We use the letters MSLC to represent our middle school learning commons, and our middle school learning community. It was all about the community in our first ever, middle school concert.
This fall, we undertook an ambitious program. Every student in middle school would join the chorus, instrument ensemble or both, and students not in both, would have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument in a group lesson.
We celebrate both “process” and “product” in our school. With music in schools, the product– a performance– can hide all that led up to it. It is important to celebrate and shine a light on all the commitment, care and concentration that leads up to enough proficiency for a performance, though. Because we focus, intently, on learning in community, it was possible for us to make the somewhat “risky” endeavor of playing and singing in front of an audience possible– even for students who have only studied music since September.
To do this, our concert was a bit of a timeline. We opened with a PDS tradition– West African drumming, an art that is traditionally taught, as ours is, by having novice drummers play together with master drummers.
From there, our program moved on to spotlight the students who were in group lessons. We heard keyboard players, guitars, saxophones, flutes, clarinets and strings. Every contribution was acknowledged, and the students performed in groups, as they had learned, allowing them to support each other. Music teachers were always near and helped keep rhythm or played along.
The last part of our program was to hear the chorus and instrument ensembles– a small guitar ensemble and the full instrument ensemble. These were the students’ polished pieces– the same students who had played and shared their early learning on other instruments, in the first part of the program.
Music, of one form or another, is pervasive in humanity. One could argue that it is more pervasive, even, than written word. Music should rise up, then, as an essential literacy. We believe that students learn best by doing, by being active makers. Our concert enabled them to be all this and not only let us hear the students’ music, but also celebrate their active participation, courage and community.
Bravo to all!
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