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Instrumental Performances Play On with “Sweets with Strings” and “Bagels with the Band”


Contact: Katie Boone
Phone: (818) 433-7600


ETM-LA Music Teacher Julia Varady

For the second year in a row, Education Through Music-LA hosted virtual “Sweets with Strings” and “Bagels with the Band” events for band and orchestra partner school students, giving them the chance to perform for an audience despite this time of social distancing. The performances — over 20 in total — took place virtually throughout March. Each one culminated with a time of connection as students and their families celebrated their ensemble’s achievement with sweets and bagels.

Dr. Franklin F. Gómez, ETM-LA Instructional Supervisor, coordinated and oversaw these special performances, which for many students was their first time playing an instrument for an audience. “The goal is to allow students to get their feet wet with their first ‘open class’ performance by being able to demonstrate basic ensemble skills and structure,” said Dr. Gómez.

“The hope is for students to experience basic instrumental performance skills with correct posture, breath control, reading musical notation, basic tone production, playing ‘do’ to ‘sol’, etc.”

ETM-LA Strings Teacher Julia Varady conducted a portion of the performances and shared how the students focused on working as a team to prepare. “Each week, students were able to play individually, build confidence in their performance material, and encourage one another for their bravery and courage to do so. [The event] took shape in a mixture of warm-ups and songs that had been cultivated over multiple class sessions.” And through a student’s recommendation, the string ensembles featured “We Will Rock You” by Queen as their finale.

These events provide a key musical learning experience for parents and guardians as well. The teachers explain the instruments in detail (including parts and accessories required, like reeds and strings) and offer parents advice on what to look for while students practice at home, such as proper posture and technique.

Dr. Gómez relayed the parents’ “huge gratitude to the teachers for always bringing music education to their children.” Proud parents and guardians got a front row virtual seat to “how their child’s playing is part of a bigger, unified ensemble. [Parents] expressed how important band and orchestra classes are not only to their child, but for [themselves] as well, because it brings joy and stability in these uncertain times.”

“All students were given the opportunity to be heard… this is such an important aspect of support for our very beginning musicians who are learning at home,” Varady shared. “The students did a fantastic job and were so excited to share what they have been learning (along with eating a sweet, of course!). [I am] so impressed with the progress our students have made; they have worked so hard to learn an instrument over the internet. I’m so lucky to have such dedicated students who are eager to participate and learn more about music!”


Education Through Music-Los Angeles is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide and promote music in under-resourced schools as part of the core curriculum for every child in order to enhance students’ academic achievement, creativity, and overall development.

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