Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Smashing Success- A Story of Cross-Generational Collaboration

Here I am, finally getting back to posting about my own stuff, instead of just linking up! I had an absolutely wonderful day of teaching yesterday, and I feel the need to share at least part of it with you all. The day started out on such a positive note, and I really hope that some of you get to experience what I did at some point!

Two years ago, I invited my colleague, Bill, and the Chamber Singers (auditioned chorus) from my old high school to come perform for my 4th and 5th graders. At the time, my 5th graders were a really rough group of kids and I was trying to do something, anything, to encourage them to keep music in their lives as they headed off to middle school. Last year, Bill and I tried to make it work, but the dates just didn't work out. This year, however, I am SO glad that we were able to find a date and make this happen!

The HB Woodlawn Chamber Singers performed 3 selections for our 5th grade students, between which Bill explained several aspects of the songs- e.g. the four voice parts of a chorus, the meaning of the poetry in the song. He also encouraged our students to interpret the meaning of the last two selections, and the kids had some incredible and thoughtful insights.

After the high school students performed, they answered some questions. Some were as simple as: "When did you start singing?" or "Do you sing or play instruments outside of school?" However, some questions were more thought-provoking, such as: "If you could modify an instrument or make your own new instrument, what would do?" The Q&A was casual, laid back, and the high school kids really gave some great answers, especially when my principal posed the question, "What advice would you give someone who is about to make the transition into middle school?"

The best part came when Bill had the high schoolers teach a simple 3-part song to our 5th graders. The boys got to work with all of the tenors and basses, and the girls split up to work with the sopranos and altos. It was so cool to see them perform together and the 5th graders were clearly in awe of the high school students who were working with them. Below you can see Bill conducting the song with the boys in the back and girls in the front.

At the end of our hour together, the 5th graders performed a song from last week's Winter Concert- Here Comes the Snow. Overall, the experience was incredibly positive and I really hope that it stays with my students for years to come as they decide whether or not to continue with music in their lives. 

I am truly grateful to Bill and the HBW Chamber Singers for sharing their time and music with us yesterday. It was a wonderful experience, and if you haven't communicated with the middle school or high school choral directors in your district to see if you can make this happen at your school- it is such a valuable experience!

Have a wonderful Saturday night, everyone!
~Ms. Patrician

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