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District 518 beginning band, string students make most of summer

Instructor Jeanette Jenson offers tips to fifth-grade percussionist Austin Kinzer as he tackles the marimba for the first time. (Jane Turpim Moore / The Globe)1 / 3
Seventh-grade string students are focused on their music during two weeks of optional instruction at Worthington Middle School. (Jane Turpin Moore / The Globe)2 / 3
Another shot of seventh-grade string students. (Jane Turpin Moore / The Globe)3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — Dozens of District 518 music students are capitalizing on the dog days of summer to enhance their musical abilities.

For the past two weeks, Worthington Middle School (WMS) music instructors Zac Paulsen, Jeanette Jenson and Mike Andersen have worked daily with orchestra and band students.

“It’s been a little crazy,” said Paulsen, who presided over 65 fifth- through eighth-graders between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. each week day, “but the kids have worked hard.

“They’ve been reviewing notes, fingerings, instrument positioning and more.”

Next door, Andersen and Jenson have led 80 fifth-grade beginning band students in sectional classes.

“The goal of our summer program is to give students a jumpstart to the school year,” said Jenson.

“Without this summer band program, we wouldn’t see the success that we experience at each level of band throughout the entire district.”

Learning the basics — like how to listen appropriately to a director, apply musical concepts (dynamics, note values, terminology, etc.) and how to push air through wind instruments — becomes top priority.

“This sets the tone for the coming year,” said Jenson, noting the instructors were aided by a handful of high school instrumentalists recommended by Worthington High School (WHS) band director Jon Loy.

“Really, the foundation for summer band starts in early January with screening of students and instrument displays,” she added. “All of this takes many hands, and I am grateful for the support of my music colleagues, school administrators and parents.”

Meanwhile, 13 of Melanie Loy’s WHS string students are spending two weeks in evening sessions with her, exercising their skills both in sectionals and as a small ensemble.

Their efforts will culminate with an informal performance at 7 p.m. Friday at WHS.

Paulsen is rewarding his younger students with the opportunity to see the musical “Newsies” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, an outing they are experiencing today.

“It should be lots of fun, and a great chance for them to see professional artists in action,” said Paulsen.