Throwing Your Students into the Ring — Weekly Inspiration from Jenny

This week’s Weekly Inspiration post was written by our clarinet player, Jenny, a couple of weeks ago about her experience watching her studio students grow from the lesson room to on stage performances for young school students.  What a wonderful experience to witness and be a part of!  Check back each week for more Weekly Inspiration on the 5HE Blog!


Most of us in Fifth House see a fair share of students each week as part of our work as freelance musicians.   Each week we spend a set amount of time with each student, working on tweaking specific physical issues they might have with their playing, pushing them to improve their technique, encouraging them to create the tone that they really want,  holding their hand as we guide them through the masterworks of the literature, exploring ways to approach extended technique and reminding them to always play with musicality.  As a studio teacher, we might occasionally end up playing the role of career/relationship counselor, and that’s all in the job description.

This month Fifth House is working on an awesome project at Carthage College.  We are offering a course as part of J-Term, which is a one month long semester.  This course is all about the art of presenting chamber music programs to elementary schools.   So far, the students have been guided on the process of creating really engaging performances using our trademark “integrative arts” concept,  public speaking and stage presence.

We are using as a model our very fun “Music Can Tell A Story” program.  This program uses activities to outline the various elements of a good story (plot, characters, setting) and how these same elements are also found in music.

One morning  a couple of weeks ago, some of us Fifth Housers performed Music Can Tell a Story at Julian Thomas  Elementary in Racine for the Carthage students enrolled in this course.  After lunch with them at Chick Fil A (yes, I did participate in lunch and never again.), a couple of the students performed alongside us at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary and Bull Fine Arts in Racine.

Two of the students that performed with us are two of my very own private students at Carthage.  I was struck with pride as I watched my wonderful young musicians that I get to spend an hour to three with every week,  transform into wonderful young musicians that could present with confidence, sincerity and fluidity.  As they got more comfortable on stage, their personalities started to shine through. Even more than that, it was incredible to see them interact with the students and discover how much of an impact you can have on a room full of 3rd to 5th graders in a 40 minute program.

The pride also came from being a part of Fifth House, which made this opportunity happen for them.   The skills that they will be learning and putting into action for their J- Term project will have solid use for whatever path their music degrees will send them on.

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