Performing Musician & Teaching Artist
Tina Bergmann, Hammered Dulcimer Virtuoso
Reflections from the Music Teacher from Tina Bergmann on Terry Boyarsky’s Ohio Arts Council month-long residency at Hershey Montessori:
The residency with Terry Boyarsky has been a joy. On Wednesdays I’ve had the opportunity to observe a master teacher at work. Terry has 35 years of experience and she has honed her craft to a fine art. A song is splintered into elements of rhythm, phrase, and pitch and each element is experienced in a myriad of ways before coming back together as a whole. By the time the “work” has been done, the children are singing the song, they are physically experiencing the phrasing (musical sentences), they are moving on the beat, singing or chanting different phrases of the song as it is passed around the circle; singing it silently to internalize the melody, substituting motions for words, and on. All of this is done seamlessly and with very little verbal instruction or explanation. The children are led to discover it kinesthetically by themselves, and it is only after they have experienced all of the elements of the music through movement that they are discussed. The method of learning the song is the vehicle for musical instruction, and it is all presented as play!
Terry’s method is based on critical listening and discernment. There is freedom and joy in the movement and yet the students must listen acutely for musical cues that lead to, among others, a different movement or a special place on the floor or for a group to take their turn in performing what they have created. Each movement is performed with care and intention; for example, when marching is done, the leg is raised high and the foot comes down flat and not on tiptoes. To perform these movements well when the corresponding music is played appeals to the students, and they rise to the occasion as the music becomes more complex.
The residency has also been an impetus for our teachers to brainstorm and clarify directions for music in the music program and in the classroom. This is another layer of growth and refinement. Could we develop and shape a school community of music? The challenge would be to find music that is engaging across a wide range of age groups, from our very youngest children to the ninth year students. Terry demonstrated over and again how a single piece of music can become a range of experience from keeping a beat with body percussion, on a rhythm instrument, or by a set of repetitive movements based on phrases. Singing, clapping – layers of musical expression – can be woven into the simple pleasure of sharing a song.
This school year has been one of questioning, refining and broadening our view of what roles music can, and does play within our everyday lives. I am looking forward to sharing with students in the coming 2008-09 school year the many new games, songs and techniques I learned from Terry. I encourage you to ask your child about the Artist in Residency. They may have a song or game to share with you or their siblings. I hope you will examine and take advantage of daily opportunities for music making by joining in your children’s songs and games and by remembering ones you played in your childhood.