Posts Tagged 'Arts Education'

Will the Band Play On? The Future of Music Education

By Jennifer Maney — I play the guitar and have been doing so since I was 9 years old. I also write and record music. I firmly believe that music holds the power to generate passion and connections not just to the past but to each other.

I also currently have a 13-year old who attends school in a relatively affluent suburb of Milwaukee. She had to choose which alternative she wanted for her musical exploration. Those choices were choir, orchestra, or band. After much discernment about the possibility of leaving the cello behind (her instrument of choice during her grade school years) she opted for choir, which now means that five days a week she has a 50-minute class on how to harmonize with a group, learn about musical history, understand how to follow a conductor, and meet expectations of performance behavior that goes way beyond the classroom.

I recently began to talk with her intentionally about how lucky she is that she has this opportunity, given the current climate in many schools that, if they haven’t already, are discussing eliminating music, dance, and theater programs due to budget cuts.

This brings me to the opportunity I had last week. I witnessed, first-hand, the work of Pius XI Performing Arts Academy. This program offers outreach programs to as many as 26 area grade schools in general music, orchestra, choir, and dance. It is a four-year, sequenced curriculum and its aim is to, among many other things, help students find their artistic potential and utilize the arts as a way to learn about history and other cultures. Continue reading ‘Will the Band Play On? The Future of Music Education’

Dealing with Distractions

By Anna Luberda — This past week was the second week back from Christmas break.  It has been a trying two weeks.  Not only were the kids still in break mode, but the whole school was rehearsing for its production of Pinnochio that took place on Friday afternoon.  On top of everything, rehearsals for the play took place during the school day, so it was difficult to keep my kids on schedule as more than half of them were members of the cast.

Each day when I heard the announcement over the intercom to send members of the cast to the music room for rehearsal, I grew more and more frustrated.  It was difficult enough to keep the kids motivated when all they wanted to do was watch the play or go to rehearsal.  But to have nine of my twelve students gone for over half of the week made it seem as if the entire week was just wasted.

Needless to say, by Friday I was pretty fed up and seriously ready for Pinnochio to be finished.

The whole cast was supposed to be in the gym at 8:30 on Friday morning for dress rehearsal.  I decided to have the remaining kids in my class do a couple of math worksheets and then we watched a movie before lunch.  I was angry that I had lost a week of instruction, and I felt like the kids not in the play had missed out too.  Of course, when I asked the kids how they felt, they were grateful that they got a free day.  Knowing that my other kids weren’t as upset about things made me feel a bit better.

When I walked my kids back from recess, the hallway outside of my classroom was chaos.  There were kids in puppet costumes and donkey ears running around all over.  All I could think was “I can’t wait until this day is over!” I fought my way through a sea of tin soldiers and ballerinas to my classroom.  My students sat down, and we had a quick count around before we lined up to go watch the play.

I walked down the hall to the gym with a bitter taste in my mouth.   I was looking forward to seeing the play that my kids had worked so hard to put on, but I was still a bit mad that it had taken so much time away from my classroom.

The play ended up being really sweet, and all the students’ families came to watch.  I had been so caught up in being angry and resentful that I failed to see how much the kids enjoyed this experience.  They worked hard all week to produce a play for their parents, teachers, and friends.  After seeing how happy the experience made the kids I was able to get over my sour attitude.  Of course, we’ll still have to make up for lost time — but I think the students will be glad to get back into their routine.

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