Studio to School Initiative

Reflection Journal Assignment #4

Monica Hayes for Oregon Symphony/45th Parallel/David Douglas School District

 

  • The August convening was very helpful in many regards. First and foremost, it was an opportunity to get all of our team together in one place for a period of time and actually have an allotted time to discuss successes of year one, assess next steps, and to plan for year two. Our team has had some personnel changes, so this gave us a chance to catch the new principal (Shane Bassett) up on all of the goals and to rearrange some of the plans, based on his knowledge of Gilbert Heights student and staff needs.

 

  • I was very enlightened by both of the speakers. What I took away from Milenko Matanovic’s presentation is that it is the process and the people’s involvement that makes the final product most valuable. To really get to the heart of what the people want, you have to have very good communication and freedom for all to express their thoughts and desires. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets what they want, but rather that everyone gets to express themselves and their beliefs for the community and for their art. The hard part is leading all of these people in a coordinated common effort. That is exactly where we are as a team. We have the resources to make a difference, but we don’t have the coordinated communication to make the most of it all. It is our plan in year two to make that our #1 priority.

 

  • The most important community members, at this stage, are the teachers and administrators. The desire to get extra instruction, music experiences and support is there in the schools (Gilbert Heights and Alice Ott). We have the teaching artists working with students. So in order for all of these resources to be utilized in a effectively efficient way, we still need coordinate and communicate with the school personnel. We acknowledge that parents and community members are to be included in these plans. This will be part of our focus this year- how to do that.

 

  • The DDSD Superintendent, Don Grotting, is now caught up with the project’s successes and plans to be more involved in communicating the project with district and community leaders. We have increased involvement from the newly appointed Music Coordinator, Tom Muller, who is very interested in helping to articulate the music education offerings from elementary through Alice Ott Middle School and then finally to David Douglas High School over the next five years. The Alice Ott and David Douglas HS principals are aware of our project but have not yet been part of the detailed planning. That is planned for this year. Finding time for this work has been a challenge. We have identified a Gilbert Heights parent who is also part of the music booster team in the district. She is an eager participant and will be very helpful in this project. She grew up attending DDSD and knows much of the rich history of their music programs.

 

  • Progress has clearly been made at both the elementary and middle school levels. At Gilbert Heights Elementary our musicians visited all of the classrooms in the first half of the day and performed for the students in the afternoon. With each visit, the students became more comfortable in meeting the musicians and asked great questions about the music and the instruments. Toward the springtime, many of these questions were around the best age for learning to play, how much the musicians practice, and if they can learn to play the instruments in their school. At the evening community concerts, we always made time for a petting zoo prior to each concert and then a Q & A time afterwards. The parents were very interested to hear from the residency musicians and school administrators that David Douglas School District does have a strong instrumental music program. Their pride in this very apparent and it was clear that they intended to follow up on their interest in these offerings.

 

  • At Alice Ott Middle School, 23 students received private lessons every other week from 10 string musicians of the 45th Parallel (5 of which are Oregon Symphony musicians and 5 are regular subs in the OSO). The orchestra director, Marlene Trigg reports that the students’ skills and attention to practice have greatly increased, hence their confidence and preparedness in performances. It became clear that the lessons need to be weekly and we will budget for that in the year two 2015/16. The 45th Parallel musicians offered lunch-time performances in the cafeteria and drew large crowds of listeners each time. The Principal was very pleased with the positive reactions and respect for the musicians the Alice Ott students displayed.

 

  • Now that both Gilbert Heights and Alice Ott students, teachers, administrators, and parents have gotten to know a little about the Oregon Symphony and the musicians, we feel that we are ready to increase the support we are offering their music curriculum and to broaden our impact in the district in the ensuing years.