Today, I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Daniel Giannone, the music educator at Lincoln Elementary School in Harrison, NJ. I first met “Mr. G”, as he is affectionately called by his students and the teachers, last summer through my niece Dana, also a musician and educator. Mr. G had come to my school with his colleague last month to observe how technology is integrated into the Far Hills Country Day School’s music classes. I was inspired by his and his colleague’s energy and enthusiasm, that I asked him if I could come out on my first day of summer break to observe the music program.
About the School
Lincoln Elementary is a Title 1 school where the students I met were kind, friendly, and enthusiastic. The ratio of student to teacher is about 18+:1. Many of the classes today were inclusion classes that were averaging around 16+ students. The school adheres to a dress code of light blue shirts and tan khakis for the elementary school. There was no air conditioning in the school, so the school had an early closing. The school is located on Cross Street in Harrison, NJ.
Since there was an early dismissal, all of the music classes were shortened. Mr. G teaches in a cafeteria, so when there is lunch, he must push into other classrooms. I was impressed to how well Mr. G set up a classroom in a multi-purpose space.
For the time that I was there, from around 10:30-2:00, Mr G taught a kindergarten, a second grade, and two first grade music classes. He sees his classes two times a week for about 30-40 minutes per class.
Rhythms, Note Reading, and Listening
Mr. G had his classes working on rhythm patterns (composing and performing), note reading (naming notes on the G-Clef Staff-grades 1 and 2), and listening (identifying and writing the sounds found in STOMP). In his kindergarten class, I was very impressed to how the kindergartners could name and write the sounds that they were hearing in the STOMP video. Many of them would tap the cafeteria table to keep the steady beat. When a child became frustrated, Mr. G would assist the child to solve their frustrations.
In grade 1, the students created rhythm patterns using body percussion. As you can see from the examples, the students did a wonderful job creating their patterns. I took pictures of them on my iPad and projected them onto the screen. The students read the patterns and then performed them together. Some of the students added dynamics to their patterns.
In grades 1 and 2, I showed them the app Staff Wars. Mr. G reviewed the note names (lines for grade 2 and spaces for grade 1), and as a class, the students would name the note that was flying across the screen. I told the students that I would press the note name that the majority of the class named. It worked very well and the students loved the activity.
Finally, I showed the students Incredibox. Always a popular favorite, the students loved to use it to create music together. They worked together to unlock the bonus. We also used a portion of their body percussion rhythm patterns to perform with Incredibox.
Dan is an excellent, new teacher. He has the enthusiasm and determination that will lead him far in the world of music education. I look forward to seeing a wonderful program from him.