Idyllwild Arts students mentor young San Jacinto string players

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On Sunday, March 5, the Echo youth orchestra from San Jacinto Elementary School will join Idyllwild Arts Academy mentors in a public concert. IAA string-instrument mentors have been working with some of the young players. They will jointly perform at a concert in Lowman Concert Hall on the Idyllwild Arts Academy campus.
Photo courtesy Anna Anchet

As part of the Idyllwild Arts Academy Art in Society Program, IAA musicians have been mentoring young San Jacinto string players for the last year. The culmination of their year-long mentoring experience takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 5, at Lowman Concert Hall on the IAA campus.

The Art in Society program is an extracurricular certificate program at the academy designed to inform and engage students about their responsibilities as artists to make positive contributions to society. Students who participate must actively design and/or engage in a project that takes them off campus and into the community to volunteer and share their skills with others.

Local musician and teacher Anna Ancheta, director of the Musica!, El Sistema USA program that provides subsidized string instruction to young string players in the Hemet/San Jacinto area, said eight to 10 children in her program have been having half-hour private lessons with the IAA mentors. IAA students come down one or two times a month to teach, depending on academy transportation availability. They are violinists, violists, cellists and bassists.

“Heather Netz [IAA faculty] and I have been mentoring the IAA students on how to teach,” said Ancheta. “Teaching is a separate skill set. Most of these [IAA] students have studied as players in traditional fashion for years but have never taught. They’re discovering it’s fun to teach and that they like the relationships they are developing with the children they are mentoring.”

Part of the Art in Society agenda is to coach young artists in how to present themselves to the public — how to speak in public, speak about their craft and explain who they are as artists. This same information is being passed on to the Musica! players — how to talk to each other, ask questions of teachers, address audiences and, importantly, make mistakes and learn from them.

Called “Side by Side,” the concert will feature IAA musicians side-by-side with their young students, in back-and-forth musical exchanges. “IAA got a grant to provide a bus for us to bring our 25 student Echo Orchestra and their parents up to Idyllwild for the concert,” said Ancheta. “We’ll be bringing about 50 to 60 people. We’re very excited to showcase our students and to have this ‘side by side’ opportunity.”

The concert is open to the public and free.

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