April 3, 2018

I, Holly, had the privilege of visiting a class in order to photograph our students using the new ukuleles. It’s always helpful to observe first hand the significant mentoring, instruction, and challenges that go along with teaching music. Before you read our teacher’s notes let me share how he is helping the children learn to listen, a much-needed skill in music and everyday life.

He starts class with 2 questions while students are seated enjoying their snack. “What was one good thing about your day? And, what was one thing that bugged you today?” As the children begin to chatter with their answers he quiets them down reminding them not to answer unless he calls upon them. He asks them “what’s the other rule?” To which they say “you must first share one thing the child before you has shared.” Not only is this time teaching them how to listen but it’s also therapeutic. This is just one of the many ways our teachers are impacting students. We hope you continue to enjoy these windows into our classroom.


The class at Burrowes went as well as any so far. K was dropped off early, I was pleased by how he responded to my directions. He helped me set up the equipment. During snack, I asked them to share one good thing about their day, and one thing that bugged them. A said her good thing was seeing her counselor. She seemed a lot lighter than last week. I gave every kid a turn on the electric guitar and cycled the ukuleles and percussion. The kids were eager to help me pack up the equipment. The class went well.


Near a breakthrough at Carter MacCrae today. Snack and Share time went well. We introduced a new boy named Z, he’s in fourth grade and is musical. After hearing the three N kids sing this weekend at two separate events, I went in with a game plan. I had them sing “Down By the Riverside” and taught the kids to play percussion parts. The N kids sang it with heart. I switched gears and taught the kids chords to the song on ukulele and bass xylophone. That went far better than I could have expected, and the class was making music. The three five-year-olds could simply bang along on small percussion. The kids were energetic, a bit wild today, but all were respectful and teachable. I was pleased that most of the kids could play the three finger chord needed for the song. As we packed up I told Z that he is really talented and played well on all the instruments. He said that next week he will bring his drum pad.


 -George Yellak, SWAN music teacher

The names of students are represented by a letter for privacy reasons.