It's a great way to keep them in the school system through high school."
According to JR Jowkalsky, a reading teacher at Willie L. Brown Jr. elementary school in the Bayview, the number of students who pursue orchestra or band in middle school has "mushroomed" as a result of the AIM Program.
Keith Jones, who has been teaching for 20 years and currently runs the 40-piece band at Willie L. Brown, reports that about one-sixth of the potential band students participate in the music program. Anything over 10 or 15 percent participation is considered good.
"AIM has given me 10 violins, symphony tickets for the kids, concerts here at school," he said. "It provides things that I could never provide to my students."
While the AIM program alone cannot revive public-school music education in an era of restricted funding, it's not a far stretch to say that exposing every single public school student by the end of fifth grade to five symphony visits and 20 ensemble performances must help pick up the slack.
Now, if only there was something AIM could do to preserve the sense of wonder and complete abandon with which these kids enjoyed the symphony for the first time, conducting wildly from their seats like no one is watching.
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