North Philadelphia teacher inspires students through opera music

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Christopher Lashley, a music teacher at Luis Muñoz Marin Elementary School, is bringing the musical genre of opera to life, and exposing students to a new world of music.

"The ones that get paid are the ones who can sit down, pull a piece of sheet music out and be able to read it," said Lashley. "That's what I want them to be able to do. To be able to go to any school they want because they have mastered the concept and the basic foundation of what music is."

Lashley is a new teacher at the school and studied opera at Lincoln University. He's a product of the famed Boys Choir of Harlem.

Last year, the school didn't have a music teacher, but now, they not only have a new teacher, but a new music curriculum.

"They're like, wow, maybe if I really take this trek, I can either be a teacher, a performer or a composer. They are opening up avenues that they haven't had before, and it is a beautiful thing," said Lashley.

When you think of opera, you certainly don't think of an elementary school in the heart of North Philadelphia, but one school and one teacher is working to change that one student at a time, and it appears to be working.

The school's principal says this is a cross-curriculum class where students not only learn about opera, but other elements of music.

"Who would've thought that in the Fairhill community, students are going home excited about opera?" said Ariel Lajara, principal.

School staff admit they are surprised that students are embracing opera and pleased with the positive impact.

We asked student Jonathan Valintin what kind of music he liked.

"Rap, hip-hop and other stuff," said Valintin. And, of course, opera.

A school using music to educate and inspire.
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