ELKHART — Rehearsing for a concert can be challenging enough, but students from Roosevelt STEAM Academy and Pierre Moran Middle School have taken their preparation to another level.

With help from the University of Notre Dame, the students have spent the semester building their own instruments and composing their own music as part of an education program that combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and music. 

The program started in January. Students began by working from kits developed by the South Bend Woodworks and used science, math and engineering to design and build whistles, chimes and wooden drums.

Afterward, the students composed original music for their instruments. The students have been working alongside Jay Brockman, director of the Center for Civic innovation, Juan-Carlos Alarcon, music education student at Indiana University South Bend and Wendy Daly of the Music Village in South Bend.

And on Friday, the students –10 from Roosevelt and 25 from Pierre Moran – will put that work to use in a special performance at Pierre Moran with Third Coast Percussion, a Grammy Award-winning quartet from Chicago.

The students are now rehearsing for the concert, and their teachers said they’ve been impressed with the progress the students have made. 

“I think the students are going to do a great job,” said Alarcon, who was assisting the Roosevelt students on Wednesday. “This is a great opportunity for the Roosevelt students to play with Pierre Moran and with Third Coast Percussion, meet new people and build this community of musicians.”

“I’m very excited for the concert,” said Diana Pieda, an eighth-grader at Pierre Moran, “We’ve been working hard and I believe our hard work will pay off.”

The program’s objective was to enhance the students’ math skills while using music. The students have learned about sound waves and musical instruments. It also included common denominators emphasizing the use of fractions in composing rhythms, among other things.

Many of the students are already in band class, and said the program added a unique twist to their music experience and understanding of how math can be used in music.

Alex Delgado, a Pierre Moran student, said the program has helped enhance his interest in music.

“Music is definitely something I want to pursue in life, and this program just helped me understand the process of creating music better,” he said.

Another student, Jasmine Pantoja, said the program taught her the importance of teamwork.

“This was definitely a team effort, I don’t think we could have got this done without each other,” she said.

The concert is free and open to the public. It will take place tonight at Pierre Moran Middle School. The concert is set to start at 6 p.m. and doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

A reception will follow the performance.

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