Originally created 07/06/06

Sound of learning



Appearing nervous, Adryan Ray stood with his violin in front of bleachers filled with youngsters, parents and the Boys and Girls Club's Dogwood Unit staff. Taking a deep breath, he played Mary Had a Little Lamb.

This was his first performance in front of his peers.

"They kept smiling at me," the Jenkins-White Elementary School fifth-grader said. "They made me mess up."

Adryan, 10, was one of 25 children who played the violin at an Artscape Music mini performance June 28.

Scott Richardson, the strings and band teacher at Butler High School, gave the youths 12 days of instruction in violin and reading music through Artscape, a summer arts program that the Greater Augusta Arts Council developed eight years ago for at-risk and low-income children.

The program teaches dance, music, drama, visual arts, vocals and African drums. Artscape began collaborating with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Augusta this past year, said Erin Jacobs, the community programs director for the arts council. Because of their efforts, 250 children are enrolled in Artscape, she said.

"It's about creating well-rounded children," Ms. Jacobs said.

The kids have done great, Mr. Richardson said.

"And that's what's nice about the program - these kids would not get exposure to this if not for Artscape," he said.

The program had more children than there were instruments this summer. Rather than turn children away, Mr. Richardson said, he pieced together six violins from broken instruments.

"It's just the thing you do when you love music," he said. "These kids deserve it. Whatever we can put together we'll put together because they deserve the best they can have."

Mr. Richardson said that 35 to 50 percent of children enrolled in Artscape end up joining the Richmond County Orchestra Program.

Adryan began playing with Artscape last summer because he "just wanted to try something new."

"I like playing an instrument," he said. "Music calms me down."

Brandon Bush, 8, was excited to participate in the violin program because he'd always liked seeing people play the instrument, he said.

"I liked how they move with their hands to make music," he said.

Tony Clayton, 11, who watched the performance from the stands, said he enjoyed the show.

"I might join," he said. "I didn't know it was that fun, that you get to read music and everything."

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.

Feeling Artsy?

For more information about the Greater Augusta Arts Council and its programs, call (706) 826-4702.