The art of making music
It was no ordinary class; it was no typical assignment.
That was the situation Melissa Dennedy found herself in the week of February 18. The Loveland Intermediate School (LIS) band director and music teacher and Loveland Middle School (LMS) assistant band director was preparing for 20 LIS sixth graders who needed instruction in music, but they were coming to her with a variety of backgrounds.
“Some of the kids had studied strings, others choir and still others band,” explained Dennedy. “This is a unique situation, because this is an end-of-day rotating class for Loveland sixth grade students; we are teaching the students who are not involved in intervention courses.”
Dennedy consulted with fellow teachers Jill Stagg and Rachel Bierkan to form a plan. The trio designed a creation course; students were assigned to transform common household items into functioning musical instruments.
“I gave this special course the green light from the beginning,” said Garth Carlier, LIS principal. “This is the type of problem-solving instructional environment we want to create for our students, and this rotating class seemed to be the right opportunity to try it out.”
“When I first told the students what we were doing, I felt like some of them were apprehensive,” said Dennedy. “They were nervous they would fail; I told them to let their imaginations run wild. By day two, they jumped right in and were designing in teams.”
By day three of the project a garden hose turned into a trombone, a PVC pipe became a horn, Styrofoam cups, paint roller pans, buckets, a Frisbee, a few buttons, some rice and lots of Duct tape all turned into a band. The students composed the music and performed together.
“The performance was outstanding,” said Dennedy. “The class learned both life lessons – teamwork, perseverance and creativity – along with math, science and music. I believed in their ability to create, and, in the end, they did too.”
Dennedy said she will teach the recycled music instrument class again at the end of the year.
Photo caption: LIS sixth grade student Sarah Klenke plays the garden hose trombone.