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Article
Serendipity and Persistence: A Journey Building a Rich Music-Making Culture in Public Schools
Critical and Creative Thinking Capstones Collection
  • Constance Cook, University of Massachusetts Boston
Date of Completion
8-31-2011
Document Type
Open Access Capstone
Degree Name
Master of Arts (MA)
First Advisor
Peter Taylor
Community Engaged/Serving
No, this is not community-engaged.
Subject Categories
Abstract

I am a music teacher in the public schools. This synthesis project presents a Practitioner’s Portfolio to convey my efforts over the last decade and more in pursuit of a rich culture of music in public schools. Readers should see someone who persists when faced with personal, pedagogical, intellectual, and institutional challenges. Moreover, that persistence is conducive of the serendipity through which opportunities open up to be an agent of change. What is also evident to me as I assembled the Portfolio was that the Kodály model of artist, scholar, and pedagogue seems to have been the underpinning for much of my journey of inquiry and practice even though my formal Kodály training began some years after this journey starts. Part I is a narrative describing the path of events and thinking on this journey, which continues to this day. This account includes explorations into the power of opera, bones playing, jug band, and Kodály pedagogy to effect change and create unforgettable experiences in the music classroom. One has serendipity again and again, but one must be open to it and catch the bright wave, to revisit, explore and develop more experiences for teaching and learning that fit the particular culture of the time and situation. The act of persistence, the witnessing of what is unfolding and where the tendencies and interests are, encouraging and nurturing them as well as the act of letting go, can create enormous depth and richness to a culture of music for a school or community. Part II presents some persistent or emerging undercurrents informing my theory and practice, which range from centonization to leverage, from shaping by successive approximations to differences of aesthetics among students that allows me to work more freely. Part III presents some exhibits of my practice, which include: use of the Mexican singing story and picture book, “Senor Don Gato,” to teach about opera, given that it has the same dramatic elements; the development of an opera program that was instrumental in changing the social climate of a school; the use of a singing game to build strong and cooperative community in a class new to me; and the sharing of these ideas and their potential with colleagues at Massachusetts Music Educators Association conferences, where I have presented regularly. Part IV discusses my next steps as Scholar, Pedagogue, Artist, and, I hope, Writer. These steps range from having more singing in schools where I teach to refining a once weekly Kodály curriculum, to creating a musical presentation based on Greek mythology with my fifth graders, to establishing an effective practice of writing and documenting my inquiries more regularly and effectively. The Appendices provide some further illustrations of my practice: The development of Kodály primers for young American students; the development of my personal artistry through Little Blue Heron, a duo that worked with children and included them in performance; and the development of a richer music educators’ community through regular presentations to my colleagues and the reviving of Round Robin, the newsletter of Boston Area Kodály Educators.

Citation Information
Constance Cook. "Serendipity and Persistence: A Journey Building a Rich Music-Making Culture in Public Schools" (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/constance_m_cook/1/