Reading School District students get free music lessons from orchestra members

Free musical instruction for students in the Reading School District will continue indefinitely thanks to a collaboration with the Reading Symphony Orchestra.

The school board voted Tuesday to enter into an agreement with RSO for Orchestra Zone, an RSO project that offers free after-school instrumental music lessons on a weekly basis to the district’s middle and high school students.

“Private lessons on a band or orchestra instrument help a student develop much more rapidly on their instrument,” David Himes, RSO’s education manager, wrote in a memorandum to the school board. “These students become the leaders of the ensembles that are performing in the district.”

The program, begun in 2008, is not intended to replace musical ensemble instruction in the district, he said. Instead, it is meant to supplement programs and help students gain proficiency and confidence.

Under the new agreement, the program will continue year to year at no cost to the district or students until terminated by either the district or RSO.

The district will provide classroom space, music stands and most of the instruments.

Funding for the instructors’ salaries and extra equipment will come from the RSO.

Students are selected for the program based on recommendations from the district.

The program begins in October and goes until May, each school year, and can be conducted virtually if the district needs to return to virtual instruction, Himes said.

The free instruction is provided exclusively to students in the district, he said, noting they may not have as many opportunities for private musical instruction as those in surrounding districts.

In other business, the board approved an agreement with the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, 701 Penn St., to host Reading High School’s senior prom on May 12.


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