By Marsha Bartulec – Erie, ColoradoAt Vista Ridge Academy, arts play a crucial role in building strong minds. In addition to weekly music and art classes, VRA offers opportunities for students to participate in choir and Strings of the Rockies program, funded in part by Avista Adventist Hospital.

The Strings of the Rockies program helps students learn that effort, partnered with perseverance, leads to success. Through training in technique and reading music, students are able to strengthen parts of their brain that would not otherwise be developed.

In preschool, the main goal is to develop a love a music by teaching students to have a trained ear to hear low and high pitches, and through listening to different musical styles, they can maintain a steady beat, as they clap, march and stomp to the beat.

In Kindergarten, they are given wooden violins, and start to learn musical techniques.

First through fourth grade students have learning stations, which include learning to read music, ear training, and listening stations.

Strings of the Rockies Program Director Holly Curtis says a big part of the program is character development.

“Playing an instrument is not always easy. Violin is one of those instruments that can be difficult. Through learning to persevere and stick with it, I feel in my own life it developed so many different character qualities in me that I wouldn’t have developed otherwise. Learning to play violin connects different pathways in the brain, and as students are growing as a person, they get to have that experience with music to help develop their character as well,” says Curtis.

The violin class, over the years, has performed for various church and local community events including Avista Adventist Hospital, Chapel Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church and Northglenn Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church. They have also performed for the annual Christmas and Spring concert programs.

During this year’s Christmas program, student violin performances will be pre-recorded and shared at the Christmas program on December 17 via Zoom.

–Marsha Bartulec is the VP for administration at Vista Ridge Academy; photo by Greg Floyd (photo taken during 2018 Christmas program)