Story, photos & videos by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
Swedish conductor Göran Staxäng has looked at school music programs around the world, but hasn’t found any community that matches what Ann Arbor Public Schools offers.
“Ann Arbor involves every child, giving them the opportunity to discover music,” says Staxäng. director of the Centre Children & Music in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We have yet to see a music program that parallels the music program in Ann Arbor.”
Hoping that other schools around the world will follow the lead of AAPS, Staxäng has invited a group of AAPS musicians and teachers to perform at the Stockholm Concert Hall at a special event on Dec. 21, and is funding all travel expenses.
“Obviously there are political decisions behind it, but I would like to see more people starting to demand the same for their kids.”
It all began when Staxäng studied at the University of Michigan in the 1990s and was introduced to the Ann Arbor Public Schools K-12 music program by University of Michigan Music Professor Elizabeth Green.
He was so impressed that he created a documentary video highlighting several students and teachers.
Ann Arbor will represent the United States at the Stockholm forum, and will be joined by schools from four other countries.
Because Green was fundamental in founding the orchestral program at Pioneer, a small string quartet from Pioneer has been selected to travel to Sweden to perform and represent Ann Arbor. In addition to the four students, there will be one parent chaperone along with Orchestra Director Jonathan Glawe, Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator Robin Bailey, and Carpenter Elementary music teacher Ann Marie Borders.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and adds a valuable dimension to the world-class education that is provided by the Ann Arbor Public Schools,” says Bailey.
Borders says she’s honored to be chosen to attend the conference, along with the opportunity to meet and talk with educators from five other countries.
“I look forward to viewing the documentary demonstrating the best musical practices used in our schools and hope to share this information with my colleagues when I return,” she says.
Borders says her students sing and play instruments in every language and culture.
“We learn. share, inform, react, demonstrate and relate our hopes dreams, successes, passion, and knowledge through music,” she says. “We are very lucky that Ann Arbor schools understands the brain research associated with having music in our classrooms. I’m hoping that after the conference is over, stakeholders in all five countries will agree.”