It took me 6 pages to insert Durham into the conversation? Wow, I'm falling down on the job here.
DS takes private piano lessons. He'll add guitar starting next year, and looks forward to playing a band instrument in middle school. His elementary school offers music as one of the specials, and the emphasis is on rhythmic instruments. I was amazed at open house to see the quality and breadth of instruments in the music room... maybe 25 different kinds of drums alone, plus several types of xylophones, guitars/mandolins, clickers and clackers, gongs, and so on from all over the world. I could hardly pull my hubby and son out of the room. It is my son's favorite "special."
The arts magnet elementary in Durham offers Suzuki violin to all its students. All students in all Durham schools have a music special similar to what I described above.
Our school also offers science as one of the specials. So far they have done great hands-on chemistry and physics experiments in the lab and outdoors.
I believe the "world cultures" magnet in Durham and perhaps some others offer language instruction, and there is a Spanish-English bilingual program at one of the schools. (Ours chose science instead of language.)
Specials are offered in the afternoons on a rotating schedule. There are seven specials this year for my son's grade: art, music, science, media center, computers, and PE.
The computer lab is fully outfitted with a Mac for each student, and my son is already proficient with a Mac (we have PCs at home) and has the "home" row of keyboarding memorized.
The art room is, again, impressive regarding the quality and breadth of materials. They do weaving on a full-size loom, pottery in a real kiln tucked in a back room, painting, color theory. My son is not artsy at all, but he understands perspective now after last week's lesson.
I didn't say anything about the most important thing, the specials teachers, but they are all very enthusiastic and passionate about their subject areas.
I don't mind that the specials and types of instruction vary among schools. That is part of the great choice system in Durham. Somewhere in Durham, there's a curriculum that fits your child.