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listening project Back to Basics:


Three Easy Ways to Coax Parents Back Into the Classroom Aimee Swanson, WMEA Co-Chair, Listening Project


Gone are the days when almost al l mother s s tayed home, cared for their children and so gra- ciously volunteered in classrooms across the nation. Nowa- days it is difficult for busy, working par-


ents to find time to cook meals, let alone help out in their children’s classrooms. The following are three fast, easy ways to include parents in the music curriculum. I use many in relation to the WMEA Listen- ing Project, but one can apply these ideas to any music program.


Detective Pairs


One great way to keep parents up to date and in touch with the music classroom is to have a monthly scavenger hunt on your web page. The hunt can center on the curricula the students are studying. Pose a question about a composer, style and spe- cific song and provide links so that parents and students can explore the vast array of music education web sites available to us. Each month you can pick a random winner and award the parental unit and child with anything from pencils, homemade goodies (it is amazing what middle school students will do for Mrs. Swanson’s chocolate chip cookies), a shout out on your web page or announcement board, or gift cards to a lo- cal music store. Once they visit your web site and know it is constantly changing,


Practical Pointers Wisconsin School Musician


they are more likely to stay “tuned in” to life in your music classroom.


Some wonderful web sites for compos- ers are:


www.nyphilkids.org www.dsokids.com www.wmeamusic.org/listeningproject - Interactive listener pages


Of course, YouTube is a wonderful re- source for parents to listen and react to songs the class is studying. Make sure to provide feedback sheets for the parents/ students to complete.


Students who do not have access to the Internet can always watch TV, look at pa- pers and magazines and find connections to music they are studying in class. This year’s Listening Project list has lots of music that producers like to use in movies and commercials. Check it out!


Study Buddies


I encourage my parents to take five min- utes out of the day to review our Listening Project chart with students. Parents can ask about composers, quiz their children on forms, ask about styles and even ask students to sing the songs for them. I will count parent/older brother or sister study buddy sessions as extra credit. Create a sheet for students and parents to sign to acknowledge they had a study buddy ses- sion. It’s fast and easy – only five minutes of time. I’ve had a lot of parents comment


Download sample parent worksheets for “detective pairs” and “study buddies” exercises in the online version of WSM.


on how impressed they are with what their child has been able to learn and accom- plish during our 12 weeks of class.


Show & Tell Your Parents


I use every opportunity I have to give my students live performances of instrument sounds, musical genres and dance. Having parents show and tell their talents is a won- derful and cheap way to be able to do this. They can bring in an instrument, share a dance, or talk about how they were and are connected to music as a child and now as an adult. I especially love having parents who grew up in foreign countries share songs and games they learned/played as a child. This is a wonderful way to share cultural experiences with the students as well as have a great musical activity to fall back on should there be down time in a rehearsal or class.


In our fast moving society, these quick in- teractions will help keep parents connected with the musical world around them.


Aimee Swanson teaches choral and general music at Lake Geneva Middle School. Email: aimee.swanson@badger.k12.wi.us


~ Kevin Thays


As you are planning school events, remember to inform your local media of all important and timely news. Regularly keeping in touch with the media helps connect your school and programs with the community.


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