PS 114 Students Take Part In Music 'Memories'
Many of us remember the popular game show "Name That Tune." Now, imagine years later, elementary school students being able to experience a similar game while sitting in the seats of the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University, with a live orchestra performing. This is the opportunity that several third, fourth and fifth graders from all around the city had on Wednesday, June 6. It is thanks to a program held by the Riverside Symphony called Music Memory, which reaches over 56 schools in the five boroughs.
The program is an extraordinary initiative that seeks to foster a lifelong love for fine music in children. The concept behind the program is a simple one. Its aim is to introduce children to a variety of music and cultivate an appreciation for different musical genres. Over the course of the school year, teachers introduce 16 different musical pieces, which include classical, jazz, opera and choral. Each piece is included with a beautiful visual- a music "map" that is shown to the children. The students also learn several music terms, and the map helps them internalize each piece. Lessons for each selection incorporate all curriculum areas, including history, math and literacy.
For the Music Memory competition, a team of five students and one alternate is selected. As the Riverside Symphony plays an excerpt from a piece, the students in each group have to identify the title of the selection and the composer. The children are challenged at the end with tie breakers, where excerpts from the pieces are changed slightly either through the use of different instrumentation, different tempos, or other methods.
The challenge of the game and the excitement of the live orchestra is a thrilling experience for the children. The students show off their newly acquired knowledge by identifying the works and their composers, often on the basis of a melodic fragment, or even a single chord.
This year's event was a great success. Thanks for funding from the Rockaway Music and Arts Council (RMAC), myself and Elizabeth Featherston (who helped implement the program), our school was able to participate. We were represented by a wonderful group of third graders. The PS 114 children worked hard studying the pieces, both in school and at home. Their efforts paid off, as they won first place in the competition.
All the children who participate in Music Memory, however, are winners. In addition to the ribbons and plaques awarded, they all take home with them the greatest gift of all. A gift they can certain keep forever, a love and deep appreciation for music.
That gift is priceless.