Band Project at the University of Minnesota School of Music

Band Project is an after-school
instructional program. It’s a collaboration between the University of
Minnesota School of Music and the Minneapolis Public Schools, in particular
Folwell Performing Arts Magnet School. Undergraduate music education students
from the School of Music work with young band students to help them develop
technique, breathing, tone production, but also to help them be
composers and improvisers. I chose to be part of Band
and Orchestra Project because one of my greatest
goals with music is to give back to the communities
that I’ve come from. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to get all
the gifts I have, and it’s my job now that I’ve received them to do as much
good as I can in the world with them. One way I can do that is meet these kids
and teach them and have them teach me about all of the different things music
can be and what it can do for people. The reason why I decided to join the
Band Project is because of the opportunity presented. You know, not many
other students to get the opportunity to teach their first year of college. And so
I can practice, you know, making lesson plans, I can figure out some classroom
management skills, and I can do that all in a safe setting where I can
piggyback off of all the other students and staff that are here to help me. It’s
a pretty awesome opportunity to have. We definitely are able to help each other
out and that’s something that we’re definitely… That helps us before
we’re in a classroom on our own our senior year.
–Yeah, collaboration is key as they say. “Alright, did you guys get
your half sheets done?” “What’s our motto? Planning is important
but flexibility is key! [Laughs]” There were definitely aspects about
being an apprentice teacher that were like magical moments. And as a partner of it
now, it’s really cool to be a part of that magic-making for the apprentice
teachers, the undergrad students who are doing it because it was a really
formative experience for me. It’s good to have the theory and ideas about
how to support kids emotionally and mentally but until you try and do it, especially
in an environment where you have licensed teachers–Dr. Sindberg–
there to support you when you need it… There are a whole bunch of students
getting these opportunities to be expressive and to make new relationships
with each other and with different members of the community. I also get to
see my younger colleagues get to practice their craft at teaching just like I did.
That’s a really cool thing to see. My favorite part of Band Project would be
when a kid thinks they can’t play something or they can’t do something and
then all of a sudden they get it or that sound pops out. Seeing that little
spark in their eyes and they’re like, “Oh my gosh.
I did that myself!” “Be paying attention to where
we are in the progression, okay?” “Any questions?” “Questions? No?
Alright. Let’s do it!” “One… Two…
One, two, ready…” I want to make a difference.
Whether it be small, like “You can play a b-flat now!” Or if it’s, “Do you
need someone to talk to? What’s going on at home?” That’s why I love coming to band
project because I can make a difference whether it be big or small. It’s pretty special
when you think about the relationship that you’re building with
these kids. To think… When I think back to my… Your early years of being a
music student. There were… There were certain individuals that I
looked up to. And They still have a huge impact on who I want to be and
where I want to go. And to think that in the Band Project I could potentially
be like that to somebody… That… Really pulls at your heartstrings
and really makes you want to… Want to do this. It’s awesome. I’m passionate and committed
to band project for a very personal reason. When I was growing up in
Milwaukee I was the beneficiary in Milwaukee Public Schools of
opportunities to pursue music. Even though I couldn’t afford an instrument;
my parents couldn’t afford lessons. I then started teaching in Milwaukee
Public Schools where I then, as a teacher conductor, was able to help provide
experiences to students who didn’t have those experiences. And that has been
a value of mine all throughout my teaching life. At the University of
Minnesota I am able to do this work in a public school setting working with
students who may not have opportunities of some of our suburban students.
And it is those students to whom I am really
committed in this work.