The Opera House Presents: Kids Making Music

Making Music STEAM World-Building Curriculum Culminates With The Intergalactic Ensemble at the Benderly–Kendall Opera House in Patagonia.

From “The Universe Within” website – Written by Paula Schaper

On Wednesday, May 15 fourth and fifth graders at Patagonia Elementary School participated in The Intergalactic Ensemble, the final project for the fourth unit of The Universe Within science, technology, engineering, art and technology (STEAM) curriculum called Making Music.

Making Music was inspired by Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts Executive Director Christina Wilhelm. The 40-hour curriculum was developed by Mat Bevel Company and University of Arizona School of Mathematical Sciences. The program was taught by Patagonia Elementary School Fifth Grade Teacher David Clovesko-Wharton. K-12 Music Teacher Scott Connick prepared students for Ukulele and Native American flute small ensembles as well as a group chorale ensemble performance.

As part of the program, students took on the role of world-builders using their imaginations, science principles, technology and tools to create musical instruments that play a positive role in their worlds. They also learned about music theory as well as advanced physics sound principles.

Teacher David Clovesko-Wharton said, “Making Music provided a novel experience that transformed the minds and hearts of our fourth and fifth grade students at Patagonia Elementary School. They invented and constructed original musical instruments, and created narratives on how music can help society. The grand finale manifested at the Opera House with a ‘street music show’ of homemade instruments along the walkway entrance as an audience of K-3 elementary students and community members poured into the acoustically beautiful Opera House. Our incredible Patagonia students always surprise and impress me with their united effort, collaborative creativity, and bravado on stage. They crushed it, and I’m so proud of them. I’m so grateful I’ve been able to pilot all four of The Universe Within STEAM world-building units.”

Once inside, students demonstrated music theory and advanced physics concepts to a full house including sound vibrations, rhythm and beat, sound energy transfer, pitch and frequency waves, volume and amplitude waves. Then small student ensembles performed “Skip to My Lou” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” on ukuleles. Another small ensemble performed “Amazing Grace” on Native American flutes. The event concluded with a group chorale ensemble singing “Rainbow Connection.”

Executive Director for the Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts Christina Wilhelm said, “I think the Opera House was transformed during The Universe Within final event with the sounds of fourth and fifth graders excited to be displaying their remarkable demonstrations in the science of Making Music. A stellar performance!”

The Universe Within dispels a common myth that creative genius is a talent only a few possess. In fact, most everyone is born a creative genius, but in order to maintain this creative problem-solving ability, divergent thinking must have equal footing with convergent thinking. To recognize participants exemplary imaginative work over the last five month, all twenty three students received a Certificate of Genius.

For more information about The Universe Within STEAM world-building curriculum, contact Paula Schaper at or visit:

Making Music was made possible by the generous support of: The Burton Family Foundation, Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association, Patagonia Regional Community Fund, South32, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts, and Sonora Investment Management.