Two unique music classes offered in Quincy

Two unique music classes offered in Quincy
Posted on 10/03/2018
Teacher Greg Willis joins students in displaying pieces of the thumb pianos they are making in music craft class. Photo by Cindy ThackerayTwo new and unusual music classes are providing unique learning options for Plumas Charter School students in Quincy this year. Both taught by local music teacher Greg Willis, digital audio and music craft each highlight very different aspects of musicianship, as well as bring together other disciplines.

PCS also offers more traditional music options: instruction in ukulele, recorder, violin, and band by longtime local music teacher Johny McDonald. However, said PCS Executive Director Taletha Washburn, “we have many students at Plumas Charter School that are interested in and excited about music but don’t necessarily want to play instruments. Offering these additional classes is a way to engage more students.”

Willis said, “I believe it’s important to expose young students to music in the most broad ways possible. If you can pique their interests, then music may become a long-term interest where they are self-motivated.”

Digital audio
In this class students in grades seven through 10 use computer programs to create, mix, and modify loops and samples and make their own music. Along the way they also practice essential computer skills, such as installing and using software, connecting to other devices, and troubleshooting.

Washburn said the idea for PCS’s music technology class came about as a result of an assembly held several years ago.

“I sat in a cafeteria while one man and his keyboard enraptured 100 students!” she said. “He was able to mix songs with the students using their voices and sounds and then host a unique spirited dance party.”

The digital audio class exposes students to new technology and exciting modern career choices, said Washburn. “It’s a perfect blending of performing arts, technology, and career. Kids get really fired up about it.”

Music craft
In this class, offered to grades three through 10, students make their own musical instruments and learn how to play them. Along the way, they learn about the science of sound, music cultures, world instruments, and playing music together.

Recently, the class built their own thumb pianos (also known as kalimbas). Created almost entirely from recycled and salvaged materials, the instruments “require no expertise to make beautiful sounds,” said Willis.

Washburn pointed out that the music craft class “is a unique opportunity, as it combines crafts, music, and construction.”

At PCS, Willis also offers a guitar class to seventh- through 10th-graders, and rhythm instruction to transitional kindergarten through second grade. In addition, he teaches private music lessons from his Quincy music studio: learn more by calling 530-514-2913; visiting; or searching Greg Willis Music Studio on Facebook.

To learn more about Plumas Charter School, call 530-283-3851.

By Ingrid Burke, I. Burke Writing & Editing
[email protected]

In the photo: Teacher Greg Willis and his music craft class show off components for the thumb pianos they will build at Plumas Charter School’s 546 Lawrence St. location. “Kids and adults just want to pick them up and start playing,” said Willis of the simple instruments. Clockwise from Willis: Lucy Joseph, fourth grade; Jordan Montgomery, fifth grade; Troy Ayotte, fifth grade; John Paul Ferreboeuf-Gilbert, fifth grade; Aubrey Hardgrave, fourth grade; Rowley Guthrie, fifth grade; Maverick Coy, fifth grade; and William Rivera-Nelson, third grade. Photo by Cindy Thackeray