Lunch performance pleasant surprise

By Penny Bailey: Clovis Municipal Schools

Don’t you just love ‘nice’ surprises? I know I do.

The other day, I was visiting a friend in the hospital and decided to have lunch in the cafeteria. Shortly after we sat down, a group of young people entered the lunchroom with musical instruments. Of course, as they filed in the room, most of the conversation stopped and all eyes were on them. However, they didn’t seem to notice as they took the instruments out of their cases, set-up their music stands, and quickly tuned their instruments.

What followed was a nice luncheon made better as they began to serenade us with their stringed instruments. I enjoyed this special treat at lunch and it certainly improved my day. And, as I looked around the room it was obvious that everyone else was enjoying this nice surprise, also.

Being a curious person, I had to find out where these wonderful young people were from and why they were there. I noticed one lady standing in the back of the room. She was beaming with joy. I knew right away that was their teacher.

I discovered they are students from our Arts Academy at Bella Vista, and their teacher is Eileen MacNaughton. She has played violin for 38 years and has taught our students in Clovis Municipal Schools for several years.

Even though she teaches our students how to play stringed instruments, she is also contributing to their overall intellect. I learned that a recent Harvard-based study shows there is a significant association between music training and reading skills. Students who studied strings or piano at a young age for at least three years score higher in English, and some score higher in math as well.

I also learned the students at Bella Vista aren’t only being taught how to play instruments, but also how to care for others as they learned about a blind violinist from Haiti, Romel Joseph. He was rescued from the ruins of his school 18 hours after the earthquake, but his pregnant wife was not as fortunate. Yet, Romel said he needs to rebuild his school and continue to teach children the beauty of music.

So, the beautiful young musicians I was listening to in the lunchroom, along with their Bella Vista classmates, are pooling their resources to help Joseph Romel rebuild his school.

It was truly a nice surprise being serenaded by our students during lunch. But, I also learned about musical research studies, and how our kids are helping others in Haiti. I’m so glad I decided to have lunch in the hospital cafeteria the other day.