Little Mozarts

EMPORIA — Their jobs are safe for now, but it might be wise for musician Billy Joel and Nobel Prize- winning physicist Albert Fert to start looking over their shoulders.

A whole new crop of competitors is being grown at Sacred Heart School in Emporia.

The school’s 65 students in grades kindergarten to sixth are taking part in Music Plus Math, a cutting-edge program that seeks to make students not only more musical, but also more mathematical.

Research has shown that certain music has a beneficial effect on developing parts of the brain that deal with mathematics. Some call it the “Mozart Effect.”

It’s too early to tell whether the program is accomplishing its long-term goals at Sacred Heart.

But one thing’s for sure.

“My daughter has a ball with it,” said Phil Metz, father of fourth-grader Jordan Metz. “It’s been great for her. She has never played a piano before, [but now] she’s walked up to keyboards in stores and has been tickled pink that she can play music.”

And she’s not alone. The program’s nontraditional format — which features the use of both musical and computer keyboards — keeps the learning interactive, and the students engaged.

“I think it’s great,” said Tammi Garriott, third- and fourth-grade teacher. “The kids love it. They’re all into computer games, and this combines their gaming skills with learning mathematical concepts.”

Music Plus Math has not only earned rave reviews from parents and school officials in Emporia, but also the archdiocesan school office.

“It’s a good example of not teaching technology, but using technology to teach,” said Karla Leibham, associate superintendent.

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