By Deborah Brancic, Pasadena Now Correspondent
Parents, alumni, faculty and friends of The Gooden School enjoyed wine and cheese while listening to music played by members of The Pasadena Symphony and POPS on Gooden school grounds Friday night.
The public event, Music in the Garden, was a symbiotic collaboration between the school and the musical organization, which not only promotes Gooden’s approach to teaching music and the arts to each and every student, but also showcases classical music as part of The Pasadena Symphony Association’s “Random Acts of Music” performance series.
“Here at Gooden, academics and the arts are considered equally important,” said Patty Patano, Head of School. “All students learn to play instruments, and when they reach middle school they can join the orchestra or the band. We believe that music is important to the development of children.”
The event was a chance for current and prospective parents to wander the grounds of the independent Episcopal institution, with faculty and alumni on hand to answer any questions they might have about the school. Patano introduced Gooden’s music teacher to attendees, so that she could explain the school’s approach to music and the arts.
“Everybody from third grade up plays an instrument,” said Nadya Ewen, Gooden music teacher. Playing an instrument is required at Gooden, she said. Students are introduced to instruments beginning in kindergarten, so that they have a good idea what to expect by the time they need to decide on an instrument.
“A lot of times I will encourage students to consider an instrument,” said Ewen. “You don’t want to just hand them one because they may not like it. They need to learn about it first. Here the younger students see the older ones playing, so they have an idea what it’s like. They live with it, so by the time they get to choose, they have the knowledge and experience to make the choice.”
At Gooden, students begin their foray into the world of music from their first year. Each child learns to play recorder, cello, violin, viola, string base, as well as wind and string instruments before reaching middle school.
“Gooden teaches music to kids from an early age, which is not the case with all schools in the PUSD,” said Paul Jan Zdunek, CEO of The Pasadena Symphony Association. “Gooden puts a lot of resources into the arts. Children who learn here can eventually come perform in our youth orchestra.”
Music in the Garden is the first time the two organizations have come together, but Zdunek said it seemed a logical step. “This is a new partnership with Gooden because they put a large emphasis on integrating music and the arts into what they do. This seems like a natural fit for us,” he said.
“This event is the combination of a world-class musical organization together with the school, and we are honored to have The Pasadena Symphony and POPS perform on our grounds,” said Patano.
Zdunek added that it was a good way for the association to gain exposure in the community, while utilizing their Random Acts of Music grant, which is supported by the James Irvine Foundation, the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, the Rose Hills Foundation, as well as the Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.
“The Random Acts of Music program is a way for our musicians to get out into the community without the usual barriers of having to obtain permits, sell tickets, and the like, allowing them to create interactive music within the community,” he said. Friday night’s event included performances by a string quartet and a harpist.
The Gooden School’s next Open House is scheduled to take place on November 16th, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.