On October 20, 2015, I had the pleasure of presenting at a workshop for the music educators in Vermillion Parish entitled, “Creating Composers”. Although this was my first time to present in this parish, I had met several of the teachers before at previous music workshops throughout the state.
I began the workshop with sharing strategies for questioning and assessment. This also included tips for organizing the materials for better management of time. Then, I shared lessons that I had created that allowed for questioning and assessment while developing critical thinking skills through compositions.
One of the activities that I presented was a small group composition project where students were first asked to sing the name of their favorite candy. Next, I assigned the students to groups where the students classified different types of candy according to the rhythm of the syllables. Then, the students selected four types of candy from their list and created an eight beat rhythm pattern. While presenting the lesson, I could see many “light bulb” moments with the teachers. One teacher suggested having actual candy for the kids to use for the compositions. Another teacher thought creating a word bank would be useful for her students. I loved seeing the teachers brainstorming ways to adapt the lesson to meet the needs of their students.
Throughout the presentation, I answered many questions from tips on behavior management to using technology in the classroom. At the same time, I gained a greater perspective on music education practices in Louisiana.
As I drove home, I thought of Barry Manilow’s tune, “I Write the Songs”. We want our students “to put the words and the melodies together” in order to create a “worldwide symphony”.