Melissa, an eighth grader, saw Anna Brathwaite, our music teacher, play the bass guitar recently and she became interested in learning the instrument.
“She knows how to play a lot of different instruments,” Melissa said. “I’m in love. And she does it so flawlessly. I want to practice more because I want to be like that.”
Ms. Brathwaite is helping our eighth-grade musicians at Beginning with Children Charter School 2 prepare to perform “Billie Jean” at upcoming end-of-year ceremonies. The band will feature strings, such as violins and violas, keyboards and percussion.
Limited to distance learning two years ago, our musicians worked with Ms. Brathwaite through Zoom by practicing singing, exploring online piano compositions and learning vocabulary words.
“I’m really proud of my eighth graders,” she said. “They’ve come a long way.”
Following the example of Ms. Brathwaite as a multi-instrumentalist, Melissa became proficient in the violin as a seventh grader and requested to play the viola this year.
“She’s a very curious student,” Ms. Brathwaite said. “She is very focused. She works on things until she gets them. She asks questions when she needs help with something. She works well with people around her.”
Micah, who transferred to B2 this year as an eighth grader, had previous experience as a piano player but wanted to further his musical studies.
Ms. Brathwaite teaches more than 100 students from sixth to eighth grade and sees them every day.
Edwin Santiago, our co-principal, also grew up as a multi-instrumentalist and learned to play the violin and piano.
Traditionally, families of students studying orchestra are asked to purchase an instrument. The music program at B2 doesn’t have that barrier to entry. There are enough instruments to share and for dedicated students to take home to practice.
“I’m really proud to be part of the team at Beginning with Children Charter School 2,” Ms. Brathwaite said. “We have the resources to give our students who come from minority communities opportunities that a lot of students don’t have.”
As a classical violinist, Ms. Brathwaite said she is many times the only person of color on her concert stage.