ABS Thursday Notes- June 14, 2018

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                                  June 14, 2018




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Music should always be an adventure.” – Coleman Hawkins


The music department at the Arts Based School is undergoing a transformation. Two new teachers will preserve the great stuff we already do, including beloved ABS traditions, (Friday Sing, grade-level performances, integrated lessons, etc.) while putting their personal twists on these projects. They will also bring unique skill sets and ideas to the design of a new program that will incorporate music technology, composition, leveled band and orchestra, singing, and integrated music industry lessons such as branding and publishing.


In building these ideas, I have been fortunate to receive inspired and ongoing mentorship from Brian Cole, an ABS dad and board member, and Dean of the UNCSA School of Music, who is a natural optimist with rich experience in envisioning and building new music programs. I look forward to receiving the input of other ABS parents and community music leaders as the program continues to develop.


I am deeply grateful to Ashleigh Cooper for setting a high and elegant standard for singing, both chorally and in productions, to Chloé Micka for her dedicated and perfectly documented development of a demanding bands program, (built on the pioneering work of Peter Perret, ABS co-founder and Conductor Emeritus of the WS Symphony,) , and to Peter Wilbur for his inspired and multi-faceted leadership of the eclectic K-4 program. With the work of this talented, departing triumvirate as starting ground, here is an overview of the plan:


ABS’ goal in music is to develop students who love listening to and making music. They will be musically literate performers who are capable of creatively working with new musical ideas and technology. Our graduates will be skilled musicians and/or informed, enthusiastic, open-minded audience members.


Kindergarten – 4th Grade: Comprehensive overview with an emphasis on joy, creativity, and ensemble participation, with energized focus on standards-based skills progression in music notation and the elements of music. We introduce and work with music of a variety of cultures and times, emphasizing traditional American folk songs. Implementing the Suzuki model of learning note- reading through known music, we sing these songs first, then employ simple notation of those now-familiar melodies, learning to play them on a variety of instruments. Singing in harmony (beginning with rounds,) African drumming, listening, critical thinking, introductory keyboard, recorder, strings and guitar, integrated performances, and concert attendance all may be included. MusikGarten curriculum is included where appropriate. All K-4 students gather monthly for First Friday Sing, when they sing together for half an hour before dismissal.


5th Grade: 5th grade is a “bridge year” in music, with curriculum unique to this grade level. All 5th graders will learn the basics of playing a band instrument of their choice. (Students who are already accomplished through private study of an instrument may try a new instrument from the ABS stock, assist beginners, work on conducting skills, and may also elect to participate in after-school, leveled band ensembles or beginning strings.) 5th graders prepare and perform historic cowboy songs and dances, and Northern Mexican folksongs and dances as part of their performance: Romeo & Juliet on the Border. In addition, 5th graders learn the basics of ballroom dance, through the Dancing Classrooms residency, responding to multi-cultural dance music.


6th Grade – 8th Grade: Students work with the music of our time and our community to provide introductory skills that will develop them as audiences, performers, creators or educators. Focus will be on analytical thinking and project-based learning with a through-line of progressive skills. Song-writing and music production implementing electronic music technology will be introduced. Integrated performances requiring solo and ensemble singing, and projects introducing and responding to current local musical offerings using the Lincoln Center Institute model are included, in which students will prepare for, attend, and respond to local music performances. 6th – 8th students may elect to participate in after-school leveled bands, acapella/glee choir, or beginning strings (and, eventually, orchestra.) African drumming will continue via the visiting artist program.


After-School Ensembles: 6th – 8th students will be offered elective leveled ensembles (band, singing, beginning strings) during after-school classes from 2:45 – 3:35. These ensembles will perform for parents, and some may perform in various venues as community service. Students may progress to upper level ensembles through auditions for the teacher/conductor. Possibilities may eventually develop for more advanced students to rehearse in chamber or jazz ensembles.


Local Partnerships:

Partnerships with organizations such as the UNCSA Community Music School, the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Camel City Jazz Band and others may make lower-priced private or small group lessons and sectionals or group piano studies available at ABS, after school. We hope to partner with accomplished local musicians for “side-by-side” experiences. Plans are in place to develop musical alliances with other small charter and private schools and home school organizations, leading eventually to a large community orchestra program that will allow us to work with more complex repertory.


The New ABS Music Teachers


Mary Boudreault will be teaching music in K-4 and 5-8 band. She has a Master’s degree with 11 years of experience teaching at both the K-12 and University levels. Most recently she taught at Lincoln Charter School in Lincolnton, NC. She has developed and led bands, choral ensembles, and chamber, folk, and contemporary groups. She plays French horn, and sings and plays guitar, especially music from Appalachia, where she was born and raised. She and her husband will be relocating to Winston-Salem this summer.


Angie Allen will be teaching music in 5-8, including strings, band, and singing. She has a Bachelor’s degree with 12 years of experience teaching at 4-12 level. An accomplished violinist and singer, she has taught middle school music theory and orchestra in Oklahoma. She sings, plays keyboards, and fiddles in a blues/country band, and sings, plays electric violin, keyboard and keytar in an indie rock band that performed multiple times at the “South by Southwest” festival in Austin. She is co-owner of a small production company and will spearhead our new music technology program. She will be moving to Winston-Salem this summer.


Afterschool Program at ABS

The ABS Board voted at the June Board meeting to approve the ABS Afterschool Care Program on-site using ABS teachers, support staff, and members of our community.  We will no longer be using the YMCA or Imprints to provide afterschool care.  Our board made this decision not only to support our ABS families with high quality afterschool care but also to provide additional revenue to support our school and its programs.  Stephanie LeFever will be the director of the afterschool program in addition to her current role at ABS.   Stayed tuned for more details and information.  We expect to begin registration in July.


Field Day 2018

It was a beautiful day for playing outside.  The air horns blew and the day began.  They spit watermelon seeds, got dizzy, had their pictures taken, ran relays, danced, completed an obstacle course, and even got wet!  We had a fantastic Field Day!  We’d like to thank April Greenwood, Melissa Rareshide, and Lindsay Deibler for putting together a wonderful field day!   Thanks to the parents who ran activities, provided supplies, helped set up and clean up, we couldn’t have done it without you!  It’s so great to be a part of such a wonderful community.


How Did We Do?

Each year we conduct a parent satisfaction survey and a student survey (grades 2-8) to gauge our success from your perspectives.  We also use these results to understand what’s working and what’s not working as well as we’d like.  Of the 384 families, 60 parents responded.  Overall, 90% of parents are satisfied with the education experience of ABS.   I’ve attached a summary of both surveys if you’re interested in the questions and the results.


Parent Workday in the Garden

Help! We need all hands reporting to rescue our gardens from the weeds!  Please meet Principal Hollis on Saturday morning, June 16, 9-12noon at ABS to trim, weed, and beautify the grounds.


Another Farewell….this time to Whitney Lang.

Mrs. Lang has been our EC “dept” for 15 years.    We will all miss her terribly but wish her the best in her retirement.  With both Mrs. Lang and Mrs. Craver leaving, we will need to rebuild our EC department.  The first piece of the puzzle is Keri Sankey.  Mrs. Sankey will be moving from her second grade classroom into the role of EC teacher for the elementary students.  Keri is a licensed teacher in K-6, Reading (K-12), and EC (K-12).   She has worked closely with the Student Assistance Team for the past few years and looks forward to jumping into her new role.