MEANYC member, Graham Johnson, presented ”Afro-Latin Rhythms in Band and General Music” at NYU on March 16th, 2019. Sharon Burch presented “Swing into Spring with Stories, Games, and Jazz for Kids (that anyone can do!)” on April 6th, 2019 at NYU.
On Saturday March 16th I attended Graham Johnson’s session on Afro-Latin Rhythms in Band and General Music at NYU. The PD began as many music PDs do. With by music making! Graham introduced the group to the rhythmic vocabulary from Cha-Cha-Cha music and we dove right in. Throughout the session, Graham led us on a discovery of the rhythmic vocabulary from a large number of music styles by tracing their evolution and shared relationships of rhythms through time, tempo and style. Throughout the session we covered cha-cha-cha, salsa, bossa nova, samba, swing, 6/8 bembe, bolero, bachata and merengue, playing along to a number of songs in these styles. By the end of the session, we had gone through more than enough content to keep my 6th graders (and me!) busy for the year!
Each year, I begin with my incoming 6th graders by exploring the fundamentals of rhythm through a world drumming unit. We often barely scratch the surface of many styles and I’m excited to put these new tools, songs and rhythms to use in the coming year. And to expand my comfort teaching these styles. Not only are they a natural extension from the work we are already doing, but the music reflects the cultures of many of my students from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
by Samantha Bosch
This was such an inspiring workshop in several ways. I am very glad I made it (after fighting with my exhaustion as a mom)! First, Ms. Burch’s method of teaching with a puppet, in her case with Freddie the Frog, was intriguing. It was something new to me personally, and I believe that Ms. Burch did a good job convincing the attendees that using an object is an excellent way to boost engagement among young learners. In doing so, she shared the details of how she successfully used this method in her classroom. She also introduced a series of stories and materials that she developed through the years, using Freddie the Frog as a character, some of which were given to the attendees as gifts at the end of the session.
Another topic Ms. Burch touched on is teaching jazz, with a majority of time spent on scat singing. I am a classically trained musician who falls into a group of nervous musicians when it comes to jazz and improvisation. Ms. Burch not only did an excellent job guiding the attendees through a step-by-step process on scat singing, but also consistently reminded us of how we, teachers, should consider students’ anxiety to perform. She did not only throw out that idea, but also modeled the consideration throughout her presentation.
Through the entire workshop, which lasted for four hours, Ms. Burch completely immersed herself in teaching and sharing ideas, and I have no doubt that all of the attendees felt the same way. Ms. Burch also did an exceptionally amazing job breaking her ideas into small steps that are readily usable in our classrooms. I was particularly very impressed with her ability to break down the ideas to small steps with attention to details, expected challenges, and possible modifications. These detailed ideas were very much appreciated, as I feel they were often missing in many PD sessions that I attended in the past.
As I continue my journey as a full-time music teacher, it has become evident that I learn so much from great PDs like this, as well as from interactions with other teachers. I am grateful for this inspiring workshop by Ms. Burch and for MEANYC to bring it to many of the teachers who gathered on a Saturday morning to learn more and teach better in their classrooms.
by JaEun Claire Sable