Music Brings Joy
“Music is so important for children at this time,” said Annie Ouellette, Katonah-Lewisboro’s Elementary Band Director. “Music helps lift their spirits when they are anxious or having a rough day. I make sure I surround my students with music that helps them feel inspired and happy.”
While she exposes her students to the theme songs from “Star Wars,” “Disney” and “The Avengers,” they’re also listening to performances that are a lot more personal, too.
Ouellette and her colleague Shelby Amato have been using Flipgrid for the last month because the private web platform gives students the opportunity to post and share videos of their work.
Over the course of four weeks, students have posted 453 videos of themselves playing their band instruments. These videos have been watched over 7,500 times!
“The students love seeing each other,” said Ouellette.
Fourth and fifth grade band meets once a week in each of the district’s elementary schools. To reflect that schedule during distance learning, Ouellette sends a tutorial video to each band member on Monday through Flipgrid. She models new techniques on instruments she has at her home—trumpet, flute, clarinet, saxophone and oboe.
Students have until Friday to post a video of themselves implementing the instruction, always with the option of sharing it just with Ouellette or with others. Most students are excited to share their progress publicly.
This aspect of distance learning delivers an unexpected silver lining for band students from Increase Miller, Katonah and Meadow Pond Elementary Schools. “The remarkable thing is, by sharing their music, the children get to see students from all of Katonah-Lewisboro’s elementary schools,” said Ouellette.
Supplemental lessons enhance the students' understanding of music specifically chosen to bring joy. Fifth graders are listening to a symphony orchestra’s performance of themes from movie blockbusters as well as comparing different versions of “Surfin’ USA” – a piece they are currently learning. Fourth graders continue to grow on their instrument by working on fundamentals through popular children's songs.
“It’s wonderful to see the students truly enjoying themselves and motivating each other to learn music,” said Ouellette.