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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — More grade school students will be able to take part in Auburn University’s music and foreign language programs this month.

The Auburn University Music Project offers instruction in orchestral string instruments for children in grades 3-5, the Opelika-Auburn News reported . However, the program will expand for the spring semester to include beginner lessons for brass, percussion and wind instruments for fifth- and sixth-graders.

AUMP, which launched in 2015, is a part of the school’s music and foreign language classes.

“There aren’t many public school string programs in Alabama,” said Guy Harrison, assistant professor of the music project. “And we want to give our students as much teaching experience as possible prior to moving out to their internships.”

The program provides children with the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and Auburn University music students with teaching experience. Four undergraduate students teach in the program right now.

“They meet with me on a regular basis, and we discuss together each student, how they’re doing and how they can improve,” said Harrison, who does most of the string instruction himself. “It’s as hands-on for them as we can make the time for.”

The classes follow the university’s academic calendar and meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, within a 12-week semester. Tuition and rental fees per semester are in the $100-$150 range.

Tanja Redd, coordinator for Auburn’s Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement, said there are benefits to learning a second language at a young age.

“Children are sponges. They’re clean slates,” she said. “The earlier they start learning languages, the better. I wish they would start studying multiple languages at the kindergarten level. As they are learning to count one, two, three, they could just as easily learn to count uno, dos, tres.”

The Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement partners with Synchro International Education to teach local students Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and English as a second language.

Language classes are scheduled once a week from Jan. 10 through April 27 and are open to all public, private and home-schooled students from kindergarten through ninth grade in the Lee County area. The total cost of language classes, including registration and curriculum fees, ranges from $120 to $145, depending on the class.

The program’s objective is to prepare students for careers in the global market by developing their language skills and cultural awareness, according to a press release from the university.

“We have a large international presence here, with all the Korean and German companies we have in the area. Plus, as a college town, we have a lot of diversity,” Redd explained. “It’s really important that our home-grown Auburn folks send their kids to a class of kids from other cultures. When you have an average American fifth-grader sitting in Spanish class with a Chinese fifth-grader who is also learning Spanish, you get a great blend of cultures.”


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News,