A Thousand Choices

ribbonsinairThe annual Winter Performance at my elementary school has come and gone.   The floor tape has been pulled up, the ribbon sticks and coconut shells are tucked away in the closet, and the kerchiefs and tee-shirts have been washed and folded.

Every performance is the result of a thousand choices.  What songs should the children sing?  What dances should they perform?  Should the kids stand on the floor or use risers?

Every performance also reflects a set of values.  These values may be conscious or not on the part of the music teacher, but they drive the result.

Here are some values that inform my student performances:

kerchiefs◊  The performance is mainly for the benefit of the children.  It is an age-appropriate experience that allows them to work on some materials to a more polished degree than usual, and to share these activities with their families.

◊  The children get to sit in the audience and see different grades perform.  This allows them to grasp a continuum of learning.

◊  The materials are child-centered, that is, they fit the age and interests of each grade.

◊  The children help to create some part of the performance.  For example, they might help to create dance movements, or an accompaniment pattern on the xylophones, or a new verse to a song.

◊  The children perform with as much independence as possible.

sing&xylos◊  The children learn to move confidently from one activity to the next. My 2nd graders recited poems, played instruments, sang songs and performed dances. We worked not only on each section, but how to move from one section to the next in a seamless way.

◊  Everyone learns all of the parts and only when the performance is near are the parts divided.  If there are solo parts, then everyone in the class gets to try them out.  The solo parts are chosen in a way that feels fair to everyone.

One more thing: children love to dress up.  Even a simple tee-shirt or a kerchief can create a special feeling for the child and a wonderful visual effect for the audience.

Performances are part of every music teacher’s experience.  What are some of the values that underlie your performances?


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