ORANGE, NJ — On any given Saturday, Orange Preparatory Academy business teacher Glenn Gamble can be found standing next to a yellow school bus on the Lincoln Avenue side of the school, holding a clipboard and patiently waiting for the students participating in the school district’s weekend music program to arrive for the short bus trip to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark for free lessons.
The link between students’ academic achievement and active participation in music programs has been well established, and Orange Superintendent of Schools Ron Lee has accordingly instituted a program to benefit local students.
“I am a chaperone for the Arts Program, in cooperation with NJPAC, and the students are going down to participate in a strings program,” Gamble said Saturday, Nov. 21, while waiting for his music students to arrive. “They rehearse at Rutgers on Saturdays at Bradley Hall. It’s a lot of fun. They’ll have two concerts in the spring — one at NJPAC and one on Montclair State campus.”
Gamble said the bus leaves Orange Preparatory Academy on Saturday mornings at 11:30 a.m. and travels to Bradley Hall in Newark, where rehearsals start at noon and run to 2 p.m.
“They’re back here by about 2:30 p.m.,” Gamble said.
“We don’t give them lunch on this program. This is just a two-hour rehearsal. We give them free transportation. They actually have snacks for them when they get there.”
Gamble said “free” is a price that can’t be beat, considering all of the known benefits to students; in fact, he said he knows how beneficial the study of music can be, based on his own firsthand experience.
“I came up in arts. I’m a graduate of the Newark Boys Chorus School. In four years of high school, I did all advanced choral music, and I’m also a retired member from the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club, one of the oldest African-American all-male ensembles in the state of New Jersey,” Gamble said.
“Arts gives you the discipline. It also give you the rigor. It’s a science and you can have fun while you’re learning.”
Gamble said sports coaches always talk about the benefits of athletics for children and young adults, and that learning teamwork, competition and good sportsmanship, while also experiencing firsthand the value of hard work, discipline and dedication serves both young athletes and young musicians and performers well throughout their personal and professional lives.
“It gives the structure; it gives me the focus and the discipline,” Gamble said.
“My background is accounting and finance, so arts is right on up there in the science league.”
To learn more about the Orange Preparatory Academy Music Program and the Strings Rehearsal Program at Rutgers-Newark University in cooperation with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, call 973-677-4000 or 973-866-3004.