10/29/09 Post-Class Assessment #1: Success!
NewsBlog Editorâ€™s Note: This is the second post in a semester-long series by Jenny Giardina, a new CMIE Guided Intern working as Teaching Artist and Documentation Specialist for her internship at the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston, MA.Â Our thanks to JQUS music teacher Laura Bouix for hosting Jennyâ€™s guided internship.
I was anxious last Friday as the first class walked in and found their seats; I know from first-hand experience (as we all do) that junior high and high school students have a way of completely rejecting any idea that doesn’t immediately impress them. I wondered if they’d give my approach a chance and, fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.
The composition exercise with the high schoolers was challenging; composition is never simple, regardless of who you are. Composition that requires an original approach to notation involves creativity that takes some time and a lot of thought. The class worked diligently the entire period and I let them continue past the point I had planned. I could see that what I had presented to them was going to take more time that I had thought, which is a great learning experience for me.
Some of the groups’ approaches to creative notation were more intuitive than others. We found out that assigning a line to an instrument and layering the parts (as you’d see in a full score) was a more clear spatial representation and allowed the second group of performers to better understand the original composition.
Some groups were missing students due to absence, which made the assignment a little more challenging for those who had to try to remember what their classmates had done the previous week.
We’ll continue this project on another day, and I think it’ll be much simpler the second time around now that everyone has a better idea of what it is we’re trying to accomplish. I can’t wait for them to perform!
8th and 7th graders:
When the eighth graders arrived and I began selecting students to come up for the walking/listening exercise, their terror of being singled out and put in front of their peers became painfully obvious. I finally convinced them to come to side of the room by promising them they wouldn’t have to do anything but walk (which I now know should have been the first thing to come out of my mouth). I decided to begin the exercise differently with the seventh graders and asked for volunteers. Almost everyone’s hands flew up and I knew it was going to be a very different experience. Sure enough, they seemed to enjoy the exercise and were equally creative in there “sounds we associate with…” lists. The 7th graders list for sounds you’d hear in a park was very impressive, and it looked something like this:
Sounds we’d hear in a park
- dogs barking
- kids playing/babies crying
- parents calling to their kids
- pigeons/birds chirping
- sizzling hot dogs
- leaves blowing in the wind
- a trickling stream
- basketballs bouncing
We followed with an open discussion about which instruments in the room could best imitate these sounds. After we’d figured it out, they played together and created this particular “soundscape.”
The 7th graders brought interesting sounds, although some were more thought-out than others. The bell rang before we had time to explore the activity any further, but we’ll definitely revisit it soon.
The 8th grade’s final exercise was to break into groups of four or five students and compose a piece based on the lists they made for sounds you’d hear at the ocean, a park, or in a forest. I walked around and listened to them while they worked and contributed when needed to help them get on/back on the right track. I heard some really great collaboration and leadership going on, which was one of my goals! Only one group had time to perform, but we’ll have them do it another time.
All in all, I think the day was a huge success and I’m thrilled to go back in a few days. I’ve completed the lesson plan for this week (think Halloween!) and I’ll be posting it here within the next day or two, so check back! In all of the excitement of the first day I completely forgot my camera, but there will be pictures in the very near future. And, as always, I welcome any questions or comments!