It’s been a decade since the World Music Program was founded at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and students are poised to celebrate in a big way with “Takeover X”: three nights of performances at the school’s Don Kryston Memorial Theater, April 13–15.
The production will be a far cry from the program’s humble beginnings when founder and director Monina Sen Cervone started with a single taiko drumming class.
“The first drum was an old tire that I taped with duct tape. We had no classroom. So I was out on the tennis courts. I was out in the quad,” Cervone recalls.
Cervone was tired of music education centering European classical music and wanted to offer classes that represent the diversity of cultures in San Francisco. Her efforts evolved into the school’s World Music Program in 2012 – the only public school department of its kind in the country.
The program is differentiated not only by the type of music and instruments it teaches, but by how they are taught. “Everything that we learn is taught aurally [by] ear,” Cervone says. “And there’s a lot of, I think, assumptions made about music that’s learned in that way. It doesn’t have as much credit as classical music, and I hope that’s being changed.”