Campbell teacher uses $5,000 grant to create music program

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By Graig Graziosi


Holding horns that were nearly as tall as they are to their lips, a group of third-graders from Campbell K-7 School unleashed a wall of sound during their morning music class.

The horns, called pBuzzes – essentially a bell and a slide with a removable mouthpiece made from red plastic – are a relatively new instrument, and are made specifically for young and beginner musicians.

Campbell teacher Daniel Welch obtained 200 of the instruments with a $5,000 grant from the The Turning Foundation’s “Innovative Teacher Mini Grant” program. The purchase included the instruments, protective carrying cases and programming.

“I actually learned about the instruments through social media,” Welch said. “So I researched the organization that created the instruments and the educational programming, which is based in the UK [United Kingdom], and I thought, ‘Wow, this would be great for the students,’ but didn’t know where I’d get the money. I eventually found out through the school about the Turning grant and ended up being one of 11 local recipients of the funding.”

The lightweight pBuzz – “p” stands for plastic – horns are simple to operate. The only moving part is the slide, which is broken up into colored sections for easily finding the right note and are made to teach the fundamentals of playing brass instruments.

Most of the students in Welch’s class said they were interested in pursuing other instruments later on in their education.

“I like everything about playing,” Hunter Wellman, 8, said. “When we play in class and get better, it inspires me to play more.”

Musical competency isn’t the only lesson students learn with the pBuzz in Welch’s class. His not-so-secret motivation to introduce the program into his curriculum was to bolster his student’s literacy.

“Study after study has shown that when students learn to read music, they also see an increase in reading comprehension, which is key to understanding any subject, whether it’s math, the social sciences or anything else,” Welch said.

Students are given their own instruments, and while they don’t take them home at the end of the school day, they are expected to keep track of them, protect them from damage and carry them between their main classroom and their special classes throughout the day.

“In that way, it teaches them about responsibility as well,” Welch said.

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