It is so great to be back in a classroom again after two years of teaching JK-G5 Music "á la carte"! For me, our first in-person performance is looming very soon. We are three weeks away from hearing the entire junior school sing together in front of all of their parents and teachers. This is such an important first step for everyone to heal and come together, as a community, finally!
How can I fully prepare students who have limited or no performance experience for such a big event? This is the urgent piece for me. I am focussing on the PYP Approaches to Learning Skills to help build endurance for the Whole Body Listening Skill they will need to demonstrate for about one hour on concert day. After showing a video of our last Harmony Concert in 2019, in each class, we had discussions about what they noticed. What is their responsibility as performers? What is their responsibility while listening to other performers? Why are we coming together to perform for their parents? What message are we communicating with the repertoire that we perform?
Grade 5 students were in Grade 2 in 2019, so they were considerably shorter and cuter (their words) than they are now. In addition to learning and polishing repertoire students recognized that they also had work to do in the area of maintaining focus, at least for the duration of a song or a piece. This needs to be practised alongside our pieces. I created this social story based on these discussions and we review this at the beginning of every class. This lead to further discussions about what to do if our bodies have too much energy and it's a challenge to be in control of their bodies. Students identified what works best for them. Some can practise mindful breathing in their spot in the classroom, while others need to go to the hallway for a couple of minutes and then return. They can also go for a short mindful walk to reset or grab a quick drink of water. There are visuals on the whiteboard to remind them.
We are getting there, slowly. The next challenge will be combining two classes together to rehearse, so we can then gradually build up to performing together as a full Junior School. The best part for me is noticing how much my students are loving singing together. They play instruments too, but they are blending together so beautifully and sound amazing. They tell me that they feel happy after singing together and they love the songs. December 8th will be an emotional day. Our hearts will be full after hearing their wonderful sound!