exposure to the fine arts for the students who may not have the opportunity to experience this,” she added.

Preplanned curriculum from the symphony’s program was distributed to the WISD educators, as students learned about rhythm, tempo, and timing, later testing their knowledge during the symphony’s interactive setlist.

“There’s nothing like looking out at the crowd and seeing the children tapping their toes, clapping their hands, and keeping the beat with the conductor,” Chapman recalled. “They really seemed to know what was going on and enjoyed the process of the symphony.”

Combining number operations, beats, and measurement, and symphony vocabulary, students put their classroom skills to the test by learning the job of the conductor and each instrumentalist, collaboratively.

From warming up the orchestra to playing pieces that intertwined Tchaikovsky's Russian Dance from "The Nutcracker," Beethoven’s Funeral March from Symphony No. 3, and Aaron Copeland’s Hoedown from “Rodeo,” more than 600 kids smiled with bewilderment and wiggled with excitement.

“I think they really liked it because they were interactive with the audience, and this is something they wouldn’t get to do normally,” acknowledged Alisha Mathews, Northside Elementary fifth-grade teacher.

“For me, I’m excited that they get this type of exposure to a performance like this,” she included.

“They really enjoyed it,” affirmed Julia Carrillo, Northside Elementary fifth-grade teacher. “Next year, the students get to go into band, so this event gives them exposure to some of the instruments and creates an interest for that.

“They were excited because they recognized a lot of the songs, and so that’s something they were saying, ‘Oh, that’s from this, that’s from that,’” she chuckled. “And they’ll talk to the music teacher about the different beats and counting to where they make that connection with math.”

As for the reaction of the students, fifth graders, Justin Smithey and Avery Mathis, were all smiles after the performance.

“It was good!” Smithey exclaimed. “My favorite part was Beethoven because I like that composer. I don’t play an instrument now but I might after this. I really want to do baseball and band. I don’t know if I can do both but that’s I want to do.”

“It was really good,” Mathis agreed. “I liked all the different pieces and how good the musicians were. We got to clap along to the beats, so that was really cool.”

“We’re so fortunate in Waxahachie that we have a symphony association that makes this possible for Waxahachie ISD to have a partnership like this,” Cobb esteemed.

“It’s a complete effort of Waxahachie ISD to bring all of this to our students, and we’re so thankful for our partnership with the Waxahachie Symphony to provide this for the students,” she complimented. ”We think this is an experience they will remember for a lifetime.”

“We want to help open their [the students] horizons and provide them with the same entertainment they could get if they were going to Dallas or Fort Worth right here at home,” Chapman affirmed.

“It’s such a privilege to have an accomplished group coming here and provide this entertainment for them,” she added. “I think it’s something that every child should get the opportunity to experience, and we’re just thrilled to be able to provide that for them.”

To connect with the Waxahachie Symphony Association, visit WaxahachieSymphony.org.


Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer