|The flute section of Glacier Valley's Morning Musician program rehearse separately for the first month to master skills specific to their instrument|
One reader asked if Glacier Valley still offers its early morning band program for 4th and 5th graders called Morning Musicians. We certainly do and its going strong! Currently we have thirty-five students coming to school twice a week at 7 a.m. to learn how to play the clarinet, trumpet or flute.
Initially funded through a Rasmuson Cultural Collaborations grant, Morning Musicians is now funded through the Juneau School District. For the first month, each section meets with an instructor to learn skills specific to their instrument and then join together in October to begin playing as an ensemble. Many thanks to Bill Paulick from Juneau Brass and Winds, Sharon Denton and Rachel Sielbach for helping me make that first month a successful one.
Fortunately, GAMA (Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association) and its partners, NAMM (International Music Products Association) and MENC (The National Association for Music Education) offer summer guitar workshops every year for music teachers all over the country. As a MENC member, I can take this class for $300 and come away with one-week of guitar lessons geared for teaching in the classroom, a guitar, curriculum materials and 3 graduate credits from Duquesne University. For more information on this incredible opportunity: Get Guitar in Your School!
Learning anything requires practice, which makes meeting only once a week for guitar club a challenge. So how do we get in more practice time as an ensemble? Answer: the Guitar Club became the back-up band for a school performance incorporating folk dance and song to help teach science concepts. The 4th and 5th grades at Glacier Valley were studying the systems of the human body, so the P.E. teacher, music teacher and counselor decided to combine their classes in the gym to help reinforce these science concepts through movement and song.
Doug Eldon's Lyrical Life Science Series uses the melodies of traditional folk songs to teach science. He has four books: Earth Science, Human Body, Plants and Mammals, and I highly recommend them. By adapting the folk dances that the students had learned from the New England Dance Master Series, we were able to combine science, dance, song and guitar all in one!
Did the kids mind the repetition? Not at all. The students enjoyed the physical and social aspect of dance (as well as waiting their turn to sashay down the set) while the guitarists felt a sense of purpose, providing the music for rehearsal, day after day. By the time our school performance came around, guitar chords were habitual and science concepts, ingrained. See for yourself: