"Music is the universal language of mankind"
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This guide is intended for teachers and leaders who wish to inform young and old about the events of World War II. This should help to teach history that is not being taught in schools. There are suggested questions for discussion or use on your own. While this may be a more in-depth study of the Holocaust, you may choose the chapter or chapters you feel would be most beneficial for your students to study.
Each chapter can stand alone; however, the book is written in chronological order to assure the development and accurate presentation of history.
While the book aims to teach history, it emphasizes culture and music and illustrates the importance of music in people's lives.
LA Musician, Niv Ashkenazi, will lead educational workshops with K-12 students in the San Fernando Valley. In the above photo Dr Anthony Cantrell, Director of Arts Education at The Soraya, explains to a class while Ashkenazi is ready to play.
Following are excerpts from an article that appeared in the LA Times about the Violins of Hope LA County and the educational programs being undertaken: (complete article in Press section)
Violins of Hope, dedicated to instruments from the Holocaust, is coming to L.A.
by Makeda Easter, February 25, 2019
L.A. musician Niv Ashkenazi is the only North American violinist authorized to possess one of the rescued Holocaust violins. He will lead about 40 educational workshops with K-12 students in the San Fernando Valley.
Ashkenazi will use the tragic stories behind the violins — like the instrument thrown out of a train en route to Auschwitz or a violin that saved the lives of people who played in a concentration camp orchestra — to explore the history of World War II. Ashkenazi will be joined by Holocaust survivor and chairwoman of Violins of Hope in L.A. County, Susanne Reyto, who will share stories of her experience with students.
A year ago I had the privilege to reconnect with Susanne Reyto when she was the survivor who spoke to my classroom at the LAMOTH. She asked me if I would be willing to help with the book she was writing to augment the educational portion of VOH and I couldn’t say no.
When the book was finished, I showed it to my superintendent Dr. Bob Nelson who immediately said he wanted to be a part of the project in whatever way possible. He was so impressed with the project, the message and the importance of it, he wanted to reach as many students as possible. We found a suitable date, assemblies for the students and a concert for our community of Fresno. As a team, our music, arts and activities dept. came together to assemble the best possible program we could.
We planned two assemblies, each about 1800 students, for 6th grade as it fit perfectly into the curriculum. The program included a short video of the history of the violins, Susanne speaking briefly about her own background and the impact VOH had on her. Our own students from FUSD music department were going to perform and each assembly was going to last about 45 minutes. All the teachers who were bringing their students to the event attended a 1 hour workshop with me to give them additional tools to teach the subject.
For the evening we planned a free community concert performed by musicians from Fresno Unified as well as community members led by our own Fresno States professor, Dr. Thomas Loewenheim. Thomas grew up with Avshi Weinstein, the son of the founder of VOH, and actually received his first cello as a gift from his grandfather. Thomas assembled a wide range of music written by Jewish composers to be played. We arranged to show a video about the Violins and Susanne was to speak about her personal story. In closing, Fresno unified students were going to play with the community orchestra.
The night was to culminate with a reception hosted by our superintendent as a thank you to all who participated in this wonderful event.
Hilary Levine, Teacher
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