Colorado Symphony Brings Spanish Language Music Program to Denver Area Preschools
Canta y Baila Conmigo expands CSA’s community and educational outreach through enhanced early childhood education
By Nick Dobreff
Music has the power to bring people together, inspire, and unite the human spirit. The Colorado Symphony Association (CSA) believes that symphonic music must be available to everyone and that communities thrive when music is accessible to all. Because of that, the Colorado Symphony has committed to creating experiences where all people and communities feel welcome, represented, and connected.
As part of this mission, the Colorado Symphony announced in January an exciting new addition to its educational programing in partnership with Canta y Baila Conmigo® (CyBC) — a Spanish language and culture program with dual, complementary goals of music development and Spanish language acquisition. CyBC is both a music class in Spanish and a family language immersion experience, introducing the Spanish language through the musical traditions of children songs from across Latin American countries.
The CSA’s Education department was awarded a Bowen Family Performing Arts Fund grant to pilot the CyBC program in 10 bilingual classrooms within the Adams 14 School District. The district has over 45% emerging bilingual learners and has bilingual programming in their Early Childhood Education (ECE) classrooms, but there is a limited number of bilingual musical programs in the state that cultivate music in the classroom and with families. In partnership with the district’s Early Childhood Education department, the CSA provided a 12-week remote learning music program that served over 150 students and their families.
“It’s important that we value their first language as Spanish and that we encourage our children so they can grow up appreciating their language and culture and they can learn that being bilingual is beneficial,” said Norma Noriega, Teacher at Hanson Elementary.
“We live in an area where Spanish is the primary language, so to have those songs and to bring in more culture to the classroom is something we all enjoyed and was super beneficial to our students,” said Sandra Elias, Teacher at STARS Early Learning Center.
This program provides ECE students and their families the opportunity to explore music in a culturally relevant way through a curriculum of classroom activities, family workbooks, and an online playground with video and audio resources provided by CyBC.
“Music is everywhere, I mean you could incorporate music in math, you could incorporate music in science; it’s very adaptable to any topic so I think that is why it brings such a great value to have it as part of a classroom setting,” added Noriega.
“This sharing and taking turns teaches emotional, social development, friendship, respect, and community values because music is about doing something together,” said Maddie Welch, Founder of Canta y Baila Conmigo.
The partnership also built a greater connection with the Adams 14 community with the CSA providing all 350 ECE students in the district with access to the Petite Musique: Three Little Pigs bilingual virtual concert and storybook.
“Despite the pandemic and its impact on remote learning, the Colorado Symphony was excited to partner with Adams 14 to offer Canta y Baila Conmigo, our new culturally relevant music program for preschoolers and their families,” said Jesse Martinez, Director of Community Education. “This was only possible through the generous support of the Bowen Family Performing Arts Fund."
“Our Dual Language classrooms thoroughly looked forward to the time they got to participate in the weekly Canta y Baila Conmigo program with Maddie Welch and her team,” said Luciana Stokley, Principal, Adams 14 Preschool Program. “Students and teachers would sing and dance to the music while some parents commented about being happy to hear songs they had not heard since they were children. Likewise, all of our preschool classes were thrilled to watch the Colorado Symphony’s Petite Musique virtual concert about the story of the Three Little Pigs. We planned a Watch Party Day where all of our preschool classrooms across the district scheduled time to watch the concert and then retell the story with the accompanying music and activity book.”
To further ensure a long-term impact, the CSA has partnered with CyBC to curate an in-school community concert that creates an engaging experience for ECE students. The concert features Latin American songs pulled from the CyBC curriculum and songbook performed by a CSA six-piece ensemble which introduces instruments to students at a critical age for musical development.
“The Colorado Symphony is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusivity and we were thrilled to share the joy of music with students in Adams 14 and partner to provide music programming that reflects the diversity of the community, added Martinez.”
This new and culturally relevant ECE concert is an introduction to the CyBC in-school program for the community and a great season finale concert for classrooms who are a part of the program during the school semester.
The CSA believes in the dignity of all and respects a diversity of cultures, identities, orientations, heritages, beliefs, and experiences. We believe we can bring our community together to create greater social understanding through live symphonic music and look forward to continuing our partnership with Adams 14, fostering the love of music in students, and ensuring a bright and equitable future for live symphonic music.