Behind the Scenes interview with Dr. Ron McCurdy

September 15, 2015

In 2015, ART310 will raise money to create a music appreciation program for the children of the Hermosa Beach School District. The program will be curated by Dr. Ron McCurdy--musician, Grammy Committee member and professor of Music/Jazz studies, Thornton School of Music at USC. Dr. McCurdy and his graduate students will perform several times throughout the year to explore different musical styles and encourage student and musician engagement. In addition, every 4th and 5th grader in Hermosa Beach will take a trip to Disney Concert Hall.

The program that is being designed by Dr. Ron McCurdy will be an introduction to music, arts, and culture, “We’re going to be exposing students to culture. And I always say, ‘You always measure the sophistication of a culture by how they value and treat the arts.’ And the fact that Hermosa Beach is in the vanguard of creating this experience for these students, this is absolutely invaluable.” Dr. McCurdy is hoping this program will help students become lifelong appreciators of music and consumers of the arts.

Dr. McCurdy enjoys giving back and he enjoys helping students to be exposed to all different kinds of music. The partnership between Dr. McCurdy and the USC graduate students and the Hermosa Beach School District is a very natural one. We have a very vibrant outreach program already at USC where we go out and we go to schools and have all kinds of programs for students of all different ages. So for us it’s just going to be a wonderful opportunity and a win-win not just the students at Hermosa Beach, but our students at USC beause they’re getting the chance to share their talents with other students.” The USC graduate students will apply, give a cameo performance, and talk about what they intend to do. They will also receive coaching. This will provide a great learning experience for the graduate students and ensure that the program is the highest quality for the elementary students.

Through these performances, the elementary students will get a true sense of what it takes to be a musician. The college students will speak to the elementary students about what it takes to be a musician, how often they practice, and the preparation that goes into becoming a musician, in addition to playing music. Hearing the music performed live will be a great experience for the students. Dr. McCurdy said, “I know as a young musician myself, I realized I wanted to play music myself when I listened to someone doing it live. I remember being in fifth grade and seeing for the first time, real-live musicians playing and there’s no substitution for that. So who knows, we may inspire the next Yo-Yo Ma, or the next Josh Groban, or the next Wynton Marsalis.”

This program will also help students in other subjects. Music is a natural partner to mathematics, can connect people with emotions, and can help students better understand history. Students will be hearing everything from classical to hip hop to jazz. The college students have been asked to tell the elementary students about the historical perspective of where the music comes from. They will share how the music evolved, where it came from, who the primary architects are of a particular genre they are demonstrating, who some of the major composers are, as well as what is happening in the world historically when the music was being created. This program will help the elementary students to have an experiential learning experience and connect cultural and historical thoughts by talking about the different genres, all in a kid-friendly vocabulary.

When asked what his favorite moment will be, Dr. McCurdy said, “My favorite moment is just visualizing what this will look like once it’s all done. So I’m envisioning us being inside the auditorium there at the school. I’m visualizing the kids walking in and seeing all these musicians on the stage and seeing the reaction they’re going to have as a result of what they’re seeing here.” This is sure to turn into an amazing program. “I’m so honored I was asked to be a part of this. We are going to do our very best to put together a program that we are proud of. That’s what I can promise you and all those who are involved in this.”

You can help this amazing program by coming to the ART310 event on September 25th. Tickets can be purchased here: Art310.org

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