“The History of Rock ’n’ Roll,” replete with the Beatles, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, is the latest Adventures in Music — AIM — program traveling to schools across the region. Children from Quilcene and Chimacum to Neah Bay and Sequim are singing and dancing to rock classics, thanks to these classroom sessions, presented by the nonprofit Port Angeles Symphony.
AIM runs strictly on support from local businesses and individuals including First Security Bank, which just made a $2,500 grant to the program. Donations such as this have enabled AIM to expand to both Jefferson and Clallam counties, said Jonathan Pasternack, Port Angeles Symphony conductor and music director.
Along with other contributions, First Security’s grant helps the AIM ensemble of musicians travel three times per year to 18 elementary schools on the North Olympic Peninsula.
AIM director Al Harris noted that this past year, his band has played and discussed music with some 13,000 students and their teachers.
The history of rock presentation features well-known local performers: singer Amanda Bacon, guitarist Chuck Easton, bassist Elaine Gardner-Morales, drummer Angie Tabor and pianist Harris. This latest program delves into how blues, gospel, jazz and funk laid the foundations for rock ’n’ roll. Last week alone, the group slated morning visits to Hamilton, Jefferson and Dry Creek elementary schools in Port Angeles and Crescent School in Joyce.
With each visit, AIM provides teachers’ guides for educators and handouts for students. The handout gives students and their families free admission to any of the Port Angeles Symphony’s public rehearsals during the year and enters them into a drawing for free season tickets for the next year.
Other AIM programs have highlighted country music, music of the First Nations and classics such as Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” with a Port Angeles Symphony woodwind quintet.
These programs, presented free in public and private schools, are designed to expose youngsters to a world of music they may not otherwise explore, said Harris. In the wake of cuts in arts education, AIM provides a look at — and a listen to — genres from the classical to the contemporary.
“Music is an important component that often gets cut when schools have inadequate budgets,” Harris said, “yet it has been proven many times that the arts encourage students to excel” in the rest of their studies.
For information about supporting Adventures in Music and the Port Angeles Symphony, contact Pasternack at 360-457-5579 or [email protected].