The sounds of music filled the Peres Elementary School cafeteria Thursday for the school’s annual winter music concert.
Broken into two sections to accommodate the students and parents, this year’s concert titled “One Nation” featured a mix of holiday tunes and songs with positive messages.
Students played percussion instruments and sang along to favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” and even got the audience involved in a raucous version of “We Will Jingle” a holiday version of the Queen hit “We Will Rock You” complete with clapping and stomping.
Students at Peres get music once a week with music teacher Chris Winslow, who came to Peres five years ago through Education Through Music East Bay, an offshoot of the program that began in New York more than 20 years ago and brings music programs to underprivileged children in schools where they would not otherwise get it.
Education Through Music East Bay in now in four Richmond schools — Peres, Lincoln, Wilson and Coronado — and one school in Oakland, said Executive Director Dylan Tatz.
The program provides a general musical education for students, which includes singing, learning rhythms, reading music and playing some instruments such as recorders, percussion and ukuleles.
Winslow said he tries to work in conjunction with the teachers to incorporate what they’re teaching in the classroom into his music lessons.
For example, he said, second graders learn how to count money and so he wrote a song titled “Counting Coins” to help integrate the curriculum.
But more so than just helping kids learn, Winslow said his ultimate goal is for kids to feel comfortable expressing themselves musically and physically in front of their peers.
“We don’t teach that anywhere else really,” he said. “We don’t teach kids how to express themselves doing a math problem.”
Tatz said the program began as a response to the cutting of music and arts in the schools and strives to provide comprehensive musical education that complements the rest of the student’s learning.
“When we go into schools we see test scores improve,” he said.
Students at Peres will have another chance to show off their musical skills at the annual spring concert.