Friday was the last day of school before March Break. Our Student Council decided to coordinate a Hawaiian Day, our Home and School Association coordinated a Hot Chocolate Day, and we had our class Art Gallery all on Friday. Needless to say, it was an exciting and busy day. To help get everyone in the mood for Hawaiian Day and the dance that was coming up Period 5, the school played some Hawaiian Dance Party Music through the PA system that morning. I love a good dance song, and I especially like fast-paced music, but when the music came on Friday morning, both my teaching partner and I started to feel stressed. We found that we needed to raise our voices to talk to each other, and with a constant hum of music in the background, it was harder for us to concentrate on what the other person was saying. We quickly made our way outside to greet our students, and instead of feeling calm on our way there, we were both feeling stressed. Our only hope was that the musical interlude would not be all day long, and thankfully, it wasn’t.
I share this story because later on that day, we had our class Art Gallery. One of our Kindergarten students plays the cello, and he decided to bring in his instrument to play on Friday. We were going to have him perform earlier in the day, but due to a variety of circumstances, that never happened. We spoke to him about performance options, and in the end, he decided to set-up his cello near his Picasso work: adding a musical component to his artwork. His mom wondered if the cello would be too disruptive at the Art Gallery, but our hope was that with it being set-up in a corner of the classroom, it would draw people to it without making it difficult for people to interact and share elsewhere. This is exactly what happened.
Set-up of the cello with Keith & @ArtsHWDSB. A little addition to our art gallery.
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One of the children mentioned the song right away. @ArtsHWDSB (At our gallery today.)
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It was right after the Art Gallery finished that my teaching partner told me another wonderful story about the cello playing. She said that at one point, he was playing a song on the cello to one of the visiting dads, who was quietly rocking a baby in this corner of the classroom. It was like he was serenading the baby, who was quieting down thanks to the wonders of the cello music.
These musical experiences on Friday have really caused me to think. In the morning, it was music that dysregulated us, but in the afternoon, it was music that helped us calm down. I wonder if it’s the use of micro-environments that makes the difference. If the cello music was louder and shared over the PA system, in the same way as the dance music, would it have provoked a similar reaction in us? How can we use music in different ways, successfully, to help children and adults feel calm? I would love to hear your stories of music and micro-environments, as the cello experience on Friday is one that I would love to recreate again.