Reflection #3 Oregon Symphony-45th Parallel- David Douglas School District May 15, 2015
1.Resources needed to be successful
The “natural resources” we have at the Oregon Symphony and the 45th Parallel Chamber Ensemble are chiefly the talents of the musicians and conductors and their willingness to share them for education and engagement. All four sections of the orchestra were represented by ensembles, spending entire days and evenings at Gilbert Heights School doing what they do so well. Each ensemble tailored two types of concert presentations – one for the kids at the afternoon concert and one for the families and community at the evening concert. These musicians grasp the importance of laying the groundwork for student learning as well as how to “hook them” into wanting to learn more. All four evening Community Concerts were well-attended, very well received and resulted in great exposure for the Oregon Symphony’s Studio to School project in the David Douglas District.
Twenty-three students at Gilbert Heights Elementary and Alice Ott Middle School received private lessons every other week with 45th Parallel teaching artists from January to April 2015 with 10 string players, increasing the interest and retention rate in the Alice Ott orchestra.
The monetary resources through the OCF grant have allowed us to bring these riches into GHE and AO and that community and to get the word out about our work in the district over the next five years.
This first year was spent introducing the students at GHE to the sections of the orchestra, the instruments, and to the musicians and their personal stories of how they got to the professional level they have attained. All of the students and teachers in Grades 3-5 were treated to a trip to the Schnitzer Concert Hall for the Young People’s Concert “Sounds of Wonder” on March 3rd. They were prepared ahead of time, through visits by our volunteer docent Bob Phillips, by listening to companion CD’s of the music program, and by use of the teacher’s guide to help teachers connect activities with the state standards. We plan on offering the same field trip and preparation activities to grades 3-5 for the 2016 YPC, “Musical Lingo”. Teaching staff attended a rehearsal of Carmina Burana, to get an inside look at the work the musicians they teaming up with do when they are not in the schools and community. This offer will continue throughout the residency and will include the Alice Ott students and teachers next year.
The most impactful events were the classroom visits, the youth and community concerts, the chance for the teachers to personally get to know and work with our musicians. At the middle school level string players got that extra attention and expertise to engage and take them to the next level of their learning to play their instrument and interpret the music. This was a very rich experience for all and we are just getting started!
We used part of our funding to capture all of the visits on video and are in the process of making a short video documentary of the events in DDSD from January to April. We plan on adding to the footage each year, to show the progression and increased music involvement through all 3 levels – Gilbert Heights, Alice Ott MS and David Douglas HS.
2. Most impactful ways funding was used
Year 2 will bring other opportunities for the elementary students to meet the musicians as they prepare to play along with the orchestra in a youth concert designed to bring them into the performance. This concert is through Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute Link Up program which has been going on in NYC for many years and is now being shared with orchestras all over the world. The year-long program of skills-based and creative work in the classroom will culminate in a lively interactive concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, giving students the chance to demonstrate what they have learned by performing with the Oregon Symphony from their seats in the audience. Guided by conductor Paul Kim and concert host Pam Mahon, the hour-long program of music making and “listening challenges” will occur in the April 2016. Narrator, performer and music educator, Pam Mahon, will work with the teachers and students at all 9 elementary schools in the district to help the students prepare to join in on the performance with the Oregon Symphony orchestra in April 2016.
The private lessons will either increase from twice monthly to weekly or the numbers receiving those lessons will be doubled, depending on the needs and wants of the AO orchestra students and staff.
3. Lessons learned and proposed use of funding in year 2
After planning with and getting to know the teachers and administrative staff at the GHE, it became clear that the professional development teacher and teaching artist workshop aspect of our proposal was not a priority or even practical for the work we did in year 1. The classroom teachers are quick to incorporate music into their curriculum and have the support of their 1.5 FTE music specialists. The entire GHE staff participated in a half-day workshop with principal percussionist and arts consultant, Niel DePonte, involved with deeper learning through the use of his “Instant Composer” technique. Due to district-wide testing conflicts, we chose to reschedule the “Teacher Stomp” workshop with Niel until year 2 in the fall. Being attuned and responsive to the teachers’ schedules, challenges, and needs is a big factor in this partnership’s success.
The musicians, likewise, have done this work so often and so well that they are comfortable and competent enough to respond to the needs of the students and teachers effectively without training. Communication between OSO staff and GHE teachers and administration has been adequate for the work we did this year, but will need to be increased for next year’s focus. More time will be spent in planning and direct contact with teachers at all levels (Gilbert Heights, Alice Ott, and David Douglas High School) in order to deepen the relationship and get ahead of planning for the long-term relationship and sustainability of this residency work.
Although Pam Mahon’s time will be used to work directly with the elementary teachers and students in recorder and singing preparation for the April 2016 concert, project lead Monica Hayes will continue to work with the district administrators and music specialists in coordinating the project through year 2 and beyond.
4. How might budget change in year 2
For year 2, the budget remains at the limit allocated by the OCF. The projected activities using these funds will differ from our original proposal, now that we have been in the schools and have insight into the needs and resources there. There will be some activities added as opportunities present themselves, such as guest artist visits to the schools and visits to the hall for rehearsals, which will not increase the budget but will add to the students and teachers learning and motivation. This is the beauty of a solid partnership- we can include DDSD in creative and inspiring events for the students (particularly the middle and high schoolers and their teachers) which may just change the course of a student’s life. One change in our proposed plans was that Kindergarten teachers opted to bring their students to the K-2 youth concerts, rather than to have the Symphony Storytimes. We may decide to add the Storytimes into the 2nd year, for the music and literature connection and that will add up for musicians’ pay. We will be involved in the elementary level through Pam Mahon’s work in the Link Up Concert preparation and will now be able to increase resources at the middle school level through the 45th Parallel’s coaching program.
All final year 2 plans depend on a strategic planning session with the Gilbert Heights and Alice Ott planning team in late June and will be reported once we have them in place. Gilbert Heights will have a new principal starting in August and we have yet to meet. We all look forward to more of this amazing musical interaction and education in the DDSD with the musicians, kids, teachers, parents, and community members. The cadre of other S2S grantees has been very valuable is sparking creative thinking and resource sharing and we look forward to more of that is year 2 as well! THANK YOU OCF!!!!!!!
This Reflection # 3 was written by Monica Hayes, Project Lead with input from Cherie-Anne May (GHE Principal), Greg Ewer (45th Parallel) and Pam Mahon (arts consultant and subcontracted assistant)