Please read below to find observations from one of ETM’s Brooklyn Partner Schools.
Fourth grade students at P.S. 84, the Jose de Diego School, in Brooklyn can hardly contain their excitement—and knowledge—when their ETM music teacher, David Blumenthal, asks them to identify rhythms. During this opening exercise, Mr. Blumenthal plays a rhythm on either the xylophone or drum and calls on students to identify the rhythm pattern they just heard. Once Mr. Blumenthal finishes the rhythm, students’ hands quickly jolt into the air; in the hopes of being selected the students fidget in their seats and a soft chorus of “Ooo Ooo” “Pick me. I know it!” fill the room.
The students’ exuberance is matched by their intellect. The students confidently approach the SMART® Board and reveal the appropriate notes which form the rhythm played, as in one instance, with “ta ti-ti tika-tika rest-ta.” Some students even refer to the symbols displayed on the board by their formal name, for example “quarter notes.” In this exercise, students are taught to identify and replicate rhythms, review and combine past lessons, and embrace their budding musicality and musical literacy. This interactive exercise serves as a warm-up to today’s real endeavor: the first day of recorders!
Students, with their recorders in rest position on their laps, sit eager to learn. In this lesson, students are taught about proper form when holding the recorder, including finger placement and mouthpiece support. Mr. Blumenthal instructs the class to keep the left thumb over the recorder’s back hole and left index finger over the uppermost hole. Once the students have mastered this critical step they are ready to gently blow into the mouthpiece—producing a B. After some practice, the students play along to a pre-recorded song called “B Great!” It’s clear from the cheers and smiling faces that the students are proud of their new accomplishments.
This observation provides both a glimpse into an ETM classroom and reflects the progress unfolding in all of our new partner schools. To continue to instill the musical skills and knowledge, which improve these students’ general development and academic achievement, ETM needs your continued support.
The recorders used in this class, for example, were funded by this project. Recorders enable students to have a tactile educational experience. This hands-on experience reinforces critical music lessons in an engaging manner. Instructional materials and instrumental supplies allow for a meaningful and participatory exploration into musical concepts—and are therefore a crucial component in the classroom.
Please consider sharing our project success at PS 84 with colleagues who might be interested in making a donation to ensure that these valuable lessons continue. In particular, Mr. Blumenthal would like to add a “world drum set” to the classroom’s inventory, including bongos, congas, tublar drums and djembes, to involve all of his students in the process of creating and replicating rhythms.
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