I became so involved and focused in each session, that I forgot to take any pictures! Oops!
Session 1- Developing Critical Thinkers in Elementary Music, presented by Dr. Cynthia Taggart from Michigan State University
This session was great! Dr. Taggart showed me ways to teach that I would never have thought of. She truly does develop critical thinkers in the classroom. The focus of her lesson during this session was musical form. More accurately, getting students to recognize and determine musical form. There was a section when Dr. Taggart provided note cards with the letters A, B, and C on them and played a piece for us . She then instructed us to line up the note cards according to what we thought the form was. After that, she sang a short song for us and asked what chord roots we thought would fit. Upon straightening out some answers, she had us sing the sequence of chord roots while she sang the melody again. We did this several times to different songs. She chose a few of them that had the same chord progressions to get us thinking about what other songs we may have heard that have the same chord progressions. Dr. Taggart then had us return to forms by having us come up with a body percussion piece with three sections: section A with sixteen beats, section B with eight beats, and a return to the A section. She then had a few groups demonstrate, and it was really impressive to see what several groups of music educators could come up with. This session was probably my favorite.
Session 2- Helping Students Develop Part-Singing Skills, presented by Dr. Cynthia Taggart from Michigan State University
I decided to stay for Dr. Taggart’s next session, and I was not disappointed. She breaks part-singing down into a series of skills: students must be able to audiate, have a basic understanding of meter, keep a steady beat, and be able to hear the harmonic progressions of the songs they are singing. She gave us a handout with exercises for developing and improving these skills. For example, there was a piece where we sang Do (the tonic) as a drone. Another exercise had us singing an ostinato while she sang the melody. These are just a couple of the exercises she gave us. She then kept emphasizing that the teacher must let the students sing on their own, because if the teacher is always singing, the students will be imitating the teacher rather than audiating and learning. Dr. Taggart also advised us to teach melody/harmony before teaching words. She believes students try to focus on the words too much, so to ensure they are thinking musically rather than getting hung up on the words, she teaches melody/harmony first.
Session 4- Orff, Koldaly, and Feierabend, presented by Dr. Becky Morrison from Ouachita Baptist University
I went to a third session, but it was almost completely uninformative, so I will focus on the fourth session I attended. In the fourth session, Dr. Morrison shared her knowledge of Orff, Kodaly, and Feierabend with us. One of her goals was to inspire us to continue our education. Her advice was to do this so that we may have the experience to further the education of our students. Dr. Morrison had us sing and dance in a few activities that showed just how effective simple learning activities can be. They can really help elementary and middle school students understand musical elements and simple musical principles simply by singing a short tune and moving with the rhythm. I greatly enjoyed this session and the presenter!
Overall, this conference taught me many things about aiding students with music. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the presenters and music educators that I encountered. I hope I have the opportunity to return to an ArkMEA conference soon.