To put it simply the Tecumseh Schools Orchestra Program began as an answer to a dream. Herself a violinist and violin teacher, one of Elizabeth’s fondest dreams was that Tecumseh would include a string program in the public school system. To that end the Foundation has worked closely with the schools and a committee of dedicated community members to provide the opportunity for students to be enriched by string playing. Research continues to support this dream, showing the benefits to academic progress, brain development and ability to work as a team that instrumental music provides to children. The initiative really took off in 2003 when Mr. Bob Phillips, renowned string educator and composer, agreed to start up Tecumseh’s program following his retirement after 27 years in Saline Schools. Because there was no way to add the string class into the already packed school day, forty 4th grade students agreed to meet every morning before their school day began for a 45-minute class. Under Mr. Phillips instruction those forty students exceeded the initial expectations of the foundation.
The string program was an astounding success. In its second year the program expanded to include 95 4th grade students in the beginning string class – more than double the first year’s class – and 36 returning 5th grade students. The second year also brought about the hiring of Mrs. Amy (Feldkamp) Marr as Mr. Phillips retired-for the second time. Now the program is run by Mrs. Marr and is thriving under her instruction. The 2012 – 2013 school year has over 350 students enrolled. The program is proud to have three former students currently pursuing careers in music!
The Foundation’s (and Elizabeth’s) dream is to see the string program grow into a comprehensive program which follows students from 5th through 12th grade.