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Schnitzer Wonder Award will help district bolster its music education program

MONICA HAYES, OREGON SYMPHONY - Students in David Douglas School District receive music instruction as part of a robust music curriculum the district maintains. DDSD is the recipient of the 2020 Wonder Award for its excellence in music education.A commitment to supporting music education has earned David Douglas School District a $10,000 prize and the 2020 Schnitzer Wonder Award.

The east Portland school district has invested heavily in music curriculum, offering robust instruction to students, starting in elementary school.

"We haven't had any cuts at all. All of our elementary kids are able to get instruction from a certified music teacher in the school day," said Tom Muller, the district's music coordinator. Muller said elementary school students are bused to a middle school four times a week, where they receive music instruction.

In addition to easy access at school, under-served students in David Douglas can also access free private lessons through a studio-to-school initiative. The program is a partnership between DDSD and the Oregon Symphony, with help from a 2014 Oregon Community Foundation grant, that allows students to receive free lessons from a symphony member.

"David Douglas School District's efforts through their Studio-to-School initiative have provided incredible opportunities to thousands of students in east Portland," said Scott Showalter, President and CEO of the Oregon Symphony. "Not only has the district removed barriers to arts access by facilitating free private lessons, but their dedication has helped create a culture in the community that values artistic expression. Students will long benefit from the positive experiences they have shared while creating music with their classmates."

Each year since its launch in 2015, the Schnitzer Wonder Award has honored an individual or organization that "builds community through the next generation of artists and/or student musicians," according to a news release announcing the 2020 recipient. The $10,000 prize is intended to help further the work of the recipient.

The award was created by developer and philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer to honor his parents, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, and their commitment to charitable giving and furthering opportunity, creativity and the arts.

This spring, two free community concerts will see David Douglas high school orchestra students perform alongside the Oregon Symphony.

On Wednesday, March 18, a free performance is scheduled at David Douglas High School, with another free performance offered Sunday, April 19 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. During the April performance, two DDSD music teachers—Marlene Trigg and Mari Schay—are slated to accept the award on behalf of their district.

Interested in checking out a performance?

• Oregon Symphony annual community concert, April 19, 6-7 pm, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Tickets are free and will be available starting DATE by calling the Oregon Symphony ticket office at 503-228-1353

• Oregon Symphony performing a neighborhood concert with the David Douglas Orchestra at David Douglas High School gymnasium on March 18, 7-8 pm. No tickets needed. All are welcome.


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