Education Matters: Popular band program developing students’ passion for music at Lemoore middle school

Education Matters

LEMOORE, Calif. (KSEE) – There is nothing like the sound of a marching band, and the one at Liberty Middle School in Lemoore attracts a lot of students.

So, when the program had to shut down because of the pandemic, band teachers looking for ways to keep their students engaged were handed an idea from the band director Chris Morshead, otherwise known as Mr. Mo.

“It was actually Chris Morshead and his daughter.  They had learned ukulele while we were on stay at home orders and he had thought, it’s like, ‘hey, why don’t we take some ukuleles and teach it to the kids?’ so the district bought us about 90,95 and we started teaching in November 2020,” explained band teacher Marcus Zellous.

The class taught by Zellous was originally for band students, but it was so popular that the school administration offered it to all students.

So, what is it about strumming these cords that students like?

“It makes me feel really happy,” explained student Tiffany Walker. “Like, in case I’m sad, I’ll just like play and it will make me feel happier because the sound, like sounds really great.”

12-year-old Diego joined the class because he says he wants to learn.

“What I really like about this class is we get to learn a whole bunch of stuff about the ukulele,” said Diego. “And I hope I can sooner or later figure out the songs and start writing.”

Mr. Mo says it’s the simplicity of these instruments that attracts a lot of the kids, youngsters who didn’t quite fit in band.

“And they’re looking for an outlet looking for a way to express their creativity, express their emotion.  They come in here and say I will give it a try,” said Mr. Mo.

“And all of a sudden you just strum that first cord that only requires one finger to do and like I said the simplicity about it, I think really captivates them and they’re like I could do that.

But more than anything, these kids say strumming the ukulele brings them joy.

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