OUR OFFICIAL SITE VISIT
February 25, 2016 — Siletz Bay/Lincoln City travels to Shedd/Agnes Stewart Middle School
This post was written by Niki Price, Siletz Bay/Lincoln City schools evaluation coordinator, with submissions from Mike Freel, elementary music teacher

  1. What did you see and do during your visit? Who was included (describe participant from both projects).  Our Studio to School team was represented by Mike Freel, who teaches elementary music and co-teaches our sixth grade band, and Niki Price, who directs the Lincoln City Cultural Center and is a parent/community member. We began our day at the Shedd Institute in Eugene, where we got a tour of the facility from Ginevra Ralph, director of education, and Heidi Turnquist, the institute’s school administrator. Ginevra explained how her nonprofit got started, and why, and how they pursue their mission to provide music education to people of all ages. Then, we carpooled to a restaurant in Springfield, where we met ASMS music teacher Dana Demant and principal Jeff Fuller. We talked over lunch, and then parted ways with the Shedd Institute leaders to take a tour of the ASMS music department with Dana and Jeff. We had lots of time for chatting and questions, and saw some of the small music groups receiving attention from specialists. We left for home around 2 pm.

2. What were you expecting to learn during your visit? Did you learn what you were hoping to learn? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn? 

As the director of an arts-oriented nonprofit in a historic building, Niki was hoping to learn a lot more about the Shedd Institute and how it operates. “I was not disappointed there, as Ginevra’s tour was thorough and full of great information that I can use at the LCCC. I also hoped to learn more about the relationship between the partner nonprofit and the school, and that was satisfied as well.”
Mike was hoping to learn more about how a middle school program differs from models in an elementary school, where he is currently working, and a semi-professional marching band, which is where he has worked for the past 20 years. This is Mike’s first year as a full-time teacher, and he is still learning when it comes to discipline and expectations up and down the grades. He was also impressed by the size of the Shedd Institute, and its many possibilities, but found more of immediate interest at the school. He looked into music rooms and storage areas, and saw how the whole program worked for grades 6-7-8.

3. What stood out to you from your visit? Did anything in particular either resonate or surprise you? 
Niki said, “It seemed to me that forging the relationship between the nonprofit and the schools was more difficult for the Shedd/Agnes Stewart team than it has been for our team. It seemed like they work in two different worlds, and they have to make a special effort to cross paths or have a meeting. In our small town, our team has a lot of “overlaps” (parent-teacher-board member-nonprofit leader-donor) so it is not difficult to find one another or understand where the other is coming from. The coziness of our small town might be to our benefit in this situation. I was also heartened to see that small group instruction was crucial to the success of this program, as it is for our sixth grade band.”  Mike Freel added: “I was interested in learning where they found the music tutors to teach at the middle school and how they managed them, and my questions were answered. The Shedd specializes in managing private music teachers and they manage the private teachers for the middle school. I discovered the Shedd offers music to all ages from preschool to retired aged adults. They do this with lessons and with creative classes designed for the needs of different age groups.”

4. What ideas or considerations are you bringing home to your own project? Is there anything you can apply, or that you might do differently as a result of your peer visit? 
One of the topics of discussion at this visit was the outreach concert, and its value compared to sequential music education. As the outreach concert is one of the biggest ways that my nonprofit is involved in this project, we’ve been disheartened by this aspect of our S2S grant. Sometimes they are wonderful, and seem to resonate with the students and teachers. Other times they seem to be a burden, interrupting the teachers’ day and failing to reach the students these concerts are supposed to inspire.
“I came away from this experience (and the Edgefield rendezvous) with the idea that we should meet with the teachers now, to talk about what they are planning for curriculum in the coming year,” Niki said. “Armed with that, I might be able to schedule visits from touring groups and bands who are more relevant. I see a class divide between the patrons of the nonprofit (Siletz Bay Music Festival, LCCC and the Shedd) and some of the families and the teachers we are trying to help — by telling them what they “should” like. Maybe if we start with what they are teaching, the music component would make more sense.”
Mike said: “What stood out to me, during our visit, was the number of outreach performances they are able to provide by asking performers that are performing paid admission concerts to offer afternoon concerts or sound checks free to the public. It was also great that they offer bus rides from Springfield to Eugene to get students and their parents to attend these outreach concerts at the Shedd institute.”
“Both of our projects offer the services of music tutors to our students. This is great for the students and good for the teachers. I want to focus more on making this more viable in terms of compensation for the tutors,” Mike concluded.

AN UNOFFICIAL SITE VISIT
October 2015 — Taft 7-12 Band Director Andy Hordichok traveled to Beaumont Middle School in Portland
This post was written by Andy Hordichok, and posted by Niki Price

  1. What did you see and do during your visit? Who was included (describe participant from both projects).  I observed Cynthia Plank at Beaumont Middle School located in Portland. I chose to visit her site for a number of reasons. a) She has a sixth grade band and a seventh grade band, both have about 90 students. b) She is a respectable director and has one of the best programs in the Portland area, c) PPS also has a relatively high diversity of ethnicity and economic status.
  2. What were you expecting to learn during your visit? Did you learn what you were hoping to learn? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn? There were several aspects I was looking for when observing Cynthia Plank. I wanted to know how she managed 90+ middle school students (answer: she has three to five parents to help and manage, or tutor individually). I was also interested in the ratio of school-owned to student-owned instruments (answer: I was very surprised to find that a high percentage of students own their own instruments, she estimated 60 to 70%). And lastly, I was curious about the overall classroom environment and her teaching style (answer: although it sometimes took a while to get started, once it got going the pace was very fast with lots of verbal cues. Kids sing parts, clap parts and play parts).
  3. What stood out to you from your visit? Did anything in particular either resonate or surprise you? It was nice to visit Cynthia. It gave me reassurance in my teaching style and the use of some of our resources. I was very surprised by the high number of students who had their own horns regardless of their economic status. There was one thing that stood out, and it may seem silly but it seems to make a huge difference in developing student rapport: having each student with a name tag on the front of his or her stand.
  4. What ideas or considerations are you bringing home to your own project? Is there anything you can apply, or that you might do differently as a result of your peer visit? We started using the name tags the very next day. Also, we started implementing several exercises and methods she uses in class.