AUSTIN (KXAN) – Instead of taking the summer off, one Eanes ISD teacher brought her experience to Kenya to teach students and their teachers about music.
Cindy McNicholas has worked in music education for 36 years and has been a teacher at Barton Creek Elementary for 17.
In 2009, she said she got involved in a program called Recorders Without Borders, which among other things, sends – you guessed it – recorders to classrooms in countries that lack the funding to purchase instruments.
“For them, just getting a recorder, they will be jumping up for joy. They were so excited to get their instrument. Some of them were so excited they couldn’t even stop blowing. So for them to get a recorder, that’s pretty amazing,” McNicholas said.
“For years, we sent the recorders all over the world – Nicaragua, Haiti, and then Kenya. And then, in 2015, we started sending teachers to teach,” she continued.
McNicholas told KXAN that, in Kenya, the teachers are generally not musically trained. This year, she and another teacher from Manor ISD wrote a curriculum to help Kenyan teachers learn how to play and then how to teach the recorder.
“When we left, it [was] pretty amazing knowing that these teachers – over 50 teachers – have a document that they can refer to, to teach rhythms, to teach pitches and to teach with the recorder because they don’t get any instruments at all,” she said. ”That was a pretty awesome feeling.”
Lynn Brookes of Austin ISD started the organization in 2008. McNicholas said since Barton Creek Elementary got involved, students and teachers consistently donate over 1,500 recorders per year.
“I get to take those recorders and come back, and the kids get to see how they contributed and how they changed some lives there,” she said.
Those interested in getting involved in the Recorders without Borders initiative can visit its website.
“It was very positive knowing that you’re impacting them. But you’re also leaving them something special: a gift, a gift of music, a gift of love, gift of compassion,” McNicholas said.