A nonprofit organization is helping ESL students learn the language of music.
“Every child should have the opportunity to experience music,” said Sharon Landis, executive director of the Decatur Youth Symphony. She teaches violin to a group of Spanish-speaking students at Austin High School once a week. “It benefits the mind and the soul.”
The task of providing every child with music is a mission for Landis and other Decatur Youth Symphony instructors. The nonprofit orchestra has worked toward this goal for 15 years.
“They are always so excited for Tuesday because it is violin day,” said teacher Cheri Page. “Every Tuesday we have the same conversation. They ask if they have violin. I ask, ‘Is it Tuesday?’ They say ‘Yes.’ I say, ‘Then you have violin.’ It doesn’t matter how many times I assure them they will be able to play, they keep asking.”
Many of the students are limited in their English language proficiency. Some have grown up in Decatur in Spanish-speaking homes. Other students recently moved to Alabama from Central America, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.