ABS Thursday Notes- September 15, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                            September 15, 2016




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” – Albert Einstein


Einstein was, in fact, a musician. One need not take on the rewarding life of a professional musician in order to gain the benefits of the art. Einstein’s regular violin practice fed that famous brain. Learning to read music is a complicated puzzle. Each note represents not only pitch but also rhythmic value. For a new student to interpret both of these values at once, let alone translate it through an unfamiliar instrument, is challenging. This process has been proven, over and over, to benefit students’ brain development. Studies prove that learning to play a musical instrument helps develop neural pathways in the brain.

The 5th – 8th grade music team, Ashleigh Cooper and Chloe Hayes, are fully aware that their challenge is unique. Most bands are electives. Our music teachers have few colleagues who can share ideas for instruction and management of required band.

Teaching twenty children at once how to play five or more instruments is not like anything else. Each instrument requires a different assembly, hand position, fingering, posture, application of breath, and mouth position, but they must somehow sound together as one. Each child with a broken reed or stuck mouthpiece requires immediate and individual attention. It’s not like teaching writing. They’re loud! You can’t circle the room and peacefully speak with each student as others continue working. They can’t practice during study hall, as they can study math. Their mistakes are public, and corrections are necessarily made in that same forum. And then, unlike other subjects, you must somehow unify all of these beginners to play together, with relative accuracy. It is not a job for the faint of heart. Even beginning band teachers who work with elected band are often referred to by parents as “saintly.”

Ms. Hayes and Ms. Cooper, our band saints, love our philosophy in spite of its challenges. They work as a team to support students’ steady growth. They seek new methods of helping every student succeed. They team up to create sectionals by instrument, but the most valuable tool for steady progress is unquestionably daily practice. Students who practice at home, even a little every day, progress much more rapidly and with more confidence than others. Like daily reading, daily instrumental practice at home is encouraged.

The teachers would like students to set goals, track what they are working on each day, see progress and feel success. It’s icky to feel clueless about an instrument while your neighbor plays it well. Some students resort to “faking it” and end up either disrupting class or fearing band, because they feel lost. That’s no fun, and we would like to encourage delight, not frustration! To model success, teachers ask students who are making great progress to describe how and when they practice. They suggest that students experiment when they practice, for example: Assemble that beautiful instrument with delight. Noodle around. How high can it go? How low? Can you make it sound like a frog? A wolf? A train? Play through the exercise as slowly as you can. Now as quickly as you can. Play it backward. Play it while you walk around the room. Now, play it exactly as you’ll play it in band. Three times.

The teachers are developing a drama game to help students solve typical home practice problems, where “friends and family” discourage them from practicing by begging for another video game, requiring chores first, whisking them off to dance class or football. How does a young person carve out a few minutes for a (loud) musical moment?

Obviously, parental support would go a long way in helping students practice. In doing so, parents are helping kids learn that a little commitment goes a long way, and they are boosting brain development, too.


Kindergarten News-Staffing Update

Great news! We’ve hire a Kindergarten Teacher, Nicole Londono, for Ms. Holland’s classroom.  Thanks to all of you for sending along recommendations.  We had some terrific people to consider for the position.


Nicole Londono is a National Board certified teacher with 10 years experience.  She is a bilingual educator, licensed K-6 with most of her experience in kindergarten and first grade.   Her daughter is a kindergartner in Mrs. Rudd’s class.  Mrs. Londono will begin working with Mrs. Holland on Monday, Sept 19 as they begin the transition.


BOG Results

ABS Third Grade students completed the Beginning of Grade test in reading last week.  Your child’s results are coming home today in Thursday packets in a sealed teal envelope.  If you have any question about your child’s results, please contact your classroom teacher.


ABS Scholastic Book Fair

Mark your calendars! The annual Scholastic Book Fair is coming to our school Sept. 27-Oct. 1!

This is a wonderful way to support the school and to help reinforce the joy of reading to the students. The children get very excited about the fair every year. Students will enjoy browsing the fair and creating wish lists with their classes which they will then bring home and will have the opportunity to return later in the week to purchase. Parents are also encouraged to shop all week long! Scholastic matches every dollar of purchases with credit for the school to use to supply teachers and libraries with more books. Click this link:  Book Fair 2016 to sign up for many fun volunteer opportunities. “Get Hooked on a Book!”


Kids and Builders Club

Does your child want to make a difference in our school, our community and our world?


Third graders through 5th graders are invited to join the K-Kids program while sixth graders through eighth graders are invited to join the Builders Club program.  Both are service organizations sponsored by Kiwanis International.  Meetings for K-Kids will take place in the dance studio in MLK and Builders Club meetings will take place in Ms. Tarmey’s classroom on Friday mornings from 7:45 to 8:15 each week.   See the letter attached to this week’s Thursday Notes.


K-Kids Celebrates the United Nations World Peace Day – Thursday, September 21!  This is a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.  Everyone is invited to participate by wearing BLUE.


Parent Council News:

Parent Council Meeting- The first Parent Council meeting will be THIS Friday, Sept. 16th at 8:15amin the MLK Bldg. Cafe. Any questions or concerns contact PC Co-Chairs Lindsay Deibler (lindsaydeibler@gmail.com) or Julee Nunley (julee@thenunleys.net) Everyone is welcome and hope to see you there.

Book Fair is Coming-  “Pirate Island: Get Hooked on a Book”- To both the 7th Street and MLK Bldgs. during the week of Sept. 26- Oct. 1st. We will need volunteers at both buildings, and during the Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1st. Come join us in supporting our school’s library and classrooms by volunteering. Please contact Mackenzie Calhoun (mackenziecombs@yahoo.com) Your classroom rep has sent you volunteer opportunities through SignUp Genius. Thank you for all your support.

Fall Festival- Save the Date: October 1st

Mark your calendars for family fun at the ABS Fall on Saturday, October 1st held at the 7th Street building and courtyard !! Our Fall Festival Planning Committee this year will share the responsibility of hosting a wonderful event for our ABS families and community. We’ll have games, music, food trucks and more!


Around Town…

Mary Siebert performs historic cowboy songs with her band this Sunday, September 18, at 4:00. A chuckwagon dinner follows. The concert is under an hour long. Concert and dinner are free, donations accepted. Unity Moravian Church 8300 Concord Church Road in Lewisville, 27023.



Support out K-Kids and Builder’s Club programs:

Hog Wild BBQ

Saturday, September 17 at 10:30 – 3:00

College Park Baptist Church

1701 Polo Road, Winston-Salem, NC


The FARE Walk for Food Allergy, raises critical funds and awareness each year to create a safer, more inclusive world for the 15 million Americans with food allergies.  Register and give today as an individual, or start a team and invite your friends, family and co-workers to fundraise so that one day we can say FAREwell to food allergies!

WHEN: Sunday, September 18, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

WHERE: SciWorks Science Center, Winston Salem, NC

REGISTERTo register for the walk, visit www.foodallergywalk.org/triadnc2016.


Tickets still available to A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Heidi McIver as Puck. Ticket options: http://www.sharedradiance.org/a-midsummer-nights-dream.html   Wear your walking shoes and enjoy a fun and friendly Shakespeare experience!