'Village' families visit campus for afternoon concert
Local children who receive help learning to read from Elon University students were part of a Sunday musical performance in Whitley Auditorium.
Dozens of local children and their parents took part April 28 in a campus concert to celebrate their achievements this spring in a tutoring program hosted by the School of Education.
Elementary school students from Alamance County sang in Whitley Auditorium alongside parents and Elon University student musicians as part of the “Music in the Village” concert, organized through the “It Takes A Village” initiative run by Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr.
Selections included “We Are Many and Yet We Are One” and “Stand Together.” The Elon University World Percussion Ensemble performed pieces, as did several students and professors from the Department of Music.
It was the first concert ever hosted by what Rohr affectionately calls The Village Project. Each semester, Elon education majors work with children from the surrounding communities who are struggling to read. The Elon students consult with parents and teachers to devise strategies and lessons for overcoming some of the common obstacles to reading success.
For the past several years, The Village Project has taken place in the May Memorial Library in downtown Burlington, a central location in Alamance County that made it easier for parents to be a part of the effort. The Village Project expanded last fall to include science lessons, and this spring marks the first time music has been introduced into the initiative.
“I really believe that when you use everything you have, it works,” Rohr said of incorporating music education into her program. Reading isn’t just about books, she said. Learning to sing requires a different style of reading, and the skills children develop with music translate into reading comprehension.
The success of The Village Project has earned it several hundred thousand dollars in external funding from the Switzerland-based Oak Foundation. It has since been replicated at colleges in North Carolina and Oregon.
“Elon University wants to be your partner in helping you to achieve your dreams,” Elon President Leo M. Lambert said in his welcoming remarks on Sunday. “I’m delighted to have every single person here today. The Elon University family embraces you and welcomes you!”
Children spent one evening a week since February working with Assistant Professor Gerald Knight on music comprehension and one evening with their reading tutors. “It’s a skill in life to stand before people and to deliver, whether it be a speech or a song,” he said. “It takes attention and confidence to know how have a command of something.”
Parents were equally thrilled with the music education component of The Village Project.
“It gave my children knowledge and power to recognize good music,” said Tori Tinnen of Snow Camp, N.C., who worked with her children this spring and sang with them on stage. “It was worth every penny spent to make sure we got here.”