Like a great adventure, sadly, Resonate 2015 has come and gone! People keep asking me how it went and my answer is that I wish I could just live in those few days that Resonate took place over all the time. Despite the multitude of scrapes and bruises my clumsy self acquired during the equipment moving process, the countless sets of stairs we did to get the equipment into the appropriate rooms of a 4-storey building, the number of times I tripped on said stairs as lack of sleep started to take control of my movements, or very nearly slicing off my finger tip as the weight of 25 or so music stands pinched it between a thin edge and the stand frame, the opportunity to see our PSSD students experience such a unique learning opportunity made it all worthwhile. And thankfully, we had a first aid kit along. Who knew I would be the one to need it? Well, ok, I guess that’s not really much of a surprise…
Resonate was FUN! And no, not the kind of fun that implies we just sat around and did nothing all day. Resonate was fun because learning and playing music with others is engaging, meaningful, interactive, hands-on, challenging, self esteem-building, and inspiring. It was fun because it should be fun, and students deserve their learning to be fun.
There are many stories that came out of this experience; too many to be told all at once. As we look to the upcoming final chunk of the school year after Easter break, perhaps the stories that trickle out of me and others on the Resonate planning team will help inspire you in your work as you push to the finish. For now, here is a snippet…
What does engagement look like and how do you measure it?
There were several instances in which students emerged out of the typical boxes they normally occupy at school or perhaps even at home. There were students who surprised their teachers just by registering, as the teachers didn’t think those students would be interested in something like Resonate. This came as a pleasant and interesting surprise to them. In other cases, we heard from teachers about students who don’t normally engage in school activity, don’t chase homework and assignments, don’t connect with their regular class instruction. We heard how these students shone at Resonate, how excited they were to be a part of it, how they engaged and connected with the sessions and other students around them. But there was one student story in particular that stuck with me…the story of who I will call Joe.
I don’t know Joe. Joe arrived at Resonate like all the other students, he had no prior history with our staff and no reputation or pre-existing image to uphold amongst the other students. Joe was simply a kid interested in music like everyone else there that day. Throughout the day I saw him several times in sessions, moving between rooms or in the stairwells moving between floors. Joe was noticeable because he carried with him a different musical instrument than most of the other students, which for the sake of anonymity I won’t identify here. Later in the day, I was talking to Joe’s teacher about how the day was going. She pointed out Joe and told me that he doesn’t normally engage in school but was really excited about coming to Resonate. In the week prior to Resonate Joe had received a detailed program which contained a description of each of our presenters and descriptions of each session that would take place during Resonate. The program was about 30 pages in total. Apparently Joe, who doesn’t normally dig in to school work, had read that entire program and was telling his teacher about the various sessions, filling her in, and getting her up to speed in preparation for the big day. Joe’s teacher was all smiles as she told me about this. I could see how proud she was of him and so happy to see him in a learning environment designed for someone like him to succeed in. On that day, Resonate may have been a gift for Joe, but the opportunity to see Joe thrive and engage in learning was also a gift to his teacher and myself. No matter what the resulting feedback or impact would be from Resonate, I knew right then that our staff made the right decision in pursuing this and making Resonate happen.
Joe’s story made me wonder about data. People who know me well will know that I often wrestle with data, in part because often data is twisted, contrived, or simply not scrutinized as deeply as it ought to be, and also because sometimes the conclusions drawn are not in fact derived from the data itself. However, my biggest struggle with data is when we talk about measuring such qualitative and abstract things such as music, engagement, creativity, etc. Elliot Eisner (2002) said, “Not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that is measured matters.” Yet, the reality in our profession is that our world currently desires to understand itself and interpret itself through data; it is what society believes it can understand. This is not to suggest that I believe data to be bad or worthless; quite the contrary in fact. Rather, I believe that great care needs to be taken with data and how it is used so that it reflects accurate information in ways most appropriate for representing the context of the data. This is not easy to do.
So how do I tell Joe’s story through numbers? On paper, Joe is identified as one of the 100 or so students who attended Resonate that day. His presence alone is data that is equitable to the data represented by the presence of every other student that arrived that day. Participation is certainly useful data, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, and certainly participation does not equate to levels of engagement. During Resonate, we saw many students fully engage in music learning. For some students, they engaged fully just as they would with other areas of study back at school. How does that compare to the students who engaged in music at Resonate who don’t normally engage in other areas of study back at school? Do each of these student types still only count as one each? Or is engaging one student through music who doesn’t normally engage in school at all more like the equivalent of engaging say 100 others who do?
Thank you Resonate planning team, I had a blast working with you and can’t wait to do it again!
Andrew Merryweather, Michelle Styles, Will Martin, Kurtis Burnett, and Adam Streisel
A Backlog of Resources For You…
Interesting read on the connection between music and reading ability (Thanks Karen!)
http://www.aux.tv/2014/05/drummers-brains-different/ (Thanks Lori!)
Aboriginal Hoop dancer contact (message me for a phone number): Lawrence Roy (Thanks Adam!)
Pow wow Drumming & Singing Contact (message me for an e-mail address): Desai Walkingbear
Seen the movie Whiplash yet? Check out this bonus clip with some interesting perspectives on music education. https://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2015/02/whiplash-bonus-clip-star-drummers-music-education/#.VRm_v7q4lm8
Pass it on…
If you have students who are interested in drumming, make sure they know about this amazing opportunity!
Kendra’s Road Trip Schedule:
Monday, March 30th – DO all day
Tuesday, March 31st – DO all day
Wednesday, April 1st – DO all day
Thursday, April 2nd – Colonsay all day
Friday – Surfing the waves somewhere south of here…
Monday, April 13th – DO all day
Tuesday, April 14th – Music meeting 1-4 @ DO
Wednesday, April 15th – AM Colonsay, PM DO
Thursday, April 16th – Blaine Lake all day
Friday, April 17th –