Student Voice


February 26, 2024



Donation to CHILD Center gives music to children

April 27, 2012

Children at the C.H.I.L.D Center and University Preschool at UW-River Falls are benefitting from a large donation of money for the purchase of new instruments for advanced learning.

“During music, when you get to play music with the instruments, that’s what I like to do,” said Cecilia, a 4-year-old from the Center.

The purchase of the new instruments for the center would have not been possible if not for Hilree Jean Hamilton and her husband, Kyle Brokken. They donated a total of $20,000 to both the childcare centers and the music education department.

The donation to the music education department totaled $5,000 and the two donations to the childcare centers were $7,500 each.

The children at the center are able to have new instruments to play with and continue their music lessons with Camilla Horne, lecturer of music at UWRF, because of the large donation.

“You have to listen to her rules,” said 4-year-old Cooper. “If you don’t listen she takes your instrument away until you do.”

Miss Horne, as the children call her, volunteers her time to teach the children about music. She teaches them things such as rhythm, beats and melodies.

“She tells us to be patient because you have to wait your turn,” said Genevieve, a 5-year-old at the center. “She says to put it [instrument] down in front and put it in your lap.”

The center has an activities area for the children to participate in music time, where there are a few shelves for the instruments and a stack of musical books that the children were eager to show each other.

The new addition to the center also includes outdoor musical instruments. These instruments are designed to be outdoors and withstand weather conditions.

The children are able to take the attached mallets or music sticks and hit the hallowed out wood, pipes or metal chimes to create a musical sound.

“I like all of them,” said Zoe, a 4-year-old. Zoe and her 5-year-old friend Ellie were enthusiastic about playing the instruments when their pre-kindergarten teacher, Amy Norelius asked them what their favorite instruments were.

“We play the instruments,” Ellie said.

Miss Horne is a music education professor who volunteers her time to teach the children about the different aspects of music because she believes that it is an important part in child development.

“From birth to age nine, kids are music sponges,” Horne said.

In order to progress the children’s cognitive development, music theory and musical patterns are taught to the children through the use of music and listening skills. One activity that Horne did with the children was give them each a drum and have them play a sound of a word on it. Horne used words like apple and watched the children catch on quickly and enthusiastically to the idea of playing the syllables that they heard spoken.

“What I’m trying to get them to be aware of is everything has a sound and pattern,” Horne said.

There is a greater chance of children to become top of their class because of early musical development according to many research studies said Horne. The way this will work though, is if the musical development continues on through elementary schoolaged levels.

“Any participation in music will help in cognitive development in education such as their test scores,” Horne said. “Scores have shown an increase in the ACT or SAT of students who grew up learning music.”

Norelius has been a childcare teacher for 13 years and has worked in many different environments teaching children.

“This is the most intense musical programs I’ve experienced,” Norelius said. “Music comes natural to them and helps with their math and language skills.”

Minda Matthys is the director of the C.H.I.L.D Center and said that the new musical instruments are very appreciated and much needed for the children.

“We are blessed with a lot of great items,” Matthys said. “We even have instruments for the infants.”

Hamilton was a music professor at UWRF and was the one who first started to give the children of the care centers music lessons. She taught music lessons to the childcare center children for several years according to her husband.

Hamilton was diagnosed with cancer in November 2008 and went through treatment until 2010 when it came back. Doctors gave Hamilton one month to live but she survived one year until she died in January 2011.

In the event of the cancer returning, her and her husband, Kyle Brokken, set aside three different donation funds for the two childcare centers and the music education department at UWRF.

“She was a little kid inside and had a real appreciation for music and children and what ties the students together,” Brokken said.

Because of her health, Hamilton wanted to keep her work going by giving back to the children who gave her so much throughout the years.

“Hilree believed that music helps develop social skills, self esteem and self confidence and togetherness among children,” Brokken said. “She wanted them to feel good about themselves and their abilities.”

The condition of the instruments the two childcare centers had was rough and was in need of replacement. Brokken said that he asked for the help of Horne to purchase the instruments the children would need.

“Hilree was a strong and dedicated woman, she definitely lived her job and loved it,” Brokken said.


Kyle on 04 May 2012: Heather, I agree with your comment 100%. Dr. Horne has carried on and expanded Hilree's duties with excellence. She is a gifted, professional and enthusiastic educator. She has done a great job!

HEATHER on 29 Apr 2012: Hilree Hamilton was a terrific role model for students of all ages. The children at these centers are blessed to have been able to share her love of life and music! Dr. Horne deserves credit for volunteering her talents and dedication--priceless...!!