Deirdre Moore | July 2013

Making Music: Arts Immersion To Do List Week 5

From my Arts Immersion To Do List I have clearly favored dance having checked off first the “make” dance and then the “experience” dance.  Music is my other great love, so this week I decided to make some music.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to leave the west coast and come to the east coast to visit loved ones.  I am staying in my childhood home with my parents. In that home resides the piano and piano books I used as a child to make music.  So, yesterday, I sat down at that very piano and started to play.

It brought back such great memories of running home from lessons to practice on that piano in the living room while my mother listened from the kitchen (and would occasionally send my older sister out to make sure I was doing it right!).  After my freshman year of high school I stopped taking piano lessons to focus on my dancing and singing.  I remember sitting for hours plunking out the notes to my voice part and eventually playing just the other voice parts so I could practice singing mine in harmony with them.

In playing my pieces from childhood last night and stopping to practice certain passages until I could coordinate both hands confidently and I could smoothly transition from one phrase to another, I was prompted to reflect on what great lessons can be learned from studying music.  What was so great about working on a piece of music whether I was playing it or singing it was the immediate feedback.

I could hear my progress as I practiced, and didn’t need a computer to say if my answer was correct.  I didn’t need to wait for the teacher to return my paper to see how I did.  Each time I used my instrument I could hear and evaluate my own progress.  I could also explore how I could  best improve my playing, learning about how I learn: slowing the tempo, playing each hand separately, breaking it down into smaller and smaller chunks.

Educators know just how powerful intrinsic motivation is and how difficult that is to cultivate in some children.  Because making art, particularly music, does provide that immediate feedback and allows one to self-evaluate it is intrinsically motivating.  That feeling of finally “getting it” is so powerful and rewarding.  Art-making is also a wonderful way to practice perseverance in a learning task.  With each attempt at a piece of music, the musician can hear the progress and it can inspire the artist to try it again and again and again until s/he is satisfied with the progress achieved.  That is true within one practice session and in pulling the artist back for more practice sessions to achieve mastery.

The skills of focusing on a task, of self-evaluating, and of persevering to achieve the desired end are vital to success in any endeavor.  These habits of art-making can have an amazing impact on learning in any area and therefore have life-long implications.  Just allowing myself a few hours of making music helped remind me how satisfying art-making and making music can be.  Time to put a check mark on #8, “Make art: music.”

Five weeks of arts immersion down and five to go….

(And just a reminder that after our Connectivity Conference on Friday, you can keep the Art Integration going by celebrating National Dance Day in your own way on Saturday, July 27th.  Looking forward to interacting with you on Friday at the conference!)

About the Author

Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.