The Phoenix Symphony has partnered with ASU Preparatory Academy to launch a program called Mind Over Music, designed to integrate music with something Arizona educators call STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Teachers will be working side by side with symphony musicians to design curricula and team-teach integrated music lessons so students have creative ways to learn and succeed.
“You are part of a new movement,” Jim Ward told students, families and educators who gathered Tuesday evening inside the school auditorium. “It’s something not being done anywhere else in the country.”
“We’ve focused on reading and math to the detriment of the arts,” said State Superintendent of Instruction John Huppenthal. The state’s laser focus on test scores, and emphasis on particular subjects to the exclusion of others, is actually leading to lower performance in many cases, he said.
Students “only get half an education without the arts,” insisted Huppenthal, who cited Steve Jobs as someone who capably integrated arts with technology. Huppenthal also asked the crowd what Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Lady Gaga have in common. (Answer: they all started music training by the age of 6.)
Mark Dix, a violist with The Phoenix Symphony, introduced The Phoenix Symphony String Orchestra. Dix is an active chamber musician and private teacher who lives in Phoenix with his wife and two children. Turns out he began studying music at age 6 as well.
Dix had two students come on stage to sit near the musicians, asking them to think while the music played about what was causing all the sound. He confirmed the answer afterwards by using a large wooden embroidery hoop covered with foil placed against a large speaker (his version of an eardrum) to demonstrate the role of vibrations in creating sound.
The orchestra played several pieces, each time allowing different pairs of students to join Dix on stage. The last two student volunteers were asked to remember principles Dix shared earlier in the demonstration, and each was rewarded for a job well done with a pair of tickets to see a concert by The Phoenix Symphony. Dix’s presentation made clear the value of music in teaching principles of science, math and related fields.
The Phoenix Symphony has decided to move beyond field trips to provide arts education through the curriculum-based Mind Over Music program, eager to take a leadership role in strengthening music education in our state while implementing a program that will yield qualitative data about the importance of music.
Teachers at ASU Preparatory Academy, which is piloting the program, will learn how to use iPods and iPads as tools for music-related instruction. Mind Over Music also incorporates music instruction in classrooms, mainly through an interactive music education website (Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music) that features webisodes exploring music fundamentals, interactive games, and ways for students to compose and share music.
Mind Over Music includes opportunities for students to perform in side-by-side concerts with symphony musicians, enjoy classroom music performances and take master classes led by a conductor or musician. Students, parents and faculty will receive free admission to all Symphony for the Schools concerts and certain main stage concerts as well. Mind Over Music is a three-year program that will be evaluated by an independent, external evaluator.
Click here for information on ASU Preparatory Academy. Click here to learn more about family-friendly concerts being performed this season by The Phoenix Symphony and here to learn more about the symphony’s education and outreach programs.