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Caitlin Mack Observation Reflection #1 For my first field experience, I decided to observe a class at the Michigan State University

Community Music School. When first deciding which class to attend, I was overwhelmed by the number of classes that the facilities there had to offer and wanted to attend all of them. For the purposes of this assignment, however, I focused in on one particular class; Making Music which is taught by the lovely Yvonne Berz. This class had five students present, ages five through seven. One of the first things I noticed about the classroom was the free nature that it offered; there were no desks or white boards or anything that one would typically associate with school. Instead, there was a large carpeted area that invited students to take of their shoes and move about, which I really enjoyed. As the students arrived, they sat on the floor and eagerly asked the teacher questions about what they were doing today. Once the class began, I noticed an abundance of concepts and techniques we have discussed throughout our sessions being implemented within this setting. During the first activity, the teacher had the students stand up and they began to sing the “Hello and How Are You”, which appeared to be a song that opened with every day, based on the students knowledge of it. After singing the song through, the students got to suggest their own movement to do during the traditional clapping breaks of the song. Students suggested movements like stomping, touching their elbows, and patting their head. This activity correlated perfectly to the idea of movement and the establishment of self that we have talked about within our class. The students were encouraged to isolate various parts of their bodies in order to follow a specific pattern of rhythm that was suggested in the song, which helps to grow the students knowledge of self as well as build an understanding of rests within music. 1

After everyone was welcomed, Yvonne had an assistant who brought in an instrument for the students to learn about; today’s instrument was the flute. Yvonne’s co teacher went on to showing the students the flute and describing various things about it, such as the range of notes it was able to play and how the instrument was able to make sound. I really liked this aspect of the class because it highlighted a particular instrument and allowed the students to have some exploratory time, in which they were able to ask questions and listen to music, as well as physically touching the instrument. This is a great thing I could foresee implementing into any classroom (whether it be music or general ed) in order to have the students gain exposure of various types of instruments and how they work. Once the instrument portion was over, the class circled up and the teacher sang a song with no words. While she sang, she gave the students beanbags and had them place them on the tops of their hands. She then had the students listen and watch her first, to understand that as she sang, she moved her hand about, careful to not drop the bean bag, and filled the space around her. This was almost identical to the activities we have done in class and instantly made me think of it. Once she demonstrated, the students all placed the beanbags on the tops of their hands and mimicked her movements as she sang the song. After she sang it through once, the students got to choose a particular body part to place it on and had to continue to utilize flow to fill the space around them. She also had the students drop the beanbag at the end of each time of singing it, in correlation with her singing the resting tone. I thought this was extremely interesting to see because all of the students were able to sing the resting tone whenever she set it up for them to sing it. They even were able to describe what it was, which I was extremely impressed by. Another portion of this activity consisted of the teacher singing the song and pretending to have a beanbag on a particular part of her body. Based on her demonstration of the weight the object 2

had and how she moved about, she asked the students to guess where she was holding her imaginary beanbag. I really liked her use of this activity because it highlighted one of the Laban movement elements of weight. Students had to understand the weight that a bean bag would elicit and utilize that knowledge to identify where Yvonne would have placed the object. She also offered the opportunity for the students to come up with an imaginary place to hold their beanbag and had the other students try and guess. This activity really sustained the attention of the class and worked to develop their idea of movement. The final activity that Yvonne had her students partake in was a Japanese song. During this time, she brought out a drum and had the students’ circle around it. She made sure to have them sit with their hands off of the drum while she sang and demonstrated the macro beat to them. After singing one time through, she had the students sing along and drum along while playing the beats again. She then went another time through doing the micro beats instead and ended with going around the circle and having the students drum while she sang either to the macro beat or the micro beat. I thought Yvonne did a wonderful job of having the students identify the beats within the song and allowed them the opportunity to see the differences in the macro and micro beats by having the students determine which they wanted to demonstrate. Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the community music school. I was entirely shocked with the amount of parallels I saw between our time in class and the things being performed in actual music classes. It was extremely exciting to see students catching on to ideas of macro and micro beats at such a young age and being able to identify and decipher amongst patterns in various settings.

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