From September through December 2004, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra engaged in a special project called "Instrumental Achievement." The project, which culminated in a video program available via satellite and the Internet, documents the instructional journey of a middle school music student and a master teacher over a six-month period of time.
The program features student violinist Chelsea Sharpe and her teacher, ASO violinist Ronda Respess in a series of lessons that provide insight into the:
- Process/progress of learning over time
- Importance of the relationship between a student and a teacher
- Selection of a teacher and the complex responsibility of the teacher's role
- Selection of a student and the guidance young musicians require
- Qualities and best practices that lead to efficient and effective learning experiences
- Preparation for the audition process
- Relationship between the student's private and public school music teachers
- Preparation of the student for the pressures of failure and success
Chelsea, a sixth-grader at Duluth Middle School, has been playing the violin for six years, the last two under the guidance of Ms. Respess.
GPB taped a total of six lessons for the project, beginning with Chelsea's introduction to the material she would need to learn for her All-State audition, and culminating with her performance of those pieces before a live audience. The progression of lessons captures Chelsea's musical development as well as the process of teaching and learning in the world of music. Interviews with Chelsea, her family, Ms Respess, and education experts about the audition preparation process are included in the documentary, giving viewers a greater understanding of the immense amount of time, effort, and discipline required to become a successful musician.
The final video, which will include selections from each of the lessons organized around specific learning themes, will be available to be recorded from satellite or downloaded via the Internet in the coming months. The video can be used by music teachers in both the public and private sectors, college and university faculty preparing pre-service teachers, students preparing for auditions, AND students and their parents discerning the possibility of a career as a professional musician.
The partnership between the ASO and GPB is generating a lot of excitement. "This collaboration... enables the ASO to extend its education reach beyond the Atlanta area to include all instrumental music teachers in Georgia and their students. We look forward to many more opportunities to work together," says Susan Merritt, Director of Education for the ASO.
In addition to the "Instrumental Achievement" project, GPB has also partnered with the ASO to make symphony performances available to listeners statewide through the GPB radio network. Tune in to GPB radio every Thursday at 8 PM and again Sunday at 10 PM to hear the world-class Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and interviews with renowned conductors, solo performers, and members of the orchestra.