"I recently learned a new Conga technique from Cuba, said Robert Fritz as he clapped out a beat for the Love School kindergarteners. Then, he started drumming as the students and teachers clapped along.
"I'm so glad I woke up early for this," said kindergartner Brayden Snow.
Mr. Fritz entertained and enlightened kindergarteners in Beth Strong's class by demonstrating African drum playing. Mrs. Strong's class recently finished their "Sing A Song Paint A Picture" unit, which covered human expression in both music and art. Throughout the unit, the class talked about how art and music both play a part in bringing beauty and joy to their lives. Mrs. Strong asked students how music and art carried over into their home life. Kindergartner Lynea Shea spoke of her parents playing music and drums and they both generously offered to come in and demonstrate how the drums are made and play African music for the students.
Robert Fritz demonstrates African drumming to Love School kindergartners.
The multidisciplinary unit included creating, where they experimented with musical instruments such as cymbals, piano, bells, horns, string instruments and art materials such as clay and sand, social studies by learning to appreciate and respect different cultures and customs, cognitive skills by observing and making a plan, learning about thematic concepts whey studying the four instrument families (brass/percussion/string/wood), physical movement to music and rhythm, personal and emotional development by learning to express feelings through music and art, and literacy by creating stories, sequencing events, story elements, having an interest and writing about it.
The unit books are expressive, with students learning about different instruments in bands and orchestras and discovering artists and their disciplines like sculpture and painting. One of the students' favorite books, The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub is a story about a fly that "speaks jazz" and asks different critters how to get to town. The author created a wonderful story that he reads and puts to jazz music. The story introduces young children to drums, piano and an awesome beat. A second story is Degas and The Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt. This is about the famous sculptor Edgar Degas and his most famous sculpture of a ballerina. The books subjects show the students that an "artist" could be a musician a sculpture, painter, author, dancer and singer.
"Combining art, music and literacy is a wonderful way to integrate different learning modalities," said Mrs. Strong. "Each student, who learns at a different pace or through a different mode, is able to pick up something through simply drawing, singing, dancing and the motions involved in this unit. The students have an opportunity to blend art and music when they created art that was inspired by listening to certain music."