BUENA PARK, CA – Emery School students are banging on drums, learning about cultures and enhancing distance learning lessons through a new virtual music program that teaches students musical appreciation in the comfort of their homes.

The program, which offers six weekly music lessons to students, is part of a partnership between the school and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Each lesson pairs a Segerstrom musician with a class to mesh music with lessons on world cultures, folklore and history.

Grammy award winner Cory Hills, a classically trained percussionist, uses his musical background to teach students about African, Native American and New Zealand folk tales.

“I love using music to bring these folk stories to life,” Hills said. “The students I’ve worked with are very responsive and I’m impressed with their knowledge. I’m looking forward to exploring more folklore with the rest of the school to show them different aspects of the world.”

In an upcoming lesson, students will write their own stories and use household items like pots and pans as drums while telling them.

“I like how Cory integrates music to everyday life. His percussive storytelling is a form of music not common to kids and shows how music can tell a story,” fourth-grade teacher Becky August said. “Because it’s a story, you can tell any story and add a great beat and it’s still music. Kids love that and it makes them successful.”

Principal Julie Linnecke said she was excited to see her students learning about cultural diversity and classical music from professional musicians and hopes that these lessons will drive student interest in performing arts.

“We are so proud to have Segerstrom Center for the Arts musicians working with Emery School students to boost creativity,” Superintendent Dr. Ramon Miramontes said. “These virtual classes are exciting to not only students, but also to parents and teachers because music lessons increase academic achievement.”


BUENAPARK_MUSIC1: Grammy-winning musician Cory Hills introduces Emery School students to percussion instruments from around the world. Hills and other musicians from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts are mixing music with curriculum during weekly lessons through to a partnership between the center and school.

BUENAPARK_MUSIC2: Baba the Storyteller, a professional musician, weaves music into his storytelling lessons for Emery School kindergarten students. Baba and other musicians from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts are working with Emery through a partnership that brings weekly virtual music lessons to distance learning.