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UCLA Magazine Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore
Outside the Ivory Tower
A beautiful Mind
The Long March
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Winter 2002
Outside the Ivory Tower
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When UCLA arrived at Bursch two-and-a-half years ago, the few instruments the school owned were gathering dust in a closet because there was no music teacher. Today, the program has grown from one UCLA instructor working in a single classroom to six UCLA teachers working with 120 students — more than one-in-five Bursch students. And with a grant received last year the school has purchased new trumpets, clarinets, saxophones, cellos and violins.

"Our kids are really hyped," says Bursch counselor Kim Thomas. "Each year, our teachers ask who wants to be in the band. Everyone wants to be."

The program opens the children's ears to musical genres beyond the rap that they mostly hear in their neighborhoods. While instruction revolves around classical forms, Ramirez is pleased that her clarinet teacher also taught her to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb." At year's end, Bursch's band plays a "Concert on the Green" — the "green" being a grassy patch of the schoolyard abutted by planes of asphalt. There's also a year-end concert at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall with students from all five Music Outreach sites.

Five alumni of the Washington Prep program have since become music majors at UCLA. And at Bursch, fifth-grader Omar Miller, who plays sax under the tutelage of doctoral student Alan Durst, has shown so much promise that he was given a solo last year for the Schoenberg concert.

"I would like to play jazz," Miller says. "I think jazz sounds kinda cool."

"These kids have no other opportunity to learn music," says Durst, coordinator of the program at Bursch. "You never know where the next innovator is going to come up from."

And the lessons in the classroom don't stop there. Says Ramirez, who brings her clarinet home to practice, "My younger brother hears it, and now he is starting to play, too."

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