As most teachers would agree, today’s students are heavily influenced by popular culture. TV shows, video games and music play a huge role in how they view the world around them. For band directors and music teachers, introducing students to different styles and periods of music can be hard. Most teachers are hesitant to bridge the gap between classical music and modern/contemporary music.
But not Katy resident Andrew Redmon. Redmon, band and choir director at the Grace School in Houston, is going to bring the world of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music into the classroom. Through a $10,000 grant from Fund For Teachers, Redmon and his wife, Allison (band director at Houston Christian High School) will travel to England over the summer to attend early music events, concerts and festivals.
“Our commitment as music educators is to develop music students who are exposed to more – music from multiple time periods and styles,” says Andrew.
Funded by private organizations, donors and corporate sponsors, Fund For Teachers awards fellowships for self-designed professional growth to Pre-K-12 teachers who recognize the value of inquiry, the power of knowledge and their ability to make a difference.
“If a teacher is passionate about a subject and deliberately knowledgeable about it, that passion is contagious,” says Andrew.
The Redmons believe they can better teach their students about early music styles, performance techniques and composed pieces through their UK travel experiences.
“If we can show passion for a subject that we have taken the time to study and are knowledgeable about it, students will share in our excitement about that topic, enabling us to teach them music that they would have never otherwise explored,” says Andrew. “That experience is made richer by a teacher who has been trained to expertly guide students in performance techniques that transport them to, say, a 13th century castle’s feast in the middle of the English countryside.â”
Leaving in July, the Redmons will spend two-and-a-half weeks in England studying and experiencing performances of Early Music (Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music ~800 – 1750 AD). They will be attending the City of London Festival, the York Early Music Festival and various exhibits at Oxford University. They also plan to take photos and blog the entire adventure.
“Few experiences open minds and educate the way travel does,” says Andrew. “Studying a world-class group performing in a certain style or with certain techniques is one of the best ways to learn that style or technique. It is experiential learning at its best.”
Andrew plans to incorporate a number of Early Music pieces into the Grace School band and choir concerts next year. In addition, the group will perform “Belle qui tiens ma vie” by Thoinot Arbeau, a piece of 17th century music, jointly with the Houston Christian Band during the HCHS spring concert in May 2012.
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