Saturday, November 3, 2012

Residency Part IV: CA to VA

My last week in CA was spent observing VYMA and ICAN in Santa Barbara, which included a meeting with Erik Holmgren about MAT program at a small Christian college. It got me so excited to realize what possibilities universities bring. It also raised an issue that I had seen earlier that day in a job description: the idea of doing El Sistema with a religious institution. The mission aligns, but the objective is different "to do it for the glory of God" vs "to manifest social change and build stronger communities." Of course a Christian university or church is just a space, but aren't we being exclusive or at least prejudice when we host things at a place that is incredibly codified and exclusive even if it is "open to all"? Food for thought. Again, I welcome comments.

Adam, the program director at ICAN, added to Dalouge's "redirecting allocation of resources", the fact of reprioritizing and the added benefit of having the same teacher with the kids consecutive years instead of the mere 9 month period a teacher receives during the school year.

 Santa Barbara was gorgeous as everyone says and I got some great teaching tool ideas as well as getting to see not just a singing class, but an actual choir! I spent my Halloween going for a jog, seeing the Mission, oogling at all the costumes, and then sipping wine, eating hors'd'ouvres on the rooftop of the fancy hotel in town watching the sunset-first and only in CA, pretty sad considering I was there two weeks!) ICAN kids and Thriller dancers perform. Pretty spectacular!

 I then had a long conversation about sustainability with Margaret Martin and using profit group lessons to help pay for the kids who couldn't afford it and at the same time be employing teachers and bringing together communities-reminded me a lot of Tanzania, but again another way I could put Z's Keys back in business...Seems an ingenious idea to me! This field never stops finding new ways to utilize ME as ME.

The flight to get here was literally the worst (and I've flown A LOT!) with four screaming babies, tired, hungry, thirsty Sara, a dead laptop (after working on the San Diego report that is now over 16 pages!), and my first migraine headache ever (that's what I imagine it was anyway as I don't know anything else that is that painful, that pressurized, and that centralized in one location-my left eyebrow bone) but a nice woman from VA gave me some homemade chocolate claiming it would help and upon arrival despite the significant drop in temperature, I was greeted with a warm Rey and seafood dinner to boot!

I'm now in Newport News, VA with Soundscapes.  I love their name and their tag is "Changing how the future sounds." Soundscapes is off the radar, despite the fact they're one of the oldest ES-inspired programs (I think 2nd after Orchkids since Oct 2009) and they launched in under 5 months! I watched every instrument family, choir, and orchestra today along with a delicious Indian lunch and meeting about their brochure, along with helping for a bibliography for a STEM->STEAM (Science Technology Engineering (ARTS) Math) grant for which they're applying from the National Science Foundation, and the open house I am planning taking place next Thurs. The woman I am staying with is a local music teacher and incredibly generous, but I'm thankful to be exploring the more "hip" part of town tomorrow, though I found out I am by the country's second largest park and it is autumn all over again so definitely checking that out! I'm teaching my first-ever strings class on Mon. where we will definitely be working on pizza hand and intonation. It will be a good experience for me, a chance to practice my Lorrie Heagy skills, and a chance for me to assure myself I know enough about strings to do so and get a musical outcome since I have the kids who already know how to play.

They have a unique curriculum here of project-based learning starting by making their own instruments (not just violins but a model from each instrument family! we're making box guitars next week), choir, bucket band where they learn how to read rhythms, recorders, and the paper orchestra. The second year they do children's choir with two/three parts, choose their instrument which they list their three favorites and the teachers choose which instrument best suits them, and begin note reading and playing instruments. The third year performs often, has choir, and orchestra. Lots going on and this is only day one! I will certainly be ready for Boston come next Saturday!

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