Kyrene after-school program aims to nurture a lifelong appreciation

Story by Diana Whittle

A new musical experience for1
fourth and fifth graders in the
Kyrene School District begins
this month on a high note, with 85
students enrolling in the after-school
Students agreed to attend practice
once a week at Kyrene de la Estrella
Elementary, with a live performance
scheduled this spring at a planned alldistrict
arts and music festival.
Dr. Jessica van Oostrom and Dr.
Tom van Oostrom are co-directors of
the new Kyrene Elementary Band and
Orchestra, and they hope to nurture
a growing appreciation for musical
performance, which they’d like to see
continue not only in students’ middleand
high-school years but throughout
their lives.
Jessica van Oostrom played
percussion in high school and majored
in music in college where she met her
husband, Tom, who earned degrees in
music composition. The couple, both
of whom teach in the Kyrene district,
discovered their passion for music in
childhood and continue to enjoy live
As a result, they created this
program for fourth and fifth graders,
believing children are developmentally
ready at these ages.
“We feel that the students are
at the right stage to learn a band or
orchestra instrument and to read
standard music notation,” said Jessica.
Fortunately, the Kyrene district
continues to offer “specials” in its daily
curriculum, one of which is music
class. Before renting or buying their
instrument, students were invited to
an instrument “petting zoo” to try out
their choices.
Wesley Enevoldsen, a fourth
grader at Kyrene de la Mirada
Elementary in west Chandler, brought
home a flier about the musical open
house and asked his mother if he
could participate. She says he loves
his weekly music class, and she felt
the new program sounded like a good
extra-curricular activity.
After reviewing the options of
instruments available, much to his
mother’s surprise, Wesley selected the
cello instead of the drums.
“He said he thought drums would
make too much noise,” said Laura
Enevoldsen, “and so far, he seems
happy with his choice. He is excited to
go to the practice sessions.”
Zoi Delgado, a fourth grader
at Kyrene de las Brisas, also in west
Chandler, developed an interest in the
flute at an early age, says her mother,
Jodi Richardson-Delgado, a music
“I believe that music is extremely
important, so I am delighted that the
district decided to offer the band and
orchestra program,” said Richardson-
“Music is around our home all the
time, and we have a flute in our family
that Zoi is able to use. She loves the
instrument and even practices without
me having to remind her.”
During the school day by coming
to music class each week, kids already
have learned the value and enjoyment
of music, says Jessica.
“Through the band and orchestra
program, we are taking their classroom
experience a step further by allowing
them to try out a new instrument and
giving them additional performance
opportunities, which are exciting and
The band and orchestra program
is open to fourth and fifth graders
enrolled in any of the 19 elementary
schools in the Kyrene district.
For more information, call the
Kyrene District Community Education
Office at 480-541-1500.