Where can you find children singing and dancing with the Houston Symphony during summer vacation while developing literacy skills? Camp Adventure!
During the month of July, the Symphony was a part of this special program presented by the Children’s Museum of Houston and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Throughout each of the two-week camps at participating Houston ISD elementary schools—Houston ISD’s Foster Elementary, Atherton Elementary, and Lewis Elementary—our Community-Embedded Musicians provided daily, free music classes to campers, who will be in kindergarten through second grade this fall.
Through a unique curriculum of songs paired with books, campers developed musical skills such as pattern recognition, learning to hear the melody before singing it, and matching pitch and rhythm. Research shows that these activities stimulate the brain’s auditory pathway and that over time, learning music accelerates the development of areas of the brain responsible for language development, speech perception, and reading skills. Musical activities also included physical elements—exercising fine motor skills and crossing the midline section of their bodies—skills that aid children’s ability to write and read.
The Community-Embedded Musicians play their instruments throughout each session, which inspires the children in a unique way. For many of the children at the camp, this is the first time they have been exposed to an orchestral instrument. They are captivated by the beauty of music, which when incorporated into this unique curriculum, gives the children a positive association with reading.
“Campers didn’t even realize they were learning music and reading at the same time,” reported one of the camp classroom teachers. “This is one activity they never wanted to miss!”
The children read books that corresponded with the songs they learned. On the final day, they gather for a final concert with the musicians to perform all the songs learned throughout the camp. The campers leave with a memento: a songbook of “Hey Diddle Diddle,” one of their favorite songs from camp, to continue the love of music and reading at home.
The Houston Symphony is committed to supporting student academic achievement through music and addressing key communities needs like early childhood literacy. Camp Adventure! helps children develop a positive perception of reading by engaging in music activities. We hope that, as a result, they are also developing a lifelong love of both reading and music. —Emily Nelson
Top: Community-Embedded Musician Rainel Joubert, violin, leads a music session with students during Camp Adventure!
Support for the Community-Embedded Musicians comes from Spec’s Charitable Foundation, The Robert & Janice McNair Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Jay Steinfeld & Barbara Winthrop, and H-E-B.