March is MENC’s Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®), and music teachers around the United States are preparing their students to sing in the World’s Largest Concert® (WLC®) on March 10. The 2011 MIOSM theme is “Music Lasts a Lifetime.”
Many music teachers use March as a time to highlight their music programs and student achievements in their communities. Teachers of students who perform on the WLC DVD are among those who will use the concert to advocate for their school music program.
Gina Royal, music teacher at Ben Hill Primary School in Fitzgerald, Georgia, said when she learned her school was one of those featured in the concert, she began thinking of ways of using the concert to shine a spotlight on her music program.
“As soon as we got word we were in the concert, we were extremely excited. To see that we were the only school from Georgia made it even more exciting. Wow! What an accomplishment! All of the music teachers in our county are excited for us, as well as the regular teachers at our school,” Royal said.
She added: “Ben Hill Primary always has a full page in our local paper the first week of March for Music In Our Schools Month. I was able to contact the local paper [the Herald Leader] and place an article in it about our accomplishments.”
Royal said 99 second-grade students from Ben Hill Primary came to school on a Saturday last December to make a video of the song “We the People,” one of the concert songs.
Photo 1: Gina Royal’s students prepare to record a segment for the WLC
Photo 2: Music Teacher Gina Royal
Karen I. Spalding teaches K–5 general music at Christian Ott Elementary School in Independence, Missouri. In years past her students watched the DVD for the WLC each March, singing along with other young singers.
“To participate in the World’s Largest Concert will be so rewarding for them, and an opportunity for our school to shine as we celebrate our 125th birthday this year,” she said.
Spalding will work to get out word about the WLC this March. “We will publicize our participation in the World’s Largest Concert on the district website and school newsletter, as well as the local paper and television station.”
“I am so thankful to have been chosen to perform. So much learning has taken place, musically and otherwise. And for me, in addition to the entertainment, the World’s Largest Concert or any performance opportunity is all about learning,” she said.
Karen Spalding directs her music students in Independence, Missouri
Samantha Mudge, a music teacher from Fayetteville, N.C., was one of those who orchestrated a WLC segment for her school. Nearly 200 of her students sang “Tue, Tue,” a joyful, rhythmic Ghanaian folk song.
Although Mudge said the segment was recorded on a cold, rainy day, “the children shared something magical. Our last cut shows that. Afterwards the kids were just bursting with excitement. The principal was even screaming and jumping up and down. It was the best take we had. The kids knew it. The kids felt it. Nobody was cold after that.”
Community support for her young singers was evident from the start. Since the song sings of a harvest, parents helped create a small Ghanaian marketplace. Mudge said she picked “Tue, Tue” because of her interest in world music.
Mudge describes her teaching situation as unique. “As a fourth-year, K-5 general music educator, I teach at three schools, working with approximately 700 students in Fayetteville, NC (which is utterly exhausting).
“We have been very lucky. Through DonorsChoose.org, we have received a total of 12 grants in the past few years, and have also made professional contacts with a local private patron of the arts (originally a donor from DonorsChoose), who has taken interest in my teaching and the kids’ musical education.
“Through this professional collaboration, we have acquired recorders, ukuleles, guitars, our World Music Drumming set, and so many other things, making us truly unique. While I am on a cart at Sunnyside, my students spend time learning, exploring, and experiencing all of these instruments (ukulele for grades K-3, guitar for 4 and 5), and World Music Drumming is introduced in 3rd grade, to much excitement and success.”
To get the word out about her program, Mudge said, “We hope to have an article published in the newspaper, and get some air time for the DVD on our public access channel. “Some radio stations have employees’ with children in our school and may come out to support our endeavors. We will also solicit our local news station. Parents have been lining up to volunteer as well, due to the enthusiastic efforts of our fantastic PTA president.”
Photo 1: Samantha Mudge’s Fayetteville, North Carolina students braved the weather for an exuberant performance
Photo 2: Students performed in the Ghanaian-replica village constructed by parent volunteers
Want to advocate for your school music program in March or the rest of the year? MENC offers advocacy tips, including:
How to get a resolution passed
Working through a speakers’ bureau
—Roz Fehr, February 17, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education