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Teacher keeps the beat

Three years after funding dries up, Canyon Country man drums on

Posted: December 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Musa Rahman, Adam Almanzan and Zachariah Garabet try out drums during a music class at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School in Canyon Country on Monday.

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When Dennis Poore, of Canyon Country, received his pink slip from Sulphur Springs Elementary School District as the school’s primary grade music teacher, it didn’t stop him from continuing to offer music education to students at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School in Canyon Country.

Poore, a professional composer, had taught music education since 2007 at Fair Oaks Ranch until budget cuts forced his layoff in 2009.

Still, Poore donates 30 minutes of his time on Monday afternoons to provide music education to students at the school. Each Monday, two classes of first-graders gather in the music room, backstage of the school’s multipurpose room, to experience hands-on music learning.

The following Monday will see another two classes experience the same music class.

Nearly 80 students benefit from Poore’s donation of his time.

“I really enjoy teaching primary music,” Poore said. “I like that age group. They’re open to new things and new ideas. They’re not at the age where they’re embarrassed to sing in front of everybody or doing silly things with music.”

In addition to the music basics — notes and beats — Poore teaches the students music appreciation.

“One class might be Australian music and I’ll bring in a didgeridoo,” he said. “Then I’ll teach them an Australian song. The following week I might teach about African music and I’ll bring in African instruments. I might follow that up the next week with the history of rock ‘n’ roll and plug in an electric guitar.”

Poore said it is important to let the students play instruments.

“That’s my philosophy,” he said. “Let them play it. Let them feel what it’s like to play an instrument whether they can play it or not.”

Poore said he’s found that giving children hands-on experience with instruments allows them to find their “inner musician.”

“Sometimes a child will sit down at a piano or a guitar for the first time and not know what’s happening, but likes it,” he said. “Next thing I know, a parent will be telling me that the child is taking piano or guitar lessons.”

A recent class in drumming allowed Poore to teach students the basics of rhythm.

First grader Taylor Treahy, 6, said the best part of “drum day” was “drumming loud.”

“It was fun,” Taylor said.

First-grade teacher Cathy Canino said music education is important for students.

“Music helps develop the brain for math,” she said. “There’s a scientific connection between learning music and doing better in math.”

Canino said her students look forward to the class.

“Every week they ask, ‘Is it music week?’” she said.

Madison Weatherman, 6, said her favorite drums were the bongos.

“I like the way they sound. I like the high notes and the low notes,” she said.

Alan Reinstein, assistant principal of Fair Oaks Ranch Community School, said it is volunteers like Poore who enrich the school’s environment.

“It’s so important we continue to provide music education in the school, to provide that fine arts experience for our students,” Reinstein said. “When we have talented people that can do that we’re very fortunate.”

mbuttelman@signalscv.com

661-287-5590

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