Dec 23     36 min read

Music Therapy Fundamentals

Updated: Jan 12

 Sarah discusses the fundamentals of music therapy!

Host:  (00:20)

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Jamie: (01:25)

Hello everyone. Welcome back to, I am able I’m Jamie Lord Tobar and today my guest is Sarah

Sarah: (01:34)

Tokazowski: Thank you.

Jamie: (01:36

<laugh> um, horrible at, at name. So thank you for that. Um, so today we’re gonna talk, talk about music and we’re gonna talk about how music affects people of all abilities. So, Sarah, can you gimme a little bit of a background about yourself? Uh, what, what are you currently doing?


So I am currently a music teacher and education coordinator for Encore music and performing arts. Uh, I’ve been doing this for about, uh, like this current role for about five ish months or so. Oh, wow. Um, so my background in education, uh, I taught music in North Carolina for three years. That’s where I’m originally from. Uh, I went to college at ECU and I’m going there again for my grad degree go pirates <laugh> uh, so I taught for three year there and then I came over to California and I have, I worked at total education solutions for three years prior for the last three years, actually <laugh> as an administrative specialist, just learning about the, the back end of education and how that works with tailoring, the special needs. And now I am here in my seventh year in the educational field.

Jamie: (02:46)

Oh, wow. So you like to know a little bit about all aspects of things. Like I, I see that’s

Sarah: (02:53)

Crazy. Yeah. I, I, I like learning about like the thing itself and then learning like, oh, how does that work on this level? And then this level and like just diving, diving deeper. So, yeah.

Jamie: (03:05)

Nice, nice. It’s always good to know all the different aspects. So you said that you’re, um, teaching music right now. So, uh, exactly. What does a music teacher do typically?

Sarah: (03:20)

So a music teacher in like a grade school setting, uh, sorry, my brain just died. <laugh> that’s okay. So every music teacher has a different way of engaging their students in music, in some sort of fashion, web they’re. They are tailoring the education to a performance like a band director in a middle school or an orchestra director, or if they are just trying to teach those base level musical concepts, like this is what rhythm is, this is tempo. Here’s what this style of music is like, tho those very basic level of musical concepts that that’s basically a music teacher does is with those with, with that grade level of student, uh, once it comes to, you know, like you could even have a music teacher working with even younger students, like with early ed students, uh, like, you know, when their birth to three, four age level, I have a three year piano student that I’m working with. Who’s learning how to plunk out. Mary had a little lamb with one finger. So it depends on the student’s ability as well as, you know, how much they practice or what they themselves can tolerate. Cuz everybody like, even as an adult, everybody has a different attention span. <laugh> right. Yeah. And then even for adults, um, one of my coworkers is working with an adult who knows how to play violin at a professional level, but he’s learning how to U to play, um, the guitar.

Jamie: (04:51)

Oh, wow. Okay. So it’s, it’s that much different. Um, I I’m what I, the only instrument I play is the radio. Um, and so I really, I I’ve always been interested in music. My, the rest of my, my siblings all play an instrument and singing. Uh, I do none of that. So I’ve, I mean, I’ve been around it, but I still don’t really quite understand all of

Sarah: (05:13)

It. Yeah. So it’s, it’s a whole bunch of different layers. So you have like, you know, the part of the music that you would sing music is made of a whole bunch of different parts, like the singing. And then there’s the background beat, which, uh, like if you’re working with, uh, an elementary or sorry, early ed level of student to get them that basic level understanding of what a beat is, you could just turn on a song, like any pop song on the radio and say, okay, can we just clap what the steady beat is? Cuz every song has that steady beat, like that heart, we call it the heartbeat of the music, which helps it go. And it’s always steady doesn’t change. Um, yeah. Oh, I forgot where that tangent was. <laugh>

Jamie: (05:58)

So, so the, the steady beat. So how do you get them to like understand what you mean by it? Like a, a beat. I mean, if they’re I,

Sarah: (06:10)

So it’s kinda like, uh, so with, you know, like a second grader, I could say, okay, so you, everybody has a pulse. That’s one of the reasons why we’re living and we’re breathing. That’s what helps keep us moving. Music also has a pulse with younger kids, like kindergarten and younger, I would say, okay, we, we have something that propels us forward. Music also has something that propels it forward and that’s called the steady beat. That’s where you feel like, you know, your body wants to move with the music. So I might even just start instead of describing it, just turn on some music and say, okay, can you move to the music? And because humans are musical creatures, the very first thing we’re gonna do is move to the pulse of the music, rocking back and forth. Like you’ll turn on music for a baby and babies will do that too. Um, so it’s just about showing them what it is and then they’re like, oh yeah, it’s just this, like, you already know what it is. It’s easier to have them do it than explain it sometimes. Okay.

Jamie: (07:09)

All right. Cool. I’m just, I’m thinking also like for our, some of our older students, uh, who have special needs that are nonverbal and for them to be able to, like, you kind of understand that they’ve, they’ve got the concept. If they’re moving to the beat, you know, as, as you know, you’ve asked them to

Sarah: (07:26)

Be listening to yeah. As, as when I’m teaching a class, if I say, okay, I want you to move to the beat that moving could be their clapping, their hands together. They’re tapping something on the desk. They’re rocking back and forth, whatever movement they’re doing. Usually it’s, it’s, it’s sometimes within the pattern of the music. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Or that steady beat. <laugh> nice.

Jamie: (07:48):

All right. So if you have, uh, like, um, um, say you’re teaching a class, who’s like elementary school school and, and they’re primarily typical students. What would be some of the things that you would, um, do with them? What would be some of, some of the activities you might engage them in music with?

Sarah: (08:14)

Great question. So I usually structure, you know, the 45 minute class, last period around, they walk into some sort of music that is slow and quiet. So that way they’re not running into some really fast music. Uh, we do stretches and vocal warmups because your voice is a muscle and you have to warm it up just like any other muscle. Like if you’re about to run, you stretch your calves, things like that. Okay. Um, and then we’ll sing a melodic song after we’re all warmed up and then usually I’ll teach them some sort of concept and some sort of rhythm. So for example, uh, with my third graders, um, last month we were learning about, uh, up dynamics. So dynamics are how loud or how quiet the music is, which you learn. Those words are forte for loud and piano for quiet, but there’s dynamics in between like Metso forte and Metso piano and then louder, which is Fort SEMA, which is super loud. And then P and E SEMA, which is super quiet. So they learn about that through this piece of music called in the hall of the mountain king, which if I play it for you, you’re probably like, oh yeah, that’s, I’ve, I’ve heard that before, but now I have to click my Spotify button and search this up. <laugh>

Jamie: (09:25)

I was gonna say yes, can you please play it for us?

Sarah: 09:27):

<laugh> please hold for technical. Okay. So, so, so this is, uh, this, this is what the sounds like.

Jamie: (09:38)

It starts super quiet. Are you getting,

Sarah: (10:05)

So it starts off PMO, which is super quiet and then it’ll end.

Sarah: (10:21):

So the, so the students learn, you know, through pieces of music. Okay. This is here. Here’s what dynamics are. Here’s an example of what that is. And then we would talk about a rhythm after that. Like maybe learning, Hey, here’s what an eighth note is, uh, you know, a quarter note would be TA TA, and we would show them picture, do that and like, okay. Here’s what a quarter note is. Now let’s talk about an eighth note where instead of TA TA it’s Tady, Tady, it’s a little bit faster. Um, and then we would take those dynamic and those rhythm concepts put them together into either some song that they’ve already learned before. Like, oh, okay. Let’s take this song that we talked about last week and now we’ll sing it loud instead of soft, or let’s sing it once this way and once this way, or let’s take all of the cord notes and make the ma notes. So do doing things like that to have them have another chance of understanding the concept that was learned today. Okay. Yeah. But I almost always try to have them have opportunity to put their hands on some sort of instrument, whether it’s a drum, a xylophone Morocco’s tambourine putting their hands on something. So that way they’re getting tactile engagement too.

Jamie: (11:32)

Okay. So then you can kind of like you’re hearing, you’re feeling all of the rhythm all at the same time to kind of bring it all together. Is that the idea?

Sarah: (11:41)

Yeah. I, at the end, I like to, I like to throughout the entire lesson touch on those different learning styles of, okay, we’re gonna listen to something we’re also going to clap something we’re going to pat something out. We might draw something. So there’s those different levels of engagement. There’s always questions in the middle, just so that way the students can feel engaged. Like, uh, you know, we talked about this note last week, what is this note called? And kid will raise their hand say, oh, it’s like order note. Um, so I just like to, by the end, wrap it all together with okay. Putting all of those styles together and go <laugh>

Jamie: (12:15)

Okay. All right. So, so I, I work in occupational therapy and so we’re always, you know, we’re thinking about, you know, the upper body a lot, but, but, um, the entire body and being able to, um, maintain attention and things like that. So do you also have them like get up and, and, uh, stand and like, like tap their feet as they’re they’re doing all everything else. Okay.

Sarah: (12:40)

Definitely. Yeah. So sometimes it depends on the activities. So there will be some activities, you know, pre COVID I would do dances. They would learn how to do square dancing, or you go in and out the wind where you have like one person with their arms up and the other person with their arms up and then put the arms down. Yeah. So we would do dancing games like that, but now like post COVID, we have to, or not post COVID it’s still here. <laugh> um, you know, just kidding. <laugh>. So during the pandemic, we’ve had to adjust those activities to where instead of having them be collaborative or like team type games there, you know, you’re standing in place and you’re doing the dance in your spot. So I, I, I do like to incorporate dancing and movement of not just your arms while you’re playing an instrument, but dancing right now,

Jamie: (13:29)

We have to be adaptive. Okay. I guess.

Sarah: (13:31)

Yeah. There’s always some sort of adaptation that has to be done. Yeah.

Jamie: (13:39)

Um, let’s see. So, um, what about like older students? How do you keep them engaged? Um, in like a music lesson.

Sarah: (13:51)

So pacing for adult students is going to be little bit different, uh, working one on one with it, with an adult student, usually they will come and say, they’ll say, oh, I would like to learn something like this. And you just kind run with that. Like, they’ll feed you one thing that they wanna learn and then it’ll keep going from there. Well, like it, I have an adult student that says, you know, I really like, and I wanna learn drum songs and play like, you know, the, the drummer from queen. Okay. So you can definitely work around that and say, oh, let’s try this one. Um, in terms of just general music education, um, what, what I like to do with the older students is instead of just, you know, doing a lecture where, okay, we touched drums here and then we do this here, and then we do this here, like getting some sort of instrument in their hands.

Sarah: (14:43)

So they’re getting that, um, tactile involvement all the time. So doing like band or orchestra, learning some sort of string, uh, there’s actually research studies that as you get older, one of the ways to prevent, um, like early onset Alzheimer’s is to keep your mind engaged. And one of those ways to do that is to pick up a new instrument and learn how to play that new instrument. Cuz you’re learning how to read music. You’re using both sides of the brain by reading and playing it at the same time. So there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of good stuff that happens with playing an actual instrument when you’re older.

Jamie: (15:17)

Oh, wow. Okay. So I guess I need to get started on that. <laugh> I’m gonna be soon. <laugh> Good to no, yeah. I there’s. No, there’s no excuse that. You’re never, you’re never too old to learn. That’s that’s absolutely true. And I would, and I would imagine, especially since we are so just engulfed in music everywhere that yeah. I mean there’s no way around.

Sarah: (15:46)

Yeah. There’s there’s music everywhere. Every single movie you watch, every single commercial could, the commercial has intentionally written music to get your attention. So there’s psychology around, you know, you want to make sure that it’s something that’s gonna be catchy and quick, that’ll get your attention. Like, uh there’s um, you know, the best part of waking up Well’s in your cup, that’s like commercial from like the nineties and I can still just like right. Yeah. It’s there. Yeah. <laugh> yeah. That’s catchy. It’s familiar. Um,

Jamie: (16:18)

Yeah. <laugh> right. Yeah. I think, I think I can still almost recite all 50 states in alphabetical order from the song I learned in like second grade. Oh yeah. <laugh> I won’t do that for you because then I’ll mess up. So <laugh>

Sarah: (16:31)

I know the exact song you’re talking about. That’s the exact song that I learned. <laugh>

Jamie: (16:36)

Maybe it was third grade. I don’t remember. But it was, yeah, it was a few years. It was a few just a few years ago. Not that many. Yeah. You know like

Sarah: (16:43)

Two years ago maybe,

Jamie: (16:45)

Right? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, so for those of us who are not very musically inclined, but like I have, um, different students and clients that I work with who are musically inclined and sometimes they want my help in, in finding ways to, to, um, be able to play different instruments. Um, like, uh, um, I have, uh, a student who likes the piano, but I don’t know the keys. And he, um, plays with, with two fingers mm-hmm <affirmative> so I don’t know if it would be easier for us to do something like mark the, each of the keys, um, and then just have like letters for him to look at, or what’s like the best, what would be the best way to start? I mean, just trying to figure something like that out. So

Sarah: (17:48)

A good way to start, they have stickers that you can purchase or you can get one of your musically inclined friends to help you. Uh, the way that we do it for our younger students is we get like the different colored stickers. So, um, the musical alphabet is a, B, C, D E F G. And it recycles over again. But when you start learning piano, start learning C cuz it’s middle C’s in the middle of the piano. Uh, so you would get, uh, a red sticker for C and then orange for D yellow for E and then go the different rainbow colors all the way back up to C and there’s uh, music books, uh, for piano that you can get that are also color coordinated to those colors. Um, um, so that’s something that can help and there’s plenty there’s

Sarah: (18:33)

Instruction, instruction books are probably the best way to get started, cuz they have pictures to help you of like, okay, so to find middle C you’ll have two black keys and three black keys. That’s how a piano goes. There’s all white keys. And then above the white keys are two black and three black keys and patterns all the way up. Um, so to find C you find the two black keys and then there’s gonna be a white key to the left of the left, most black key and that’s middle C. Okay. So you can, so there’s two black keys all the way around. So that’s one of the first lessons I do with piano is here’s what C is. Can you find C and then just finding the recogni of like, okay, there’s a seat here, but there’s also one up here and there’s also one down here and there’s about eight other ones on the piano too

Jamie: (19:24):

<laugh> . Okay. And so there’s like, um, I probably should have a friend that’s musically inclined to come and help me

Sarah: (19:30):

well, if you wanna just like send me a picture or something, I can give you my number. You can so

Take a, that would make sense too, to take a picture and send it to all right. Thank you. I appreciate that. Definitely.

Jamie: (19:40)

Okay. And then, so what about like if they, um, I’m trying to think of like, if they want to learn how to play the guitar, but we don’t have a guitar, um, handy. What is, uh, something else that we could use until we could like get a guitar is

Sarah: (19:57)

So something else you could use instead of a guitar? Um, the, one of the cheap ways could be, uh, like a, uh, paper towel inside of a paper towel. Okay. Uhhuh <affirmative> you could just flatten that and that’s a, about the size of a guitar neck, and you could put the strings on there, but the oh cool. You could not like the actual strings, but could just like draw them on there. Right. And that could help you figure out, okay, this is where this finger needs to go. This is where this finger needs to go. Just to kinda get started before you can afford this. Yeah. Getting

Jamie: (20:29)

Used to it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>

Sarah: (20:31)

Okay. But the, the best thing would be to just get the actual instrument, but I understand that not everybody can afford it. There’s plenty of, you know, a, um, if you go to, um, like a music in arts or Burt’s music or something like that, they, you can rent to own the instrument, um, or black Friday’s coming up. Well actually, no black Friday is gonna be gone by the time this episode might be up. So, uh, there, there’s plenty of alternatives out there to guitar too. Like I, I personally cannot play guitar. I just don’t know what it is. It gets into my hand and I just, yeah, I freeze up, I, I, there’s some sort of mental block, but UK ukulele is much smaller. It’s cheaper has four strings instead of, um, I wanna say guitars have six <laugh> six, but I feel bad not knowing that off the top of my head, but um, oh

Jamie: (21:22)

Yeah. So ukulele, that would be, yeah.

Sarah: (21:24)

Ukulele is smaller. It’s better for smaller hands too. It’s um, it’s probably about like this big <laugh> I’m holding up my hands audience. Can’t see it, but

Jamie: (21:32):

It’s OK. Yeah, that’s fine. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So that’s good. Yeah. Um, it’s always good. At least in my experience is to learn something that’s a little, uh, less calm, complicated at the beginning and then like work your way up. So that would be a great alternative is yeah, you mm-hmm <affirmative> so, and then, so what about like translating like a xylophone to piano? Is that like a good transition or

Sarah: (22:07):

Absolutely. So xylophone, uh, generally only has the white keys, which would be C, D E F G a, B, C, D, whatever. Um, and most xylophone that you purchase, come with the letters already on them. So if you get some music, uh, even if you don’t know how to read music, there’s, uh, certain, um, you can search for an image of, um, letter they’re called letter note heads. It’s where instead of just like the black circle with the line on it for a quarter note, it’ll have the letters name written inside of it. Okay. So that would be a, that would be, um, an easy alternative to like, you would eventually learn how to read music by there, but that could get you started with, came on a play on the xylophone. Um, but you could use any sort of xylophone, like if you go, you can get one for $20 at target. Cause you know, children’s xylophone and like the baby section of target is still XLOPHONE <laugh> right.

Jamie: (23:06)

That would be my speed. So yeah.

Sarah: (23:07)

<laugh> And there’s, there’s no shame in Learning.

Jamie: (23:12)

I’m gonna get started on learning that, uh, that instrument. Yeah,

Sarah: (23:16):

Right away. EV everybody has to start somewhere and there’s no shame in wherever that is exactly.

Jamie: (23:21)

<laugh>. Now, can you give us, um, uh, any more, some other examples of like, like ways that you, um, maybe, um, as a music teacher that you’ve been able to, um, kind of include, make, include everybody to just make like your lessons inclusive, um, to people of all abilities like, um, the younger kids.

Sarah: (23:51)

Absolutely. So I I’ve recently been reading a book called music and special education and it’s by two music professors, uh, Mary S Adam, um, and Alice and Dar who I actually met Darrow a couple of years ago at, um, a music seminar. Um, anyways, uh, so I, there was a chapter in here that went over different accommodations that you can make or, or strategies for successful inclusion. Okay. So one of the things that I really liked that I didn’t realize that I do, it was called universal design for learning, which is essentially you make accommodations for the entire class. So that way that one student doesn’t, or if there is just one student who needs accommodations, they don’t necessarily feel left out. So for example, if I’m doing a rhythm activity where I want everybody to play drums, but sus Z, for whatever reason can only hold Moroccans instead of play drums, like the rest of the class.

Sarah: (24:50):

Okay. Instead of having that be the situation, I would split up the class and say, okay, this half of the class is going to play drums. And this half of the class is going to play Moroccos because when you’re learning rhythms, it doesn’t necessarily matter the, like whether you’re playing a drum or a Mor you can still play quarter notes or play ACE notes on that. Um, so trying to keep your lessons tailored to, um, allowing all students to engage at all levels, because we’re always reading, singing, playing, listening, um, one of the things that I’ve done to help with that, um, you know, I personally struggle in this current era where everybody has masks on. And if there’s somebody who mumbles, I cannot understand what you’re saying. <laugh> right. So to help that with the students that we have, uh, I wear a headset in the class and it’s a speaker that’s attached to me.

Sarah: (25:41)

It’s, it’s a battery headset, um, that I plug in and charge every day. But that headset helps to make myself sound more clear for the students cuz I know otherwise they, they would be struggling in some capacity too. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But doing, um, so universal design for learning, um, there was a section that I had underlined, uh, UTL is the flexible design of instruction, instructional materials, a, an evaluation of student learning that can be used with all students without need for specialized designer adaptation. Uh, another section of this chapter talked about collaboration. Um, so if you’re a te if you’re any teacher, if you’re a parent talk to the IEP team of your child, because they, they know your child just as well as you do. And you can all talk collaboratively on how maybe instead of participating in a 45 minute class, because someone might get, um, a little bit cranky after having all of that sound stimulation.

Sarah: (26:44)

Cuz I have a few students like that. Um, maybe instead of coming for the full 45 minutes, they come for half the period and then they go for a five minute break and then they come back. So that way they can get that, um, that reset from the, the sound stimulation or maybe just there’s some instruments that you just don’t play for that particular class P um, another thing is adaptations. So maybe pairing, if you have a student who just needs more one-on-one attention that you can’t necessarily give, if you have group projects, pairing them with a friend or, uh, do video recordings. So that way in between classes that student or the entire class has something that they can watch to practice. Like for us, we have a performance that we’re doing in March, but we only get to see the students once per month.

Sarah: (27:29)

Oh wow. So we recorded all of these videos. So that way they would have something to practice along with and it’s just setting them up for success. So that way they have a good performance and they have a just overall a positive experience. Um, you can also print music or just any sort of hands out in larger font, uh, allowing them more practice, time, learning time, or just more time to respond to questions. Um, or even just assigning a student as a student helper. Um, this year I had a student who I have had to assign as my student helper because it’s something that I did now. He looks forward to it every single class period. So when, uh, I pass out the rhythm sticks, he’s like, miss Sarah, can I do this? Like, of course you’re my helper. Let’s go. And that has kept him out of trouble since that first class period. Oh wow. Just him having that one little thing to look forward to.

Jamie: (28:22)

Oh, that’s so nice. That’s so nice. So you said rhythm sticks. What are, what are they, uh, what are rhythm sticks?

Sarah: (28:29)

So rhythm sticks are, uh, they’re built, they’re a little bit different than drumstick. They’re still made of wood, but they’re these big, chunky cylinders. Okay. That are probably about like, um, say like about 18 inches long, but it’s larger. So that way students with smaller hands or any sort of, um, fine motors challenges would be able to, to grab it and, and play it. So it’s easier to grab.

Jamie: (28:57)

Okay. So they’re kind of like what I would think of as like a Baton maybe, but yeah, but shorter. Yeah. Oh, okay. Cool. Rhythm sticks. Cause I, I was picturing like, like a rain stick for some reason. <laugh> so, so what are, so what are the, um, some of the instruments you use with, with like, with your, with your kids, with the, I guess I would say, you know, like middle school and younger, what are there instruments that you use with everybody? Like the rhythms, the rhythm sticks and the Moroccans and the tambourines.

Sarah: (29:31)

Yeah. So, uh, I like using drums. Cause if you whip out drama, it’s like, oh man, this is the best day ever. Right. <laugh> it’s like I get to hit something and it’s okay. Yeah. Um, tambourines are also fun. I like to use tambourines and any sort of like jingle bells sparingly because I’m finding that, um, those instruments have a higher Tamber, so they’re, they’re more high pitched and more jingly. So those are the types of sounds that are more likely to make the sound, make a sound sensitive students. Um, okay. Trigger them so to speak. Okay. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so I like to use those instruments more sparingly, but uh, Moroccos rhythm sticks, drums. Um, uh, xylophones are another good one. Uh, we have, um, they’re called Orff instruments because this guy, this wonderful musician, Carl Orff, uh, designed mambas, which is like a, like a piano, but it’s made out of wooden bars or resin bars, just different material. Um, and he took that and made it in elementary scale. So it’s a XY for one that’s made out of either wooden, um, wooden bars, which they just call xylophones or metal bars, which they call metal telephones. So again, like those sound sensitive students would not get them at telephones because they just have a certain, they vibrate a certain way that just right. Doesn’t feel great on the ear drums. So, uh, those wooden ones are a lot more soft sounding. Oh

Jamie: (31:03)

Wow. I had never heard of the wooden ones before that. What a great idea. Yeah. Cause it’s a little bit different sound, but you get the idea and it’s yeah, definitely. That makes sense. That’s that’s really neat.

Sarah: (31:13):

Yeah. And then for like middle school students, that’s usually when we start to get into the, do you pick chorus where you’re singing and, and maybe playing like some pers percussive instruments or do you do band where you’re learning flute, uh, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone tube, but like those types of instruments or do you do orchestra where you’re playing, uh, a violin, Viola, cello bass, something like that. So it, it just depends on the child, but whatever instrument they choose, there’s some sort of accommodation out there to be able to help them. Uh, like I’m a part of on Facebook, there’s this band director’s group where people will post, um, three things that they have 3d printed to help out their students. Um, there’s this one director who had, excuse me, uh, a student who, uh, broke her arm, but said, Hey, I made this thing that allows her to still be able to play the trumpet.

Sarah: (32:11)

And it was just like this pole that got stuck into a music stand and she was still able to play with the other hand. Um oh, wow. So, yeah. And he was like, this is all that I did to make it here’s the, like the PVC plans or whatever that I use. Oh. Or, um, so cool. People who have 3d printed stuff. Um, yeah. Like for, uh, a recorder, which I wanted to show you what a recorder was. It’s it’s, it’s this thing <laugh> okay. So, uh, it’s got holes that you put your fingers on, but there’s things that you can 3d print to make the holes easier to cover. Cause playing recorder is all about, if you don’t cover the holes, right. It’s not gonna sound great. So for students who have smaller fingers or students who have difficulty moving fingers in, there’s definitely ways to, there’s something you can really that’ll help with with that being able to cover the stuff.

Jamie: (33:05)

That’s really neat. That’s really neat. So we’ve talked a little bit about, we’ve talked about all different kinds of things about music. So, um, in your, um, from the time you start one of your classes until the, the end, do you see like a big difference? Not only in like the students, as far as like their musical abilities, but maybe other aspects of, of the class or have you, has that been your experience? Have you noticed a big change from like the beginning, I guess even just like musically from the beginning of your classes to, to the end for your students, like they have their aha moments and

Sarah: (33:52)

That, that’s a great question. <laugh> um, <laugh>, it, it really depends on the concept being taught, uh, with things that are more black and white, like, you know, this is loud, this is soft. Kids have an easier time of grasping things like that. But when you get into things that are a little more obscure and less concrete, like, um, like different temp bows, uh, you have Largo and Presto. So, uh, there’s this cartoon that I show them of, you know, Largo is the turtle and Presto is, uh, the, the bunny rabbit usually. But in this cartoon, Largo is a bunny rabbit. That’s just going so slow. Cuz he decided to eat a whole bunch of cupcakes before the race. And then the turtle’s the one that’s really fast. Oh wow. That sounds confusing. So sometimes that can confuse them, uh, because I’m like, oh no, the bunny rabbit’s supposed to be fast.

Sarah: (34:50)

Why is the bunny rabbit not fast? Um, right. Yeah. So there’s, there’s things like that. And then, uh, when you start talking about, uh, Tamber, like things that are higher pitched lower pitch, uh, you know, I usually have to say, you know, higher pitch notes are like Mickey mouse <laugh> and then, uh, you know, your lower pitch notes are, uh, like wait on here, like super low. But um, even having them demonstrate that sometimes students have difficulty with that. And that’s usually not something that, you know, once it’s introduced, it might take three or four class periods maybe even entire year for a student to be able to grasp that. Yeah. But the goal of like my music classes isn’t necessarily, we’re gonna teach you this one concept and you’re gonna learn it right now. Like that’s all you’re gonna learn. Um, it’s usually over a period of time because I don’t want them to just learn that one thing.

Sarah: (35:39)

Cuz music is like a rounded thing. There’s so many different pieces and just one class period can’t teach like just one thing. Um, so I like for my students to be able to, they walk in it’s a positive environment. Um, nothing you do is ever wrong, even if there’s a wrong note. It’s oh, that’s okay. Let’s try it again. Let’s try it one more time, but do it a little bit differently. Um, because when you, when you come at a student and say, you know, like, oh, you played a wrong note here, do it this way. They sometimes that’ll just feed the student may shut down at that point because maybe they’re not looking for that sort of nugget. Um, maybe they’re looking for oh, like that was, that was a great job. How about we try this? So just don’t even address the negative behavior at all. Just say, okay here, just, just change this thing.

Jamie: (36:29)

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I mean we all make mistakes, so I mean absolutely. And that’s the only way we re we truly learn, so. Yeah,

Sarah: (36:38)

For sure.

Jamie: (36:39)

Right. Um, let’s see. So I did have another question. Hmm. Sorry. Now I’ve, I’ve, I’ve lost, lost my train of thought. Um, well we’ve learned a lot today. Oh, I know what it was is I never asked you. So how <affirmative> typically, how long are your classes? So you were saying the one, the one class is just once a month or that’s a club.

Sarah: (37:12)

So, uh, my coworker and I are currently teaching music at San Marino unified. So we’re at, uh, the two elementaries schools that are in that school district and we swap between those two schools. So we’ll teach two weeks here, two weeks there, but then we’re back two weeks later. So each class gets one. They, they each get one class per month and that’s 45 minutes. Yeah. But then, but then I also teach, uh, individual students. So, you know, like every, I have somebody that I teach after school. Uh, but they get either 30 of an individual, 30 minute lesson to learn an individual instrument or like I have some piano and voice students. Okay. Um, or they will do a one hour once a week lesson.

Jamie: 37:57)

Okay. All right. Yeah. So those would be, yeah, it would be really hard to see much of an improvement. Just seen some of the students just once a month. Wow. Just once a month. That’s

Sarah: (38:08)

That’s what those videos are for those videos are gonna save the performance

Jamie: (38:12)

So important. It’s a shame that they only get, you know, exposed to, to uh, your class just once a month. Wow. Yeah. Okay. Well, it’s been really nice chatting with you. Um, is there anything else that you want, uh, you would like our listeners out there to know about music and how important it is for people of all abilities <laugh> is that not a seriously, uh, loaded question that would, that might take you a long time. That’s

Sarah: (38:40)

I mean, I mean, that is a loaded question, but music is just so great for students of all abilities because music is like, no, no other creature on this planet makes music the same way that we do birds use music to communicate. And so do humans, like we could, uh, I could go to a place where I have never spoken that language before. Like if I go over to Italy and sit in with, with, um, a band or an orchestra and be able to play my flute with them without ever having to communicate with them. Cause I just say, okay, uh, they they’ll point. And then we just start playing music and it’s, it’s, it’s just a feeling that can’t be described of being able to right. Just make music with somebody without having that communication barrier. It’s also a great way to express yourself. Um, you know, for, I had a train of thought and it left me the train left the station. Uh

Sarah: (39:37)

Music is a great way to put feelings into words. So if you have a student who is diff, who has difficulty expressing themselves, uh, maybe you could, um, you know, take different songs and say, oh, do you feel more like this song? Uh, you know, like, um, the it’s by ever Greek, what’s it called? Uh, morning. Um, it’s like, it’s from a, like, you can take any classical piece of music from a bugs bunny, from a bugs bunny cartoon. Okay. And take it and put it to some sort of mood and say, okay, do you feel more like this one or this one? And they can just like point, um, but it offers a level of expression that words can’t. Oh yeah. So it it’s great for all, all peoples, not, not even just students, everybody to be able to li just listen, listening to music, to be able to express themselves. Um, you don’t even have to perform music to be able to express yourself. You can just say, oh, Hey, like I really like my chemical romance or I really like, uh, you know, listen to classical music or I really like listening to queen things like that. And that can also help you connect with other people. It’s a great, um, talking point for starting a conversation.

Jamie: (40:48)

Mm-hmm <affirmative> cool. Cool. Yeah. Like you, you had said earlier, I believe that, uh, everyone is, is actually a, a musician is just absolutely. Some of us just play of the radio, but I actually, I, um, I play some air guitar and some other things, you know, I like to bang on the drums.

Sarah: (41:07)

Yeah. Like everybody, everybody feels music in some capacity. And like you said, we are all musicians in our own. Right. Whether it’s we just move to music or we play music or we’re we listen to music or we play the radio it’s we all, we all do it in our own way. Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Well, thanks for having me. It’s been, it’s been great chatting about music.

Jamie: (41:29)

Yeah. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. And thanks everybody for listening.


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