This year, the focus of our Spring Gala fundraiser was Celebrating The Arts at Stanbridge… and we continue the celebration every day! As the Public Relations Support Intern, Senior Aaron Fong has observed both Music and Visual Art classes during 4th period Bridges Internships. His surveillance gives readers a sense of our comprehensive onsite Arts programming.
Greetings! Music class at Stanbridge Academy allows students K-12 to express their individual emotions, tones, and creativity. Matt Robidoux’s Music class inspires students! It gives them the opportunity to learn how to read music, understand technique, and learn how to play musical instruments such as the drumset. Middle School (MS) is learning how to use hand drums as percussion, as well as understanding the variations of beats while playing a musical instrument. A special guest [Tim Russell, the Dance Department’s Music Director at University of Wisconsin, Madison] visited Stanbridge. The guest demonstrated an instrument that students found very interesting. It’s called the Suitcase Drum. The suitcase drum features a cymbal, a snare, tongos, and a cowbell. Students tried out the sound effects on the suitcase drum, which can be great for kids to try at home. Also, students listened and played along with the beat with the drumkit and the suitcase drum to provide rhythm.
The students transitioned from playing the drums into the instrument of the week. The instrument was called the Mbira. The Mbira was classified by musicologists as an African musical instrument traditional to the people of Zimbabwe. The Mbira consists of a wooden board with a few keys to pluck on, which is a seventeen thumb piano. The Mbira was produced by ethno musicologists, who study music from different cultures all over the world. Students watched a presentation on Google Slides along with a video on Youtube about the Mbira. The Middle School students tried out the Mbira with their thumbs to pluck the keys for major and minor tones.
The Middle School Topaz group I observed learned an interesting word: “Solfege”. Solfege tells the students about the syllables for music notes that can be used for a choir or any other performance -- Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, and Do. Students sing along the Solfege with the assistance of Matt on guitar by using different keys using A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. After playing the Mbira, they learned about a musician named Moondog. Moondog is a person who dressed up as a viking and performed street music. Students sang out a quick song called “Do Your Thing”, a song from Moondog. They were handed out a music sheet to follow along with the lyrics.
Aaron's interview with Matt Robidoux answered additional questions about music classes at Stanbridge Academy.
Q: Why is it important for schools to offer music?
A: I am a supporter of arts curriculum in schools - it helps so much with social/emotional learning, and solidifies mathematical and scientific concepts for students who engage in a musical practice. Music is also great for exercising gross and motor skills.
Q: Why is it important for schools to offer instrument instruction?
A: Learning a musical instrument provides a firm external structure with lots of room for creativity and personal growth. For example, at Stanbridge one can engage in music class in a number of ways depending on which instrument one chooses.
Q: What are the cognitive thinking skills learned through music?
A: Structured study of music has been proven to enhance language-based reasoning, short term memory, and planning skills. I have also seen it help students to learn more about themselves, or “come into their own” if you will.
Q: What courses of study do you need to become a music teacher?
A: Generally someone teaching music in a school has at least a [Bachelor of Arts] in music education and sometimes a teaching certificate. I would also say that teaching music happens in many ways; in community programs, via individual lessons instruction, and in ensemble settings.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
A: Providing students with the tools to understand how music works and eventually be themselves, and engaging in something I am passionate about all day every day. In general, I enjoy being part of this wonderful Stanbridge community!