Posted April 9th, 2018 | By A4A.admin
CSMA’s Music4Schools program provides music education throughout schools in the Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Students in the Mountain View Whisman School District perform an end of the year concert to showcase the range of skills they have learned as part of their curriculum. Check out our interview with one of our teachers, Christina Christiansen, to learn more about how she preps her students for the performances.
Christina Christiansen, Music4Schools Teacher
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you come to teach in CSMA’s Music4Schools program?
I went to Ithaca College for music and graduated with a Bachelor of Music, focusing on Voice. When I graduated and moved back to California in 2016, I found CSMA’s Music4Schools program, and it ended up being a great fit. I really enjoy teaching music to young children!
What is the best part of teaching in the Music4Schools program?
For me, seeing the growth of students and their abilities throughout the school year, and getting to know them is such a big reward. Getting the chance to sing songs, learn dances, and play instruments with the kids every week is very fulfilling, especially when they tell me things like, “I’ve had this song stuck in my head all weekend!” or “I taught my sister all of our rhythms!”
What is your goal for the end of the year concerts?
My goal is for the kids to feel confident and comfortable singing a concert in front of their parents, and for the parents to see and hear what we’ve been learning all year. It can be tricky to balance demonstrating learned concepts and performing the more showy pieces, and my goal is to find that balance in the performance.
Why is it a benefit for students to take part in a live performance?
Taking part in a live performance is important for children of all ages because it provides a goal to work towards. Additionally, for the younger students, a live performance can be a good lesson in self control and body control. For older kids, it can be a way to show off more advanced songs, dances, or concepts that they have learned.
Tell us how you prepare your students for their end of the year concerts.
I typically introduce concert songs early in the year, but I don’t tell the kids “this is going to be a concert song at the end of the year!” until a bit later. So, they gain familiarity with the pieces and then, once we are ready to start targeting performance prep we can fine-tune what we have already learned. A month or so before performances, we begin to practice “Performance Positions” which is how and where students stand on the risers! This is important to have memorized by the students, and helps immensely with efficiency and organization when it comes time to rehearse and perform. Then, the biggest part of concert prep is the rehearsal process, in which each grade level as a whole comes together to rehearse for 1 hour each prior to the concert.
What is the easiest part of the concert prep?
Probably the singing, the working on specific details and issues that crop up. The actual rehearsing part is the fun bit!
What is the most challenging part of the concert prep?
Definitely classroom management during the rehearsals. There are a lot of kids in one place, all crammed onto the risers and excited about the upcoming performance! Even if everyone is behaving well, an overabundance of exuberance can cause problems in its own right, and it can be difficult to tamp down the chatter. That’s not to mention any behavior issues that might crop up.
What is your favorite part of the end of the year concerts?
It is SO great to hear and see the final product after all the hard work that the kids, teachers, and I put into the end-of-year concerts. All the progress that the classes have made, and all of the individual, personal progress that the students have made is apparent and it is a joy to see.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
It’s been gratifying to have the perspective of both teacher and administrator (Music School Program Assistant) at CSMA, and it gives me a fuller understanding of the programs we offer - especially the in-school art and music.