Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weill Music Institute "Link Up" Program

Next month, I will load 10 school buses with 2nd and 3rd grade students from Chets Creek Elementary and take them downtown to the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts where they will experience a "live" orchestral concert by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

In preparation for this field study, the Weill Music Institute (Carnegie Hall, New York City) sent us educational outreach materials for our students, free of charge.  These booklets provided musical scores to read, an orchestral instrument review activity and several songs for us to learn prior to the concert on May 16th.  An audience sing-along will include "Simple Gifts" by Aaron Copland, "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig van Beethoven, "Going Home" (a spiritual based on the largo movement of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and "I Bought Me Cat" by Aaron Copeland.

I have been working diligently with my students to prepare them for this concert experience.  For most of them, this will be their first symphonic concert and I want it to be something they will always remember.

Thank you to Paula Thornton, Tony Kamnikar and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for coordinating this event for our elementary students each year and to Duval County Public Schools for providing bus transporation for our students at no cost to us.  Many thanks to the folks at Carnegie Hall for providing us with educational materials through their "Link Up" series.  We have thoroughly enjoyed them!!

Until next time...

Bobby McFerrin and the Pentatonic Scale

A colleague of mine sent me this video clip and I was stopped in my tracks by it! Bobby McFerrin was demonstrating the power of the pentatonic scale visually, aurally and kinesthetically - all at the same time!!

It was extremely fascinating to listen to an audience sing a pentatonic (5-tone) scale on the spot with no prior instruction! I presume they had no idea what Mr. McFerrin was doing (initially, he had to coax them to sing), but they were able to follow his lead using their eyes and ears.

The audience members he used to demonstrate this musical scale were attending the "World Science Festival" (2009).  These were not musicians; these were scientists, which made it even more fascinating to me.  I recognized several of the panelists on the stage behind Mr. McFerrin from a PBS special I had seen entitled, "The Music Instinct: Science and Song."  Daniel Levitin  (world reknown musican/neuroscientist) was up there along with several of his neuroscientist colleagues.  Check this out....

In early childhood music, the pentatonic scale is used all over the world to teach simple songs to children.  It is the foundation on which the Orff Schulwerk method is built.  Powerful implications here...

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Denise Ashlynd visits CCE

About a month ago, I was in the midst of a 3rd grade musical rehearsal when I realized that my students were singing so well, someone other than myself needed to experience it.  After thinking through my options regarding whom I might call at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, I settled on my sister in New York.  She is a professional singer/actress/dancer/commercial voiceover talent-type person and I knew she would appreciate the beautiful music-making that was happening in my classroom that morning.

I grabbed my cell phone and asked if she had a minute; I had some students that wanted to sing for her.  My students sang the song for her and she squealed with delight at the quality of their performance.  She was hollering things like "That was great!!"  "You rocked it!!"  "That was my favorite part!!" 30 days....

Denise came home for Easter break and asked if I thought my students would like to meet her.  I arranged for a visit at my school and brought the class back in to sing their song "live" for her.  They were so amazed that the person they sang for over the cell phone a month ago was now standing in my classroom. 

Denise Ashlynd - singer/actress/dancer/voiceover artist

What a neat opportunity for my students!!  Thanks to all who made her classroom visit possible.  We could not have done this without your assistance!!

Until next time...

The Power of Music

“Music is an essential part of human experience and fundamental to human existence.  It can soothe, move, inspire, heal, unite, stir us to action and, as some teaching experts now suggest, even improve our learning capabilities."  R. Phyllis Gelineau

"In an instant, music can lift our soul. It awakens within us the spirit of prayer, compassion and love. It clears our minds and has been known to make us smarter." Don Campbell - author of "The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit."

Music is a powerful, soul-stirring art form that can breathe life back into us. 

Go ye, therefore, and sing-play-dance!!

Until next time...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barnes and Noble "My Favorite Teacher" Contest

Today was a great day in my little world!

My principal completely shocked my socks off at our flag-raising ceremony by announcing that one of my students had entered an essay in the Barnes and Noble "My Favorite Teacher" Contest and won! Her essay was chosen as the winner in the elementary category and we were both presented with gift cards to Barnes and Noble Booksellers this morning.

Katie's essay was selected from approximately 60 elementary student entries.  Her essay will now move on to the regional competition.  The regional competition (Southeast US; approximately 120 stores) will be decided on or before April 17th.  If she takes it at the regional level, then it's off to the national level which will be decided on or before May 2nd.  This is all very exciting and we can't wait to see what happens next.  Stay tuned...

Katie and I

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beat Boxing Made Easy

A colleague of mine shared this link with me.  If you're a "beat box wannabe," this is the site for you. 

Create your own beat box and add various effects, whistling, harmonies, etc.  Even a technophobe like me could do it!

Have fun with this!!

Until next time...