Some students put on a “tough” act as a way of coping with growing up in tough environments. But early exposure to the arts can often allow these students to express their emotions, reflect on and cope with their environments in a creative, constructive manner. For those students whose first exposure to a true arts curriculum begins later in their schooling it can be difficult to shed their tough exteriors to truly engage in the learning process. An activity like singing in class, for instance, is viewed as “uncool” and resisted at great lengths.
By fifth grade, Kevin* had earned a reputation as his school’s “tough, cool guy.” When music class was first offered at Kevin’s school, PS 72, he used it as an opportunity to act out. Kevin had a lot of influence on his peers who followed his lead and misbehaved in music class. This was until Kevin started the current school year, when he became eligible to join the school’s band ensemble.
Kevin was surprisingly quick to sign up for band and to select the flute as his instrument. Kevin has been a natural at the flute and looks forward to music class and band ensemble every week. In band, especially, Kevin is in his element. He is often seen helping his classmates and enjoying the experience of learning and playing music. His music teacher, Morgan Ferris, sees him for both general music and band, and has noted that Kevin’s positive attitude has transferred over into the general music class. Kevin is now more focused and well-behaved. After building a positive rapport with Kevin through band, Ms. Ferris has noticed that Kevin no longer disrupts, and is instead a more active participant in both settings.
While playing the flute has come naturally to Kevin, he also works to improve his ability and knowledge. Kevin has used many of his lunch periods to rehearse and practice on his flute instead of getting into trouble. Not only has the flute kept Kevin from detention, but it has also increased his motivation and overall engagement in school. This has been a nice, noticed change for Kevin’s other academic teachers who have utilized his new-found interest in band to focus his attention in their classes as well. Some teachers have even used extra time at the end of class to allow Kevin to discuss his love of music or to perform for his classmates as a reward for being a productive member of the classroom.
And while Kevin has not made a complete turnaround (as he still shies away from singing), he’s shown great maturity and growth. Kevin has also become interested in using his “cool” guy image to now set a good example for others. Currently, he volunteers with Ms. Ferris to help her teach the Kindergarten classes “I’m a Little Snow Flake” in preparation for the school’s upcoming winter concert.
Kevin and his peers at PS 72, and across ETM’s 28 partner schools, are eagerly preparing for their winter concerts and are ready to showcase what they’ve learned. Without your help and support these students would not have the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and confidence through music. Please consider sharing this story with friends and colleagues who might be interested in supporting this project this holiday season, to help ETM provide students with a well-rounded education all year long. Your support can make a difference!
*The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy.
September 9th is the first day of school in New York City and our teachers have been busy preparing for the school year. In mid-August, Education Through Music (ETM) gathered music teachers from across its network to participate in the ETM Academy—its revamped and extended professional development (PD) workshops—in Oberlin, OH. At the ETM Academy, teachers attended sessions on Common Core and music education integration, classroom management, lesson planning and curriculum development, and music teaching methodologies. In addition, there were specialized sessions held, which were led by esteemed practitioners in the field on conducting ensembles, teaching guitar in middle school and incorporating world drumming into lessons.
Teachers were energized by the professional development sessions and are eager to apply these lessons in their respective classrooms, as reflected in their survey responses:
“I learned so much about the craft of teaching - not only through the programs/sessions offered, but also through being surrounding by so many fantastic and inspiring teachers 24 hours a day....Even whilst socializing in off time, there was constant talking of strategies and the trading of ideas. Wonderful and inspiring week!
“This experience has been SO valuable. The things we have experienced were very applicable and pertinent to our everyday teaching lives.”
“The retreat atmosphere was particularly helpful in creating a bonded community of learners and teachers.”
“The resources we have been given and the discussions that were had were very helpful.”
We wish our music teachers well – and look forward to another successful school year! As always, ETM plans to keep you informed of our partner school program’s progress. We hope you will consider forwarding this report to friends, family or colleagues interested in supporting music education. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
By the start of spring, Jamal showed me some of his school work and smiled when he told me that his grades were up. In orchestra, he never skipped a beat. I almost cried, a few weeks ago, when he brought me an essay he wrote about what music meant to him. I could see his effort come through in his writing. It was evident that he wrote and re-wrote his story many, many times before giving it to me. He wrote beautifully. I had seen where he was in the winter, and the improvement in his writing was astounding. Jamal’s hard work in both cello class and ELA are paying off and he has been selected for an USDAN scholarship to attend a summer arts camp. His gift and passion for music has motivated him to rise above his challenges in ELA. He is one of the most gifted students in the orchestra and his musical abilities are top notch. I am so excited for what is in store for him. *The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy.
Please consider sharing this story with friends and colleagues who might be interested in supporting this project to help ETM provide more students with sustained and quality music instruction. Your support can make a difference!
Students from across ETM’s 28 partner schools gave a marvelous performance at the 2013 ETM Children’s Benefit Gala, and captivated the nearly 500 guests in attendance. Under the direction of ETM’s Director of Programs, Pete Pauliks, and accompanied by Gala honoree Richard Bernstein on piano, 80 choral and 60 ensemble students sang and performed two pieces. “Turn the World Around,” a folk song inspired by African culture with words and music by Harry Belafonte and Robert Freedman, showcased the students’ musical skills effortlessly. The second piece performed, “Nella Fantasia”—Italian for “In My Fantasy”—beautifully captured the hope we share, as an organization, for our students.
ETM music teachers reported that their student-participants were energized by the performance and were eager to continue practicing even after the event was over! Fortunately, between general music classes, ensemble and choral rehearsals students won’t have to wait too long for their next performance. Partner schools will be holding their spring concerts throughout the month of May, and over 700 students will perform at this year’s ETM Festival in early June at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheatre at Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan. It is guaranteed to be a day filled with inspiring performances!
If you would like to attend a student concert or the ETM Festival, contact ETM for more information at info@ETMonline.org.
Other recent developments for ETM’s New York City Partner School Program include the release of program evaluation finding from the 2011-2012 school year. Data was gathered through surveys and interviews with students, principals and parents and assessment tests. Highlighted findings include:
To read the full report, please visit www.ETMonline.org/evaluation.
To read ETM’s success story narratives, please visit http://etmonline.org/etm-impact/success-stories
In order to help cultivate school communities that value the arts, ETM needs your continued support. Please consider sharing this report, and the positive impact ETM is having at our partner schools, with others who might like to contribute to restoring music education in NYC schools.
For the past few months, ETM’s partner school students were busy preparing and performing in holiday and winter concerts. The students worked extremely hard to learn their repertoire, and also had fun, as one 8th-grade student noted in his concert reflection: “One of the things I learned from this experience is that while working hard you can still have fun and enjoy yourself. I felt a sense of accomplishment and happiness because we were doing a great job, which was acknowledged and rewarded by the audience response; they gave loud applauses and cheers. Our conductor commended us for a job-well done.”
Each January, ETM’s first-year band and orchestra students also make their debut performances. These petit performances offer parents, local officials and school communities an opportunity to hear students perform, while learning about the ensemble programs over juice and bagels; the event is called “Breakfast with the Band” or “Breakfast with the Orchestra.” This school year, ETM offers band at six partner schools and orchestra at six partner schools.
The Breakfast with the Orchestra at M.S. 529 in the Bronx was a celebratory event that drew many parents as well as a liaison from newly-elected Councilman Andy King’s office. The orchestra played a series of short pieces, finishing with a selection that demonstrated their understanding of blues progression. Parents snapped photos and recorded videos throughout the show, clapping and cheering for their kids.
In addition to the choral and instrumental concerts held on school grounds, students from partner school MS 180’s Special Education classes visited the Bartow Senior Center in the Bronx to share their holiday cheer. The students, who use xylophones and small percussion instruments in class as a learning technique, were eager to perform the songs and recite the poems they rehearsed with their music teacher, Leah Potteiger. According to MS 180 Principal Frank Uzzo "The students loved sharing their new found talent with the seniors. It made the holiday season special for them.”
We are so proud of all our partner school students for immersing themselves in the learning process to prepare for their concerts; their hard work truly shined through in the performances!
Please consider sharing our program with a friend or colleague to ensure that NYC students can continue to have these rewarding experiences through music, which help to build self-confidence and creativity in students.
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