The music department at Payson Elementary School has gone through some changes since last year, including the purchase of 30 brand-new Yamaha Acoustic guitars.
Julie Davies, music teacher at Payson Elementary School, said the guitars are expected to arrive within the next few weeks.
Payson Elementary School bought the guitars as part of a restructuring of their music program.
Davies said the guitars will be used primarily by fourth-grade students at Payson Elementary School, because there is no specific music program for that grade level.
"In grades K-3, I give students a basic introduction to music. When they reach the third grade, I introduce them to recorders and teach them how to play them," she said.
"In fifth grade, they get to learn how to play keyboards," she added.
"For years I have wanted to offer something to fourth-graders to fill in the gap, so this year we were able to purchase 30 student-size guitars and we will also be providing lessons."
Guitar-playing lessons will be given during regular school hours and will not cost parents a dime, Davies said.
"The district is providing the lessons as part of the regular music curriculum, so unless parents want their kids to get lessons outside of school, it won't cost them anything for their fourth-grader to learn how to play the guitar."
Payson Elementary School chose to give lessons during regular school hours, rather than after school, because it is a good way for all students to have the opportunity to learn the basics of playing a guitar, since some working parents might not be able to accommodate their children's participation in an after school program.
"I'm really excited and pleased to be able to offer this to our fourth-graders this year," Davies said.
She said that since former band and strings instructor, Ron Sadlier, retired from teaching in 2005, the district has been unable to find a suitable replacement to teach band and strings at the elementary school level.
While trying to fill the position left vacant by Sadlier, Robert Tarallo, a civic-minded community member had stepped in to fill the gap, so students could still have band and strings at the school.
Tarallo, who is not a certified music teacher, found that the position required more expertise than he had in music and he vacated the position in 2006.
"I think it was great that Mr. Tarallo and others stepped in to try and help out in the music departments at Payson's elementary schools," Daria Mason, music educator at Frontier Elementary School said.
"But he was not a certified music instructor, and no one else who helped was either, as far as I know, and I just don't think they were qualified to teach music," Mason added.
Davies said the district considered using some of the music teachers at Payson's three elementary schools as roving instructors who would go from school to school to teach strings.
"I understand the principals did look at the scheduling, it was just not possible for us (music teachers) to travel from school to school, there are just not enough hours in the day to do that and still teach what we need to teach here," she said.
"It would be like doing what we could for fifth grade, so they could have band and strings, and then taking away from the other grades to do that."
Davies said that this year at Payson Elementary School, grades K-5 will attend music classes two or three times a week, depending on their grade level, which will include using classroom musical instruments, singing and participating in performances.
"At Payson Elementary School, we are also offering chorus," Davies said.
"Unfortunately we will not be offering strings or band."
Mason said she has also had to cut strings from her curriculum.
"We will be having band, which will meet three times a week, and choir, which will meet two times a week," she said.
"Unfortunately, there will be no strings available this year at Frontier."