The oldest continually meeting civic club in Warner Robins, the Noon Optimist Club, is known for its commitment to the youth of our community. The club hosts the city’s annual Optimist Bowl, provides scholarships and sponsors the Junior Optimist Club at Northside High School.
The club had some very special guests at its meeting last week.
Julia Wiley, the music teacher at Pearl Stephens Elementary School, and two students, Rayvon Love and Gianna Bourgeious, performed several pieces of violin music at the meeting.
Wiley, who in addition to her degree in education holds a bachelor’s degree in violin, started off as a special education teacher at Pearl Stephens before taking the music position in 2009.
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Along with her teaching duties, Wiley oversees the Strings of Pearl group — a violin education program of about 25 third- to fifth-graders.
Wiley teaches violin with the Suzuki method, which is based on the mother tongue method.
“Shinichi Suzuki realized that young children can learn music the same way that they learn to speak, by hearing their parents say words over and over. It is a stair step method learning songs and each new song gives the students a new skill,” said Wiley who went on to explain that the Suzuki method involves much ear training.
“We do variations of songs, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle,’ for example. There are four variations of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ and each variation helps the students learn new and different skills,” Wiley said.
Wiley so believes in the benefits and opportunities the violin offers that even after her students leave Pearl Stephens Elementary she continues to volunteer her time to teach them if they want to continue their studies with the violin.
One of her older students, Rayvon Love an 11th-grader at Warner Robins High School, was one of the students performing at the Optimist Club meeting.
Rayvon is planning on majoring in violin in college and has several goals for his career with the violin; one is to play with the New York Philharmonic; another is to return to Warner Robins one day and continue Wiley’s legacy of teaching younger students the violin.
“I want to create a strings program as well. I want to give other students the access to all of the wonders that the violin has,” Rayvon said.
Rayvon, who also plays other instruments, says that for him, the violin stands out.
“It is the story that comes with the instrument, it has a sound that registers like a human voice at times,” Rayvon said.
Being a 16-year-old boy with career aspirations for the violin amazes a lot of people Rayvon said.
“It is highly unusual but it liberates me to own that. Music is universal, despite who you are or where you come from; there is a diversity in the violin and that keeps me going,” Rayvon said.
The Strings of Pearls will be having a recital at 5:30 May 2 at Pearl Stephens Elementary School. For more information about the program, contact Pearl Stephens Elementary School. For more information about the Warner Robins Noon Optimist Club, which meets weekly on Thursday, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alline Kent can be contacted at email@example.com.