7/12/2006

Something Different

This doesn't have to do with trumpet, but this may be of interest if you are looking for new, exciting methods of music education. I got involved with a program at Georgia State University called Sound Learning. The point of Sound Learning is that musicians have residencies in schools and instead of the standard approach of going in, talking a little bit about the instruments, and playing a lame concert (okay, they're not all lame), the musicians actually collaborate with the teachers to set up a project that is related to the curriculum and gets the students actively involved in making music.

I did residencies in two schools this past year, working with an entire grade level in each school. For the residency with 2nd graders at Fernbank Elementary I was a composer and worked with a woodwind quintet. We explored how composers use music to represent other things (for examples the quintet played my transcriptions of Debussy's The Sea and Saint-Saens's The Elephant). The teachers wanted us to relate to the states of water and the water cycle, so we decided to have the students help me compose a piece with a sections representing the three states of water.

The students were responsible for coming up with the themes and quite a bit of the accompaniment for each state of water, plus the instrumentation of the themes and the form of the piece. I provided transitions, fleshed out the instrumentation, wrote parts for the children to sing, plus translated their notation. Finally, the children performed and recorded the pieces with the wodwind quintet. You can see how all of this worked and listen to all of the pieces here. Here is one class's piece.

The other residency with 3rd graders at Centennial Place Elementary I worked with Adam Neal, and we guided the students to write and record their own songs. Though we guided them, all music was actually written and performed by the students. The students were broken up into groups of about 4-5, and their songs had to be about the body systems. You can read about our process and listen to all of the songs here, but here is one of them to listen to.

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