Proposed music park will strike new chord with kids at Paloma

Tutu, the mascot for Chandler’s annual Ostrich Festival, paid a visit to students at Kyrene de la Paloma where he helped draw attention to fundraising for Harmony Park. – Photo courtesy Kyrene School District

The proposed Harmony Park, at Kyrene de la Paloma in Chandler, will sound to music lovers like an experience that is an equal mix between being in heaven and Disneyland.

Once constructed, the outdoor playground will provide children with a learning environment to explore making sounds—aka music—with free-standing sculptures shaped with the look and capability of selected musical instruments.

“Paloma’s Harmony Park will provide an outdoor learning environment that encourages children to explore sound in a spontaneous way, while providing balance to more formal, classroom music instruction,” said Paloma’s Principal Janet Tobias.

These innovatively designed instruments are built by a Colorado-based company and are constructed to be as durable as any outdoor playground equipment. A growing body of research confirms that experiencing music in nature positively engages the brain, builds social cohesion, and creates the conditions to build harmonious communities.

Music isn’t just an enjoyable activity; research also shows how music can have a positive effect on learning, memory, and our ability to experience pleasure.

Tobias says that she has long dreamed of adding an outdoor park to the school’s art integration program to inspire in students a love of music.

“We know that music helps children build reasoning skills, increases memory capacity and supports students in developing cooperation skills,” said Tobias.

“It also builds confidence and fuels creativity in students, meeting the increasing social-emotion needs of the children we serve.”

To fund the construction of Harmony Park, the school is hosting a golf tournament as a fundraiser on Saturday, May 4 at the Arizona Grande Resort and Spa. For more information and to register, visit: www.harmonyparkgolf.com

“We hope to raise more than $10,000 at our Harmony Park Golf Tournament, which will almost pay for our first installment of a four-instrument ensemble.  Also, we are selling personalized bricks for $100, which will be installed into the musical instrument park as another way to fundraise,” said Tobias.

“We know we will have to work hard for several years to raise the money needed to have a 10- piece musical instrument park, but we are up for the challenge because we know it is good for children.  We eventually want to install a large, shade structure over the park so that students can experience the magic all year long.”

The arts integration approach to teaching began at Paloma in the 2015-16 school year and continues to expand.

“Inspiring academic excellence through arts integration is not only our tag line, it’s our professional commitment to the students and community we serve” said Tobias.

“We use visual art and drama as a pathway to learning and a strategy to fully engage our students in content.”

Arts integration differs from a traditional classroom setting because teachers may use improvisational drama or analyzing famous works of art to inspire students and to increase knowledge in social studies or any other subject.

“We know that arts integration is positively affecting student achievement, which is the evidence we use to show its success at Paloma. We also know that students have to think critically and communicate clearly in life and integrating art is the link to do just that,” said Tobias.

Currently, Paloma serves 500 students between the pre-school age to the fifth grade.  Tobias says that Paloma’s staff participates in ongoing training from the Kennedy Center for the Arts where they learn specific instructional strategies to integrate drama into the curriculum.

“We are proud partners with Childsplay, a local professional theatre company whose chosen audience is children.  This year Paloma secured a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, to bring Childsplay artists into the classroom to plan and teach alongside our teachers,” said Tobias.

“I know that these strategies would have supported me as a young learner and kept me engaged in content much more than the traditional school setting I was a part of,”said Tobias.

“Paloma is set up to support students to be problem solvers and the critical thinkers we need in the 21st century!”

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