Las Vegas Sun

November 29, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Variety School strikes a chord

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My compliments to Paul Takahashi for an excellent article on the new Variety School. It reminded me that, as a school board member in the ’70s, I used to spend a lot of time at the Helen J. Stewart School for special needs students and gained enormous respect for special education teachers.

One event at that school remains unforgettable. I had asked Charles Vanda, the originator of the Charles Vanda Master Series at UNLV, if the Minneapolis Chamber Orchestra could rehearse at that school. He agreed and the next day the orchestra came. After the first few bars, one of the children came forward, stood behind the director, and began to imitate him with energetic arm movements. Soon another child joined him, then another, then another and before long the entire audience was directing the orchestra.

Interesting was the fact that a lot of children began to applaud each time before the coda as if they felt that the piece was about to end, indicating that they had a better sense of musical perception than we give those children credit for. Afterwards, Vanda and members of the orchestra told me that this was the best musical experience they ever had.

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