Wednesday April 22nd was a magical night for a number of music students at Ithaca College. Why you ask? The magic came about thanks to the incomparable Dr. Emily Mason and what was now her last workshop at Ithaca College. During this one hour time period, students of varying ages, backgrounds, degree programs, and levels of teaching experience came together to learn exactly what it takes to make magic in the music classroom.
A specialist in elementary education and more specifically the general music classroom, we all received a first hand experience as to what it takes to make the general music classroom both magical and worthwhile. Dr. Mason combined PowerPoint slides, musical listening examples, Orff techniques and instruments, Dalcroze eurythmics, and teaching tools and props of all kinds to make this experience unforgettable. The structure of this workshop was both clear and straight forward while still allowing room for guided discovery and organized fun.
Dr. Mason made it clear that, with a little bit of effort and preparation, a good lesson and become a great and magical one. We 'played' many games as we responded to music and sang songs that both challenged us musically and mentally. While we clearly are not elementary aged students, this workshop provided an outlet for us students to step in the shoes of a young child and imagine how magical and inspiring these activities could be.
One highlight of the workshop included a session where we learned the "Cup" song with additional motions and body percussion. This was a model lesson because it took something that students and children would most likely be very familiar with due to the recently popular movie Pitch Perfect. With this song, Dr. Mason slowly taught us the motions as a group through scaffolding instruction and various levels of feedback. After we had successfully learned it individually, Dr. Mason then took it a step further by challenging us all to pass the cups in a circle while performing the percussion and singing along to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. She then added another factor and had us sing along and tap while she slowly took cups out of the circle. This provided a change to the lesson sparking interest and preventing loss of interest and also created a way to neatly clean up the cups.
This was one of the many examples of activities that truly make the general music classroom musical. While i could write endlessly of all the other magical moments in this workshop, instead I'd like to end with this notion. As one of Dr. Mason's students in Music Education here at Ithaca College, I can honestly say that she has inspired me both on nights like this one and many other separate occasions. I've learned so much through her modeling, mentoring, and professionalism in and outside of the classroom and can't thank her enough. This workshop was truly magical and proved to be a blessing to have attended. Dr. Mason as reaffirmed my love for teaching and will continue to do so for years to come.
Matthew Morrison '15
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