Part of the mission of the UNT College of Music is to affirm the fundamental value of music in educational settings and in society at large, going beyond advocacy to enhance the musical life of the community, the Metroplex, and the region. Learn more about some of the ways we are accomplishing this goal:
- Workshops, Camps and Masterclasses
- Early Childhood Music Program
- Start Up the Band
- String Project
- Denton New Horizons Band
- Hire a Musician for Musical Services or Lessons
Denton, Texas is a city that lives and breathes music. Stay here a few days and you’ll see that it’s a community-wide phenomenon. Every other person you meet is a musician, and those that aren’t have a love and respect for music that borders on obsession.
– Making Music Magazine, 2013
Early Childhood Music
The UNT Early Childhood Music Program provides quality musical experiences for Denton’s youngest citizens, engaging infants and children in a variety of music activities that explore singing, listening and movement. The program also provides additional teaching experiences for music education students. Since associate dean Warren Henry started the program in 1996, the program has served more than 1,000 families in Denton and surrounding communities.
Research has shown that the early childhood years are critical for language development — and the language of music is no exception. Music is learned in much the same way that language is learned. Just as children learn to speak from being in a rich, language-filled environment, children become musical through exposure to a rich, music-filled environment. Like language acquisition, musical development occurs sequentially, moving through stages of listening, vocal exploration, and music babble, which eventually lead to beat competency and accurate singing.
The program is designed to create a rich musical environment for children. Some children will be active participants, while others will prefer to watch and absorb. Classes differ according to the age levels and readiness of the children, but all classes include songs, chants, movement and instrument exploration.
The award-winning UNT String Project provides a fun, mutually beneficial learning experience for students in grades 2-9 and UNT music education majors.
Each year, about 125 children learn to play violin, viola, cello and double bass in group classes. In addition to music, students learn self-discipline, group cooperation, problem-solving skills, goal setting, self-expression, memory skills, concentration, poise, enhanced physical coordination, high self-esteem, and the importance of teamwork.
The program also serves as a teacher training program for UNT undergraduate string education majors, who are mentored by and work under the supervision of a master teacher. Musical instruction has a chamber music focus, giving the UNT students valuable experience teaching mixed-instrument classes.
The program has a close relationship with the Denton Independent School District; more than half of the orchestra directors in Denton ISD are themselves UNT music graduates who taught in the String Project. In fact, veterans of the String Project fill the music faculties of public schools across Texas.
I travel all over the state to give master classes, and north to south, east to west, every district that I’ve seen has 2 to 4 UNT graduates teaching strings. We have a near 100% job placement rate for music education students who finish their student teaching.”
- Karrell Johnson, founder of UNT String Project
Start Up the Band
For some Denton families, the financial challenges of involving a child in band—renting a musical instrument, purchasing music and supplies, and paying a private teacher—are insurmountable. The College of Music is working to even the playing field by helping low-income students get a successful start in music through the Start Up the Band program.
Led by music education professor Darhyl Ramsey, Start Up the Band is a one-year program designed to provide band instruments and musical instruction for children with financial needs in the Denton Independent School District.
The program begins in the fifth grade and is designed to give the participants a head start in learning how to play a band instrument. Students who qualify are provided with an instrument and instruction on a weekly basis at no cost for one year prior to entering a middle school band program.
Instruction for the students is provided by UNT students. Graduate students are the primary teachers and undergraduate students are the assistants. This provides an opportunity for the UNT students to gain valuable experience in teaching prior to their student teaching semester in music education.
Numerous UNT music education students work with Start Up the Band, from graduate students who receive funding to design curriculum and mentor less-experienced teachers, to music education undergraduates who volunteer their time to teach. These teachers-in-training provide small group lessons and large ensemble experiences to help the fifth-graders get a head start on learning an instrument.
The kids gained confidence in themselves as they progressed, which was really exciting to see.
- Audriana Garcia, music education student
New Horizons Band
Denton citizens of all ages love music, so it’s not surprising that the community has embraced the New Horizons Band program.
Every semester, music education students from the University of North Texas teach small group or large ensemble sectionals with the band in a mutually beneficial partnership.
The 65 members of the Denton New Horizons Band range in age from 40 to 92, and are divided into two groups: one for beginners, and one for more experienced players. Members come from all walks of life, are both working and retired, and play the entire range of instruments one finds in a traditional concert wind ensemble.
The Denton New Horizons Band’s free concerts draw crowds of 75 to 200 for each performance. It plays regularly for the Denton community at events such as the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, and has even performed at the Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio. Any given year might find the band playing at a local soup kitchen, accompanying a high school choir, or fund raising for local charity organizations.