Welcome to our Fall 2011 Portfolio chronicling MusicLaunch at the Wang YMCA of Chinatown!
Pictures from MusicLaunch classes, December 2011
Portfolio created by the MusicLaunch Team:
Andrew Gushiken, M.M., Site Coordinator & NEC CE Faculty
Devin Ulibarri, MIE Concentration Candidate & NEC CE Faculty
Johnny MacInnes, M.Ed, Boston Teachers Union School & NEC CE Faculty
Randy Wong, Ed.M, Program Manager & NEC College/CE Faculty
Pui Duangpon, NEC Continuing Ed
Juhye Lee, NEC College
Angela Tang, YMCA Program Coordinator
Leslie Foley, Dean & Executive Director, NEC Preparatory and Continuing Education
Sean Hagon & Dan Schmunk, NEC School for Continuing Education
Dr. Larry Scripp, NEC Music-in-Education Department Chair
Goals and Inquiry Questions
- Every child learns to play, sing, and read music
- Curriculum and teaching methods cross cultural and ethnic boundaries
- To create a culture of music learning that students share with their families and take with them, beyond Saturdays
- Nurturing children’s curiosity through composition, improvisation, reflection, and inquiry
- How do children find and develop their voices as emergent music learners? What roles do teachers play in this development?
- How do MIE philosophies translate to MusicLaunch priorities? What do YMCA goals look like in the context of a music-in-education community program?
- How does MusicLaunch influence a child’s long-term growth?
- How can we design MusicLaunch so that it is transformative for both students and teachers, regardless of past musical or instructional experience?
(Taken from document "NEC MusicLaunch Retreat", drafted by Randy Wong on August 7th, 2011, and amended October 10, 2011)
Program Statistics & Model:
Current faculty – 2
Current students enrolled – 16
The Wang YMCA provides the facilities and community contacts, and we provide the curriculum and instruction.
Students with demonstrated financial need within the Boston Public Schools system are eligible for a registration and membership discounts. Eventually, we hope to be able to raise enough funding so that the program can be tuition-free.
Our hope is to also grow the program enough to serve three purposes:
- to form a band, chorus, string orchestra and/or other ensemble program at the Y to serve that segment of the Boston community, which will also support the work of Boston Public Schools arts teachers; and
- to provide a dynamic, interactive teaching lab for our Continuing Ed students who are pursuing MIE Certificates.
- to create a series of faculty-driven, MusicLaunch-integrated concerts that bring a new line of cultural programming to the Chinatown neighborhood
We also plan to begin offering on-site Professional Development workshops for BPS teachers, which would be free-of-charge if we got the funding. An additional idea would be to bring MusicLaunch instructors into BPS to provide in-school MusicLaunch curriculum, with students matriculating either into the main MusicLaunch program at the Y or into NEC Prep.
- — 9:15 Students arrive
- 9:15-9:25 Group Solfege warm-ups
- 9:30-10:00 Instrumental Lessons
- 10:00-10:15 Group Reflective Session
- 10:30-11:15 Staff post-mortem meeting (reflection, to-do items, etc.)
Curricular Goals & Objectives
At MusicLaunch, we believe deeply in aligning our curriculum with the strategic priorities of the Wang YMCA. MusicLaunch’s intention is to create a program that really serves the YMCA families and has a clear connection to the Y’s core values of fitness/health, civic responsibility, and youth development.
From the YMCA of Greater Boston’s website:
What We Do
The Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower people and communities to learn, grow and thrive. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves the nation’s health and well-being and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors.
How We Do It
- The Y is community centered. For more than 150 years, we’ve been listening and responding to our communities.
- The Y brings people together. We connect people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gaps in community needs.
- The Y nurtures potential. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
- The Y mobilizes local communities to effect lasting, meaningful change.
The Y is, and always will be, dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. Every day our impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a mentor inspires a child and when a community comes together for the common good.
Designing Student-Centric Curricula That Challenges Cognitive, Affectual, and Psychomotor Learning
- discern discrete pitches,
- match them vocally or instrumentally, and
- describe, perceive, and reflect on their differences horizontally (contour, shape) and vertically (pitch, articulation, dynamic, timbre)
While much of our activities were performance-based, we also felt it necessary have students demonstrate their pitch awareness reflectively; notating what they heard graphically. A few examples of this can be seen below:
Graphic Diagram of La-Si-Do-Re Song, Transcribed by Jason on 12/03/2011
Vignette: Introducing "Musical Building Blocks"
by Andrew Gushiken
Here at MusicLaunch we are faced with many exciting challenges and look forward to continually meeting these challenges with creative solutions that stimulate our creative capacities and help us as interns and instructors to grow.
One challenge we face is that from the start we want MusicLaunch to be first and foremost about teaching the art of music. By this we don’t mean teaching students how to cover holes on the recorder and read sheet music. We want our students to learn how to be expressive, how to listen with an expert ear, and learn to feel the beat coursing through their bodies. In effect, we are mimicking the way babies learn to speak. Think of how choppy grade school students make the english language when reading aloud. Now imagine if that is how english were always taught! The only problem with this, of course, is that we are teaching without the aid of western notation.
A favorite entry point for the kids is something we call Musical Building Blocks. (The activity is derived from one we did last semester using blocks, but nowadays we can use just about anything. The kids recognize the activity as one that builds toward something.)
For these two examples, we use the blocks to help us portray song form. Each block represents on a fragment of a song much like how a puzzle piece is a part of a much larger image; multiples of the same block have the same meaning.
Students E. and L.
E. and L. are twins who have lived in America for only a matter of months. They are still in preschool and have limited English skills (however incredible German skills!). I fear some days E is actually able to outsmart his teachers! Getting back on topic, we wanted to teach E and L some english, so we decided musical building blocks would be a great way to teach rhythm, symbol recognition and english at the same time.
So, for this activity I brought in fruits. After giving me their names in German, they learned the names in english. Then, I attempted to engage all their senses. I had them touch, smell, and in the case of the strawberries, eventually eat the fruits to give as strong of a memory to these newly learned words.
In our version of the building block game, I assigned specific rhythms to each fruit. Limes were a quarter note, lemons were two eighth notes (le-mon), strawberries were an eighth followed by two sixteenths (straw–ber-ry), which we all learned through the mother tongue method (i.e. Kids, repeat after me!). Student E (as well as the rest of us) thought it’d be funny if he switch lemons for limes and vice versa. Music-in-Education Director Larry Scripp would’ve pointed out that it takes creativity and mastery of an activity to deliberately incorrectly execute in the same way every time.After learning our initial fruit “composition”, we took it a step further. We clapped the rhythms. Then we got up and clapped while marching. Finally, we unleashed Eric the mad scientist to do his worst and make his own compositions much like Students K and W with the lego blocks.
Through this lesson both and Students E and L demonstrated full mastery of the material and were able to fluidly execute the rhythms in a natural, uncontrived manner.
In the same way the Lime/Lemon/Strawberry was designed as a Music Plus english integrative activity, so was the Pie/Apple/Blueberry musical building block game. While waiting for her father to finish a discussion with one of our staff instructors, MI noticed the sketches drawn by Devin’s wife Chie Yasuda and immediately recognized its’ purpose from previous group sessions. That in itself is quite impressive.
MI took it upon herself to make her own game. Often times it’s hard to get kids to buy into our activities, and here is MI, fully engaged!
MI laid the sketches out and made a pattern. She then executed her “composition” by walking around the table and reciting the names of the images as she passed and touched each sketch. Then, Devin joined in and performed MI’s composition in canon!!!
In each of these examples the juiciest part of the activity was when we, the instructors relinquished control in a constructed environment. We set the manner in which they could manipulate the situation and let them loose. This freedom without fail has encouraged creativity and has resulted in full engagement. In the case of Eric and Wesley, some of our kids will go to great lengths to try and stump the class and teachers!
Vignette: Musical Building Blocks for Rhythm and Pitch
by Devin Ulibarri
The video below is a peek into one of our first explorations of using ‘Multiple Representations’ to teach musical concepts at the YMCA in Chinatown. The video shows intern, Pui, taking the lead in demonstrating rhythmic concepts, numeric pitch identification and solfege using Lego blocks that we found in the classroom at the YMCA. The students were surprised by this use of the Lego blocks initially, but caught on quickly.
At the beginning of the video is the initial introduction of rhythmic concepts. One sees intern MusicLaunch intern, Pui, pointing to a block and together with intern Devin Ulibarri demonstrating the desired action – in this case, clapping according to the size of the blocks. The clapping patterns were introduced separately (1,2 and 3 beats), but were combined to create an 8 beat pattern consisting of three of the smaller patterns. The students were then asked to manipulate the blocks in order to come up with their own structures. For example at 0’53” in the video, one observes Kayla’s pattern (2+1+3) and then her brother changing the pattern (2+3+1). This moment is important because it empowers the student and demonstrates that musical concepts can be mastered and manipulated – it develops their creativity.
At 4’22” into the video, one can see the culmination of the entire lesson. In this final review, Pui asks students to identify the solfege names of the notes by hinting at the numeric name. Pui asks the class what the second pitch in the scale is to which a student answers, “Re”. Pui then asks the class to answer using pitch to which the class accurately sings the intended pitches that she is identifying using her fingers (numeric name). At the end of the review, Pui tests the students mastery by asking them to skip “Re” and accurately sing “Mi” from “Do” – the students have some difficulty doing this, but this is their first time and subsequent videos will reveal their progress.
The video ends with quick demonstrations of other types of multiple representations that we have used in the break off sections of MusicLaunch. Future blog posts will keep you posted on the significance of these other forms of multiple representations and how they have helped the development of the students in MusicLaunch at the YMCA in Chinatown.
(This article was first written for the MIE Blog. Click here to read it and comment on the MIE Blog.)
What are ways that we can involve parents in active listening and musical analysis?
This video shows a particularly involved day for parents. (Taken on December 3rd, 2011 at MusicLaunch by JuHye Lee)
Typically in a classroom, parents would sit by themselves while the learning happened separately between teachers and students. Students and teachers benefit from the experience, but parents are left with little benefit and the result outside of class is that parents and their children are unable to have a meaningful conversation about what happened in class.
At MusicLaunch, we are trying to engage parents in a fun way so that when everyone goes home they can talk about music in a meaningful way.
A rough diagram of parent, teacher, student interactions and how that translates outside of class. (Devin Ulibarri 12/20/2011)
As stated in the "Overarching Goals", we are working to create a culture of music learning that students share with their families and take with them, beyond Saturdays. However, this is not a simple task – students and parents have a myriad of things that could distract them between the weekends that threaten the Saturday learning environment. Also, putting pressure on parents to facilitate their children’s practice time may fall short of its goals.
For MusicLaunch, we would rather not burden parents with homework – so we racked our brains for a way to engage parents in a way that they could easily respond to. This engagement, we are proposing, will create a common experience that all the family members can talk about in the car or at the dinner table, which creates more continuity for the students outside of the classroom and gets the family involved.
Our lesson plan involved watching various YouTube videos that used unique representations of the music that followed their own logic however unconventional. A series of questions were composed about the relationship of the representation to the music for students and parents to answer, which became discussion. The entire family was involved in critical thinking, dialogue, cognitive development in a safe and fun environment.
How do we encourage and utilize our diversity in the classroom?
With a diversity of us, we feel comfortable to link many lesson with our students who also come from different countries and cultures. With that paradigm, we don’t hesitate to adapt some lesson with cultural topic; singing and playing German folk song "Winter Ade", La Si Do Re song which is also a European folk song, so that students can appreciate music, give more value and respectful to music from another cultures that they are not familiar with.
Below is an example video of our La Si Do Re song, also known as the Israeli folksong Hashivenu. With Pui’s teaching style, all students are able to sing this song in solfege name before playing song. After learning the song both in solfege and on the recorder, Pui taught them to play in canon.
Above is a clip to a performance of the "La-Ti-Do-Re song" (translation of original title is "Peace on Earth"), which is a well known song from Israel and was a focus in this year’s class.
Two girls play La Si Do Re in Canon before adding variations that really help student learn to be creative and productive as it’s a kind of improvisation as well. Right now, students at Music Lunch can play this song in Canon. The next step is improvising with another another accompaniment.
Who are the teachers?
Our Interns are from diverse backgrounds and they maintain deep relationships with many different cultures. This is important because the students that come to the YMCA in Chinatown are also from a variety of backgrounds. We celebrate the things that make us unique and search to create an atmosphere where we can learn from our diversity.
The following videos will give you a glimpse into how varied the backgrounds of our faculty are. Please click and watch our performances.
Pui – Click on the link to see Pui’s performance at the "Asian Music and Culture Festival" at Berklee College of Music
Devin – Click on the link to see Devin’s performance with Alyssa Griggs (flute) at the "Japan Benefit Concert" at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory
Juhye – Click on the link to hear Juhye’s arrangement of Psalm 23 performed by the church chamber group Dwelln at the Korean Community Church
Andrew – Click here to see a video about NEC’s brass department (See 0’43" for Andrew)
Collage of students from MusicLaunch’s 2011–2012 season. Image created 12/21/2011 by Devin Ulibarri.
Initial Student Profiles
We thought it would work well to write a few basic profiles of each student so that we can easily see their growth from the beginning of the program. We had planned to individually test each student for basic singing skills (such as pitch, rhythm, and expressivity) but that plan fell through — maybe next semester? Names have been ‘anonymized’ for privacy purposes.
MusicLaunch as an education lab; a place to practice & hone teaching skills!
MusicLaunch is a great laboratory to take things we learn from MIE classes and put them into play. One good example of this is with Student Assessment.
Both the MIE Teaching Seminar (MIE 511) and the Art & Science of Assessing Music Learning (MIE 525) discuss different methods we can use to tell what and how our students learn. In other words, how effective is our teaching? What do students take-away from it? How can we measure growth and development of musical skills?
Having an actual class of kids with different personalities, learning styles, and musical backgrounds really helps us to see this for real. When the year started, one of our first questions was, "where do we start with these kids?"
Randy suggested we conduct some pre-tests with our students so that we could get an initial ‘temperature’ on how the kids sing. Instead of just arbitrarily scoring them on a scale of 1 to 10, Randy challenged us to create a rubric that would asses singing ability in relation to the students’ understanding of pitch, rhythm, and expressivity. He started to design a rubric for us that connects skill development with self-sufficiency and sophistication. It was up to us to finish up the rubric and then apply it in our work.
Here’s Randy’s draft of the rubric:
We decided to use the Israeli folk song Hashivenu (more on that here) as the common melody on which to base our comparisons. (Hashivenu was one of the first songs we taught the kids, and it is a melody that they all learned in class, having no prior knowledge or experience with it). Using videos from the class, we scored according to our Singing Ability Rubric. While at first it took us a little while to dial-in and agree on students’ abilities, we eventually came to a scoring consensus — Randy advised us that, while we can have different opinions, we have to be able to agree within 0.5 points; otherwise, the scoring system would not be reliable.
Additional Teacher Prep
This picture was taken on 12/3/2011, during an Thursday intern meeting to reflect on the previous class and prepare for the following classes
- Thursday Meetings
Interns meet every Thursday with Randy to prepare for the upcoming MusicLaunch class. We plan for the next class and discuss it. Sometimes we would do mock lessons where the teachers would simulate the situation by one person pretending to teach, while the rest of us would play the role of students. We would then share our thoughts and get some ideas for teaching during the meeting, so we could be better prepared in the actual classroom environment.
- Coffee Session
Interns have a coffee session after MusicLaunch class on Saturdays. This is our time to reflect and share our thoughts on the day’s teaching, our observations of our students and their development. We also gave each other constructive comments on how we could improve the teaching environment. The purpose of the coffee session is similar to Thursday meeting in that we would like to find the better way for teaching.
Our Future Goals, Challenges for the Program
- Administer singing post-test
- Have a public concert
- Find the balance between continual staff changes, a dynamic curriculum, and fluctuating enrollment
- Faculty concerts and guest artist concert series
- MusicLaunch Songbook that unifies all program curriculum
- Small ensemble program (middle school winds & chorus)
- Published case studies
- Sustainable funding model is achieved
- Scout for another location — perhaps Somerville?
- Summer Day Camp
- Holiday / Seasonal Programming
- Instrument building class
- Sponsorships by local businesses