Music program helping improve learning for Danville preschoolers

Program's inaugural class graduated Thursday

DANVILLE, Va. – Around 100 preschoolers graduated from Danville's head start program Thursday and now have a Head Start on the rest of their education thanks to the new program they participated in called Growing Up Musically.

"Last year, we began a partnership with Averett University (for GUM), Growing Up Musically program, that enriched our students' musical knowledge and experience," said Head Start education director Jion Word.

Part of that enrichment includes incorporating music in different subjects.

"I have seen a great impact on their learning through music. They use music now to learn letters," Word said.

The program is funded by a donation from local residents Ben and Betty Davenport.

The donation pays for Averett assistant music professor Dr. Janet Phillips to work with students in the Head Start program using a curriculum developed from programming from Averett's music department.

"There's more and more research showing that music helps us learn, retain, even grow our brains," Phillips explained.

Averett education majors also work with the students and help teach other educators how to implement the program.

"Some other early childhood and music people and I got together and wrote the curriculum. So, we built this curriculum ourselves," said Phillips.

"We didn't get it from anywhere else. We try to use simple, public domain-type of folk songs and children's songs that can be adapted for different uses."

Word's hope is that developing an appreciation for music now will encourage the students to explore new opportunities and encourage them to use music to help cope with issues in their lives as they get older.