when the outside approves.

On Friday, I was off and away at the MMEA conference in Baltimore to practice some good old music nerd professional development. I truly enjoyed singing and dancing at 8am with Paul Cribari, a fun little colonial session with Dr. Marian Schultz of Fairfax, and a little Kenya with Tim Gregory. It was great to be with “my people” who sing, dance, and play the recorder and no one looks at you funny. Plus, you can create an amazing Orff piece in about 5 minutes….but…..

It was in coming back to my classes today and speaking with my fabulous sub that I gained perspective on some of the work the kids are doing (I’m merely their facilitator) this year. My 7th grade “Music with Ordinary Objects” class has just been sparklingly wonderful. They have created group projects in body percussion, household items, reading from a score, and using multiple timbres. They are currently working on a “solo percussion project” to finish the trimester. They spend each of their classes preparing a piece of music in ABACA form using our ordinary object instruments. They are serious about this project and they are working so hard. Which means…they are LOUD. We have to take “decibel breaks” of silence to protect our ears in our little room. Yet, I am amazed at their tenacity in working with rhythms and timbre. Ah how they are creating.

The perspective was gleaned from listening to my sub respond with joy in how the children are working. They respect each other’s work and space. They treat the ordinary object instruments with great care. They are taking amazing pride in their solo works. This is all a teacher could ask for; students creating, working hard, and generally needing only a reassuring look or word that they are on the right track.

Some of the traditionalists with whom I workshopped last weekend might look at our work as “noise” or useless in a musicians world. But I am thoroughly moved by the problem solving, creativity, and delight that the students are gaining through their work.

To hear it from “outside” the music room; this is priceless.

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