STRONG — Students in instructor Graybert Beacham’s fifth-grade class offered the Regional School Unit 58 board, staff and audience an opportunity to appreciate their months of practice and lessons at their performance at the Strong Elementary School on Thursday evening. The performance included six short pieces that demonstrated the students’ understanding of timing, tempo and variation of a melody.

The RSU 58 elementary school music program encourages students to appreciate the complexity and challenges of composition and sound. 

The first tune, Beacham said, was arranged by child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In his mid-20s, he composed a set of 12 improvisations on the French song, “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman.” Today, students might be more familiar with the same melody as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” or “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”

School Principal Felecia Pease said the stringed orchestra started eight years ago.

“Those who started in the first class are now sophomores in high school,” she said.

Music has a universal connection, no matter what other languages these young people speak, she said. “A B-flat in Maine is the is the same B-flat in Paris, and it’s the same B-flat in Istanbul.”

Students have to commit to the music program during the entire school year, she said. They meet with Graybert Beacham once a week for lessons, she said. Beacham teaches strings and general music to the district’s elementary school students.

Among the three schools, Pease estimated that approximately 35 students enrolled in the music program. They learn proper presentation during performances, including how to introduce themselves and how to stand and bow at the end of their performances.

Instruments are provided through donations from parents, the Carrabassett Valley School District and Kingfield POPS.

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