A Judson ISD music teacher is introducing students to a new sound and instrument- the marimba!
Park Village Blended Learning Academy students have been learning how to play the marimba, thanks to music teacher Charles Ford. “It’s a Zimbabwean-style instrument. We build them here in America, but it really has roots from Africa and Zimbabwe,” Ford said.
Students are also growing their leadership skills and confidence. “I love that unity factor. The way it brings them together. It’s like teamwork, and that’s what makes it special,” Ford said.
The musical ensemble is composed of different sizes of marimbas and different types—altos, sopranos, bass and tenors—playing together to the timing of a drum set. The result is lively and engaging music that makes the listener want to move their feet.
Ford recently received his second grant to continue teaching the instrument. Zimbabwean marimbas are expensive at $2,500 each and take six to eight months to manufacture by hand. Before the grant came through Ford said he was constantly fundraising, selling to parents and door-to-door. “Those grants mean a lot to not only me, but to the students, to their parents, because we get the instruments here so much quickly,” Ford said.
Students are learning a variety of songs and are excited to perform at community events. “Working with young elementary students, when they see these large instruments or they just get excited and get ready to be engaged,” Ford said.
The ensemble has performed in many places around the community including downtown San Antonio at the Rock and Roll Marathon, at local high schools and shopping malls.
Admittance into Mr. Ford’s ensemble begins as young as pre-kindergarteners. And while learning to play music, they’re also putting letter recognition into use. It’s important that everyone who wants to play, gets to play.
Blog By: Aimet Luna, The University of Texas at Austin