A few weeks ago my wife and I sat in the little theater at Spanish Fork High School enjoying the beautiful music performed by the high school orchestras, of which our youngest son is a part. The experience caused me to reflect upon the progress of the orchestra program in Spanish Fork during the time our 8 children have been in the local schools.
In the spring of 1989 our 2nd son came home from school and excitedly announced that he was going to play the cello. The middle school orchestra teacher had made a visit to his school to encourage fifth graders to register for orchestra the following year. She measured his hand and suggested he consider cello. That teacher was Sherrie Dunford. Our son didn’t play the cello, but he did register for orchestra and Mrs. Dunford taught him to play the violin. This was the beginning of music education for our family. This boy and his seven siblings all got involved in music education as a result of this introduction. Four of our eight children chose orchestra and were taught by Mrs. Dunford. Three learned violin and the last learned cello.
During the 1988-1989 school year Mrs. Dunford started an after-school orchestra program with 6 or 7 students. She managed to convince a very reluctant administration to let her teach orchestra the following year during the school day. It started small – her first group may have only had 15 students in it – but the orchestra program continued to grow at Spanish Fork Intermediate School as she started a new group of sixth grade students each year while continuing to teach the seventh, eighth, and ninth grade programs. At the end our son’s 9th grade year she worked with Spanish Fork High School to make sure that there would be an orchestra teacher for her students to continue with the following year.
From those humble beginnings where Mrs. Dunford taught one orchestra class each day, she quickly got to the point where she was teaching orchestra all day long every day with 30 to 50 students in each class. Over the years she has taught hundreds of students to play violins, violas, cellos, and bass violins. Her students love her. She makes learning and playing beautiful music fun. She has provided our children with a talent that they continue to enjoy as adults and with a love of music that they are passing on to their children. She has done the same for countless other families in Spanish Fork and Salem. She brought the music of stringed instruments to an entire community through her persistence and love of music and children.