Fletcher & Washington Schools Receive a Dose of Swiss Music and Culture


Fletcher Elementary School third graders recently had the unique opportunity to learn more about Swiss culture through music. JOURNEYS, a Swiss band, visited the students to conduct music workshops in their classrooms.

“We are here to not only bring music to Fletcher School but to also teach students more about our culture. They might know about Swiss chocolate or our mountains but we also want them to know that we speak four different languages, and, that music is a universal language,” said JOURNEYS band member Robert Mark.

JOURNEYS visited Fletcher, and also, Washington Middle School, courtesy of Infinity Visual and Performing Arts through BOCES CoSer funding. Executive Director, Shane Hawkins, asked Fletcher Elementary School teacher Rudi Andalora if there was a way to help enrich the Common Core experience. Since the third graders were learning about sound, Ms. Hawkins suggested a visit from JOURNEYS who were passing through Jamestown on their concert schedule.

“We thought this would be a great experience for the students and would go along with our year of introducing kids to the world through arts, music, dance and theater,” said Ms. Hawkins.

The students participated in three workshops with the band: rhythm with drums, melody with piano, and a lesson in Swiss language. JOURNEYS also performed two concerts at Washington Middle School through music teacher Mark Alpaugh. The teachers were very pleased with the visit and hope to plan more events in collaboration with Infinity to help enhance student learning.

“It is so important to have rich experiences for students especially with such a rigorous curriculum,” said Mr. Andalora. “Not every student absorbs information the same, so for most students coming up through Common Core, these experiences will count immensely. Even though we read about it, study it, view it in digital form, research it and calculate it, nothing beats a real-life in person experience. Also, we may have a future jazz instrument player who is interested in performing in a professional band. These experiences help students envision their dreams. If students learn how throw it out to the universe in their dreams, more than likely it’ll come back to them. They need the opportunity to dream big.”

JOURNEYS is the project of five experienced top musicians from Zurich, Switzerland, who have been on the scene for the last thirty years. Former guitarist Dennis Roshard, who played with Grammy Award Winner Andreas Vollenweider, 
wrote most of the compositions. The present guitar player, Ueli Gasser, is one of the leading guitarists/composers on the Swiss scene. Musical Director / Pianist Angelo Signore, whose outstanding playing enriches this group, contributes his outstanding compositions. Philippe Mall is one of the truly brilliant sax players and composers on the scene today. Luciano Maranta grounds the music with his solid bass 
playing, while Drummer Robert Mark and Percussionist Willy Kotoun drive the band with their fiery rhythms.

posted on 05/29/2014 - filed under: Academics, Community, Elementary School, Music, Spotlight, Staff, Students, teachers