Performing Artists in Schools
Fall 2018

Each week I went to class looking forward to our intimate discussion based lesson. With only six people in the class, we all had to participate and be creative when talking about education and performance. Performing Artists in Schools taught me how to program/create high-quality performance programs that meet educational and objective goals. I learned how to be a Teaching Artist and how it can help me form my career with education-based performance.

Mr. Burdick encouraged us to do something meaningful each week → and strand a memento of that week → a journal entry, or a program, or a few words (so keep artifacts each week) → take class notes, and then add another two sentences after it (to plant a flag to your experience)

By doing this I was able to reflect on my experiences and keep a new type of journal/diary. I realized that repetition is key and I learned a lot about impactful programing techniques.

Here are pictures of my performing in the Musical Storytelling Fellowship with NEC’s Community Performance and Partnership Office. These performances are incredibly fulfilling and impactful.

reaching a younger generation

During the beginning of the semester we spent the first few weeks studying Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall.

We watched segments of Bernstein’s 1958 “What makes music American?” 

  • Main message = music makes us feel something, your countries music makes you feel something, that it belongs to you, and you belong to it
  • I thought the program was great for children as we try to find our identity, and many times when we grow up we want to be the same, but this helps children love their individuality.
  • Refer to videos here:
  • refer to script here: “What makes American Music?” Script

I chose my own Bernstein Young People’s Concerts to Analyze, “What is Classical Music?”

  • The over-arching program theme is to explain that classical music is a musical form from the 18th c, and is incorrectly used by many people. Bernstein explained that classical music is widely misrepresented and what truly makes it different than other types of music is that it is “exact” music. Everything is written down exactly how the composer wants the piece to be played (instruments, tempo, key, dynamic, etc.). There is still some artistic freedom, making every performance unique, but there is truly only one way to play it. The sub themes that Bernstein discusses are the differences between classical (“exact”) music and jazz/popular genres. He demonstrates different ways of playing a popular tune, and how all these interpretations are correct, which does not happen in classical music. He then specifically dives into what “exact” music is and compares its perfect form and balance (Bach) with romantic music to show its true difference.
  • I thought the event was great for all ages, I even learned quite a bit. The variety of the program is very helpful to keep the audiences attention, and Bernstein does a great job explaining everything and putting it in simpler terms. The only thing I find confusing is that I understand he was trying to say that classical music is actually from a specific time period, but even today we call all the music we study in the Classical Department at NEC “classical music”, even if it isn’t from the 18thc. So, I still am confused on what classical music really is.
  • Here is a link of the script with time analysis: Julia_Cohen_YPC_Timing_Script_ (1)
  • Here is a link of my responses: Julia_Cohen_YPC_Responces_ (1)
  • Refer to videos here:
  • refer to script here: “What is Classical Music?” Script

I was inspired by my learnings through this analysis project and based on this concert I created my own script/video, “What is Classical Singing” –> refer to “Teaching Artist” Tab

Young Audiences 

I learned about being a Teaching Artist through Young Audiences. My fascination with this idea sparked me to apply for a grant that would help me create promotional materials to apply for this website. I won my Hear Us! grant, which is a Concert/Lecture Series on Women Composers that I am touring this Spring in Boston at educational venues.

  • Be human, stand 3 feet from audience → be a person with normal emotions
  • When you are doing music with kids → create “listen for” moments, instead of “listen to this”, do listen “for this moment”
  • Back and forth with audience

This is my “What is Classical Voice?” Script/Video

Hurley Elementary School

We have been preparing for our own program as a class. I helped coordinate the program with Hurley Elementary School in Boston because I am the CPP Intern at NEC and help with outreach Boston Community Events.

To prepare for the program we read the book Make Money Performing in Schools by David Heflick. The book provided me with a lot of important information since I want to be a teaching artist. I will continue using it as a resource for my future endeavors.

These are important aspects to help plan our program:

When making a program:

  • How old is the audience?
  • how much time do we have?
  • ask teachers about kid management and really anything you can before
  • secure signs (two fingers up, or clapping) → model how you want them to be (can do that with how you speak)
  • check in at office when going to a school (page 96)
  • a sense of the schedule, how it should end, ask what they are doing after so you can set them up for that (teachers will appreciate that)
  • rehearse being quiet (time it like a competition)
  • bullet points, page 103 → every question asked should be able to be answered by kids raising their hands
  • keep teachers in eye contact → like a flicker
  • be thoughtful about the type of participation that you want
  • if you want to pull someone out of the audience, ask the teacher ahead of time
  • sometimes you do a program and you prepare a short segment with kids beforehand
  • give them positive feedback “you guys are being a really great audience today”
  • when you are getting to the end, let them know “we are going to do one more thing before we go back to ____ classroom. So we will do this thing, applaud ourselves and then you will go back to class”.

At Hurley we had 45 minutes to create a program for 4th and 5th graders for an after school program. Since we did our program in December we made it Holiday themed.

Basic Script:

  1. Start – Holiday song
  2. Intro, we’re from NEC, we’re musicians, etc
  3. Christmas Rhythm games – work with a handful of holiday tunes. Sing tunes with kids, get them clapping the opening rhythmic motive of the tune while singing it.
  4. then written rhythm materials, written out motives (printed on large paper)
  5. Music to Story (like CPP Musical Storytelling) – The Night Before Christmas story presentation — read with music cue’s interspersed
  6. After story, do a short sing along to close the program – one, two or three songs
  7. Questions?

We followed this basic format when performing. It was successful, however, we catered the program for younger children so we had to adapt on the spot to keep it engaging. We had extra time, and since the children were good with basic music knowledge, we had a volunteer come up and share a rhythm that the class could guess. It is amazing how interaction is so important

We tried to get very close, and when we weren’t within a few feet of them their attention would scatter. It was amazing to be in this environment and experience this style of programming. Due to my Music Together Internship, I have learned to adapt to situations quicker and understand ages better.

This semester I was TA for Lee Ann’s Music Together class at Russell J. Call Children’s Center. Each Music Together Program Curriculum lasts a semester and we will be working to enhance this particular program. Lee Ann has very little prior music training, and I helped her piece together the gaps that she could not explain to the children. I shadowed her each week and helped lead the activities and learned from her vast experience of teaching/understanding children’s needs. Our collaboration was mutually beneficial in my understanding of children’s developmental abilities, and her understanding of basic music terminology for the future.

This internship taught me to better understand the different learning abilities of 3-5 year olds and how music can be successfully integrated in their education curriculum. It is a great program that helps keep music alive and as a tool for teaching and learning.

I learned methods of teaching and controlling a classroom. I learned how to simplify my musical knowledge to teach such young children, which helped me understand my art form better.

Lee Ann wants me to continue with her next semester. I love doing this, and might if I can fit it in my schedule. However, even if I don’t I definitely want to get trained in Music Together. I am not sure where I will be next year, or what exactly I will be doing, but I do want to make money through music, and I know this gives me that option while also spending time with children, which I love to do. Every time I leave the internship I have a smile on my face, as I know this program makes a true difference to the children that will impact their lives.

I originally wrote a paper regarding the internship, in order to gaze my success:

What outcomes would make you consider this internship successful?

I will find the internship successful if I see the children learning and growing from week to week. If they are finding joy in my contribution, I will find that I have made an impact in their education and in music, as I still remember my artistic teachers growing up and the impact they had on my creativity.

I achieved my goals. It was amazing to see how much kids remember. The more I went to the class, the more comfortable they were with me. The Music Together program lasted about a half an hour and consisted of eight songs. Toward the end of my internship I was teaching one of the songs. 

Here is a video that I would send to Lee Ann before the class of my movements to Hine ma tov. I had very simple movements since the song was standing up, but the kids loved it! Especially the moving into the circle and back out. Since this is a Jewish culture base song, the movements I created are traditional to the culture: 

Here is another video of me doing movements but sitting down. Sitting down is helpful for eye contact. Changing levels in one song can be too confusing:


  1. I hope to understand the developmental differences of children between the ages of 3-5 years old.
  2. Share my musical knowledge to help the future growth and success of Music Together at Russell J. Call Children’s Center.
  3. I would like the children to understand basic musical/theory knowledge around the curriculum we are studying.

1. I feel much more confident around children in a learning environment and can now control a room more successfully, even with mix ages.

2. The students realized that I studied music all day and were fascinated by my voice. I exposed them to something different and new. I helped Lee Ann understand the curriculum better so that she can further the success and growth of her program.

3. This was a harder goal, since the Music Together Program doesn’t quite involve this. However, I helped Lee Ann accomplish the beginning of this goal for herself. 

It took about four times for the students to be comfortable with me, and then they all began to recognize me and hug me.

How to lead a song:

  1. movement vs. instrument 
  2. if movement, refer to book
  3. if movement choose standing or sitting
  4. if movement use a lot of repetition 
  5. if movement make a lot of eye contact 
  6. record song and send song to Lee Ann for approval 

I kept a weekly journal and wrote about my most significant experiences: Journal Music Together

During the semester I wrote three reflections and Josh Gilbert commented on them, offering feedback to help further enrich my experience.

Reflection #1 with corrections: Julia Cohen Internship Reflection 1 JG (1) . The main aspect of my internship that I needed to focus on was documentation. I decided that I would document through:

  • Online journaling
  • Videos of me preparing my songs
  • pictures from sessions with Lee Ann
  • I was not allowed to take photos of Music Together for privacy reasons with the children

This article is about child development and psychology: Singer & Reenson 1996 - How a Child Thinks

Reflection #2 with corrections: Julia Cohen MIE Reflection #2 Internship 1 JG . The main aspect of my internship that I needed to focus on was specificity in teaching.

Here is the guideline of a Music Together Program:

Here is a method of teaching of Solfege to Note Names to Number that I used with Lee Ann:

Reflection #3 with corrections: Julia Cohen MIE Reflection #3 Internship 1 JG . The main aspect of my internship that I needed to focus on was explaining my growth through developmental theories that I have studied in Music in Education Classes.

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