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The Power Of Paper

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

For the past three months, our kindergarten musicians have been on a journey to become a real string orchestra. They have explored fundamental music concepts, developed their vocal and language skills, refined gross-motor techniques required to hold their instrument and bow, and gained formative social-emotional skills needed to perform alongside their peers in a full orchestra—all the while, playing a paper instrument.

On Friday, January 24th, our entire BMP community celebrated the accomplishments of our kindergarten musicians. They walked proudly across the stage to receive their certificate of completion of our Paper Orchestra program and their real string instrument. The celebration continued with a final Paper Orchestra performance and instrument petting zoo at the Boston Children's Museum on Sunday, January 26th.

The Impact a Paper Instrument Can Have

For the past nine years, our Paper Orchestra program has provided young children at our Boston Public School site at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School with the foundation for music success and social-emotional growth. However, what is equally impactful is the way this program brings together our orchestra community, BPS teachers, and City of Boston representatives as our kindergarten musicians begin their musical journey with BMP.

We took a moment to hear from one of our newest families, Briella and her mother Deanna, about the impact that BMP and the Paper Orchestra program has had on them.

What has the experience been like for you and Briella in BMP?

"Josiah Quincy truly embraces all facets of a well-rounded education. I was thrilled for Briella to have the opportunity to play an instrument at such a young age. She has always loved art and performance. I really enjoy the concerts and how they showcase the different skill levels of students in the program. I look forward to Briella learning more and becoming a better musician."

How has being a musician of BMP impacted you, family, and her?

"Playing an instrument has made Briella even more confident, patient, and gentle. Her family is very proud of her and looks forward to attending upcoming concerts. On her first day, Briella felt nervous and shy. Now she is so excited to get to practice every morning."

What does she love most about the bass? "Briella loves how big her bass is. People often ask why she chose such a big instrument and she says, 'I'm strong enough to play a big instrument.' Briella wants to play her bass every single day. Briella is really excited about performing in more concerts with her real bass."

What has been a highlight for both of you so far?

"The highlight so far this year for Briella has been getting her real bass. She has been asking about it ever since she started practicing on her paper bass. I am so grateful for this wonderful program. Thank you and all the teachers so much for everything you do for our children."

Not Just Any Paper Instrument

Our Paper Orchestra program has continued to grow over these past nine years. Each year, our team works to build upon the paper instrument tradition from Venezuela's El Sistema program. In many parts of Venezuela, resources to acquire real instruments are limited. As a way to keep young children engaged in the music community of their local nucelo, or community center, they make paper instruments to begin learning basic musicianship skills until a real instrument becomes available. At BMP, we have carried this tradition and each year introduce new design elements, organize fun community performances, and make way for more opportunities for our families and community members to take part in this semester-long experience.

This year, our BMP Mozart team and executive director worked with middle school students and staff from the Beaver Country Day School to build upon last year's laser-cut cardboard instruments. Beaver students met three times per week with Beaver design coaches Amelia Walske and Nate Guevin to create paper instrument kits, delivered them to BMP, and helped our students and families in the assembly of the paper instruments.

Special thanks to our sponsors for our early-childhood programming and instrument provider:

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