Today was really interesting, though. While teaching the art portions of class, students were enthusiastic and quiet--for the most part. They were involved and engaged, and they had some lovely cooperative efforts. Halfway through our seventh grade classes, as we transitioned to music, I noticed a distinct shift in mood and tone. I had to smile, because the moment that we mentioned music, over half of the class immediately began moving, tapping feet and fingers and pencils. I had to rethink my expectations about noise and participation. The class got louder, individual personalities began to pop out as students strayed from directions and intended results, here and there.... It's difficult to avoid frustration, when students aren't used to cooperative performance, but perhaps that is simply a symptom of potential. I'll have to keep exploring interesting ways to foster individuality, while stressing cooperative learning and performance. I'll have to adapt some of my attention-getting techniques to reflect common rehearsal practices. I'm excited, because I have been ready for something to challenge my thinking and my methods for far too long. (I can't wait to start playing games and bringing the percussion instruments into the mix. They always help students to listen to one another.)
One of the seventh grade classes really had me on the edge of my seat, because they have been the first group to make real connections between art and music. (The arts-integrated curriculum is already taking shape, making a difference in the first week!) When asked the question, "What is art?" one student responded with, "the visual music of the world." From there, students started suggesting that dance, music, film, plays, etc. were all art, even when the original intention was to introduce and explore visual art, on its own. Thus far, all of the other classes have still been separating the two disciplines into distinctly different chunks. Tomorrow, the lines should blur even further, as we start to discuss parallels between the elements of art and music. We'll be exploring the idea of color and value through beat and rhythm. The comparisons aren't exact, so we'll have to play around a bit. For example, value is an easy one: how much color, versus how long a note lasts in time and space. Color is a bit trickier. In visual art, one can add white or black to change the value of the original color. In music, tone color/timbre refers to the individual sound of a voice or instrument, something that distinguishes that sound from another one. I am interested in looking at references to noise colors, because they borrow ideas from the optical spectrum and apply them to the frequency of sound waves. (Oh WikiPedia, how I love you! Let me count the ways! I was able to hunt down a handful of .ogg files on sound color, so you know I'm bringing those babies into the classroom, tomorrow.)
Well, I stop here for the evening, or risk certain death at the hands of tomorrow's 23-hour work schedule. No, that is not a typo. In all likelihood, I will get home at about 3:30 A.M. on Satuday. Hooray for long weekends...and kittens.