“G G G A” — dozens of children sang Wednesday afternoon while plucking along on violins held to their jaws. They were practicing “Au clair de la lune” in their strings class at Woodward Elementary School.
Their teacher, Abigail Wimbiscus, clapped and sang along with them as they made their way through the first few measures of the piece.
“That was good!” Wimbiscus tells them before getting the students ready to try again. “But it wasn’t quite perfect. But that’s the thing about music — you can always improve,”
Strings is a regular class at the elementaries across Delaware City Schools and has been since the orchestra program began in the 1970s, school officials said.
Wimbiscus said students give up their “Pacer period,” a study hall in the middle of the day, to attend strings class two days a week.
Wimbiscus said that before the start of the school year, a concert was put on by Delaware Hayes High School music graduates and, afterwards, fourth-grade students were given the chance to express interest in enrolling in the strings classes across the district.
The students rent their instruments and are responsible for practicing with and taking care of them.
Wimbiscus is a new face at the district this year, having just been hired by the district over the summer to teach fifth- and sixth-grade strings at Willis Intermediate School. She also teaches all the fourth-grade strings classes at the elementary schools throughout the week.
“It’s a legendary program,” Wimbiscus said. “There are wonderful things happening in Delaware. I believe students who learn strings in addition to traditional music classes gain discipline in their ability to practice and improve, collaboration and cooperation in putting together songs and pieces as a class, and joy in developing new skills.”
One of the students in the class, Anna Lippincott, a cellist, said she heard kids talking about how great that class was on the bus last year and had to learn more. Lippincott said she really enjoys the class and will continue to play after the class ends at the end of the school year.
Likewise, violinist Ava Prenger said the class has been eye opening for her.
“I’ve learned how much work it takes to actually play music,” Prenger said. “They make it look so easy!”
Wimbiscus said the Woodward students will perform for the public twice this school year, on Feb 17 and May 16, along with students from across the district.