Every month, I introduce my students to a new composer or genre and for that month, we listen to the music of that composer or genre everyday during snack. Last month, our focus was on Chopin.
Undoubtedly, there are students that make a connection with the music or composers that we listen to, be it Beethoven for his power and popularity or jazz for its emotional drive. Sometimes students make connections with the music they are exposed to in other parts in their life. And sometimes parent-musicians come out of the woodwork.
That’s what happened yesterday when one of my 4th grade boys came to me upon arrival and showed me several piano books his mother shared with him the night before from when she took lessons. He was excited to fan through the books: Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, a collection of Rachmaninoff and Chopin’s Nocturnes. I, catching his enthusiasm, looked with him for a moment, opening a page in the book of Chopin’s works looking for a familiar theme to sing with an operatic air. The kids laughed.
But it wasn’t until later that day, when the kids were cleaning up from snack that I saw the coolest thing: 4th grade boys excited about Chopin’s scores.
“Dude look at these notes. There’s notes on top of other notes. There’s big ones and little ones and this thing… I mean, how do you PLAY that?” Flipping through the pages of a Chopin book of Nocturnes, one boy exclaimed to another and then another one stopped by his desk. I stopped and stared at the scene and smiled… This was awesome! Pure delight, pure amazement!
They were making connections and getting excited!
Then, as if playing air guitar, the boy who brought in the books started followed the notes with his fingers singing the runs of notes.
(That’s when I whipped out my camera!) Seeing this made me certain that bringing musical experiences into the classroom benefits my students.