In case you missed all the fabulous stories at Low Income Housing’s, Meadowbrook View. You can read all my blogs on the Arts Corps website. This video is a continuation of my last post “And so, here we are“. Enjoy! It’s was a groovin’ time.Read More
Beefin, curve, sprung, and fly are just some of the many words I’ve learned this year during our teen time class at the Low Income Housing Institute’s Meadowbrook View Apartments. It’s pretty funny really. I didn’t have the slightest clue what these words meant until I started ‘hangin’ with the teens. And if you’re as clueless as I was, just check out urbandictionary.com.
Teen Time was a special request from the teenagers themselves. They wanted some time away from the younger kids to chill and talk about things that concerned them. Quite frankly, Lynn, Darnesha, and I also used this time as a way to keep an eye on them so as to steer them away from any trouble.
We encouraged them to speak their mind and ask questions. We honored freedom of speech and made a pact of confidentiality (unless it was something that could potentially harm them or someone else) and at their request, we spoke with frankness ourselves. To make it fun, we added a family style dinner twice a month where we would cook, set the table, give thanks, eat and converse without the distractions of facebook, texting, and TV.
It was a hit the first month or so as our group maintained about seven teenagers. It was awesome watching the youth take on responsibility and enjoy being together—but soon the interest started to dwindle. They had more important things to do and a series of unfortunate events rattling our community made things worse. In the end, only two teenagers remained. Two young ladies that stuck it out and really, really, REALLY wanted to be there.
I have to admit, it was discouraging to be in a near empty classroom. Once again, I felt like a failure, totally uncool, and wondering what the hell I’d been doing all this time—but these two girls demonstrated willingness, dedication, and a yearning to learn.
While it was sad that we’d lost some of the other teens, it worked out just dandy. We shared some interesting and in-depth conversations about life, relationships, music, family, friends, and more. Don’t worry, we had some good laughs too, sometimes we just played games and listened to music.
Every conversation was a teachable moment.
Heck, their chicken tacos were darn good too!
More importantly, they learned about positive communication, mastering their socialization skills and growing as young adults.
This was supposed to be a music class, but it transformed into something else. The girls felt cherished and understood and that’s a good thing.
And so, here we are–two years of an extraordinary adventure has come to end. I may never see these kids again, but all I can say is that they’ve taught me to listen with an open heart, temper my words, and meet them at their level. They’ve taken me on crazy roller coaster ride into a new world of teaching…just when I thought I was done with that world. For that I am grateful.
Thank you ArtsCorps.
Thank you Meadowbrook.
Thank you teens.Read More
Well, as we come to the close of another year, I’m posting a few photos from our recent performance at the Arts Corps Showcase. We are so honored to have participated in this event. It’s a lot of work teaching music to a wide age range (4-14) of kids, but it’s equally hard keeping their attention and focus during the start of summer fever! It’s been a long arduous journey over these past two years and the kids have come and gone; nevertheless, it’s been fun watching them learn and grow. Bidding my final farewell to these kids, a.k.a. “The Meadowbrook Crew” at the end of June is going to be difficult; but life goes on and this experience has taught me a lot about myself.
I know I’ll never be the same.
~ CarlaRead More
Well, another year has come and gone here at Meadowbrook View. A lot has changed since I last blogged—new families, new faces, new activities, new obstacles.
We’ve been pretty busy this holiday season with a return visit to Bart Harvey Senior Center for a holiday sing-a-long and cookie decorating with our elder friends. It’s always nice to be invited back to this community and see some familiar faces. It’s always nice to see the kids actively involved in positive things.
A new site we visited this year was Greenwood House. I really can’t get into too much detail with this particular site, but I will say the ladies at Greenwood really needed our company. Eagerly anticipating our arrival they had even prepared cookies and hot cocoa for the kids! Beside our usual routine, we were also delighted to have the vocal talents of one of our moms and our very own, Darnesha Weary! And I invited my friend, musician Nathan Olsen, to accompany our singing.
Seeing the radiant smiles from the women at Greenwood made it all the more worthwhile and it re-confirmed the importance of goodwill towards all and being of service in our community. Afterwards, I visited with some of the women as they gave me a tour of the house and talked about some of their life challenges. Their stories brought tears to my eyes.
The thing is, while it sounds nice that my students went around singing holiday songs and spending time with those less fortunate, we’ve been having some serious problems. You see, just moments before each of these visits, we had issues with bullying.
Yes, that’s right. Bullying.
Here they are pretending to be nice to one another when in fact, that’s not the case at all. One of my girls was in tears because her own brother had been teasing the crap out of her and he even managed to get a few others to join the bandwagon. To make matters worse he along with another one of his buddies, sat laughing at my choir during our performance.
Both Darnesha and I (appalled and embarrassed) stopped the performance, reprimanded the boys, apologized to the elders and the choir, and started again.
Unfortunately, the damage was already done and it was impossible to get my kids out of the slump. They sang happy songs with long faces—what an oxymoron. It’s infuriating to see such disrespect and disregard.
More often than not this job wears me down. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I care deeply for the kids, but these battles are constant and sometimes they never seem to let up. It’s tiresome and you begin to wonder if you’re making any impact at all. It seems that the good things last for a really short while and the bad stuff seems to linger.
I remember getting teased when I was a kid “Carla has a boyfriend! Na na na boo-boo.” But that was it.
Today, kids are brutal.
Bullying is a serious issue in our world and in the lives of our children. There’s a fine line with a harmless tease and seriously hurting someone’s feelings–to the point of something more drastic.
Kids today, don’t seem to get that. I mean seriously, my students and I have had heart to heart talks about this in the past, but it seems to be going in one ear and out the other.
I have to wonder if my students have any idea what they are truly doing to each other.
Once again, we spoke to them about it. If the look on their faces was any indication, all they heard was “blah, blah, blah kids…blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Where do we go from here?
When will this madness stop?Read More
The MusicianCorps Seattle Fellows dedicated a year of service to music learning. A bulk of their time was spent teaching: in school, after-school, in community centers, at low-income housing institutes, to students learning an instrument for the first time, and to professionals seeking to incorporate music tools into their career.
The four MusicianCorps Seattle Fellows reached 234 students with ongoing year-long music learning classes, and over 2,500 community members with civic and learning events.
So what did the students think? To find out, watch this video about classtime during the MusicianCorps Seattle pilot year, and see below to read student reactions.
“Taking care of people … drumming … the bells … meeting people … being able to work together … tambourines … working together”
–what students (aged 5-9) liked from Brazilian Rhythms, the MusicianCorps class led by Eduardo Mendonca
“It’s been good. I enjoy practices. I enjoy the feeling I get when I wake up in the morning and say ‘uh, I got to go to school, but at least I have drumline today.’ He has taught me a lot of stuff. A lot of it has to do with drums, like sticking. But not only drumline … to believe in myself that I can do anything I want if I really try.”
–David Valdez-Lazo, student in Aaron Walker-Loud’s drumline class at Washington Middle School
“I think his energy was really, really important. [Amos] opened up the space. He was modeling what we were going to do. And that was really important in order for us to start taking initiative to actually start seeing what it looks like.”
“It’s made me try new things and understand people better. When you actually sit down and take time to learn about how people are, you actually realize how amazing everybody is.”
“Now I have a stronger sense of self, and a stronger sense of what I need to get accomplished and who I am as a person. We all have these dreams, but who you are is what you choose to do, even if you mess up.”
“I am going to write music about issues going on in the community and perform them so that other people can learn about what’s going on. And to do performances for charities, because that’s what I really liked about being in this group – to play music for something we actually really cared about.”
–students from Youngstown Records, MusicianCorps class led by Amos Miller
“Cool, Inspiring, Fun, Creative, Challenging, Awesome, The people, Carla, My team”
–what students liked from World Rhythms, the MusicianCorps class at Low Income Housing Institute at Meadowbrook View Apartments, led by MusicianCorps Fellow Carla Moreno
A story and interview from the MusicianCorps Seattle pilot year.
In winter 2010—part way through the pilot year—MusicianCorps Fellow Carla Moreno debuted a new class, Early Childhood Education. Up until that time, Carla had been working with (and continued to work with) youth, aged 9-14, at the Low Income Housing Institute, exposing students to world music, new instruments and songwriting. (Read Carla’s blog about her journey with the youth, who wrote a new song and performed at a senior center, Seattle Center and the Triple Door).
The new class, Early Childhood Education, introduced Carla to a different population at the Low Income Housing Institute: parents and young children. Her weekly class included interactive music games, group singing, and exploration—activities which encouraged music appreciation at an early age, and family bonding through music and movement. When I visited Early Childhood Education, I found smiles on mothers, one father and children.
WATCH THE VIDEO of Carla Moreno’s Early Childhood Education class.
To me, these smiles were remarkable given the context of Carla’s work. Her MusicianCorps service site, Meadowbrook View Apartments, is part of the Low Income Housing Institute (or LIHI), an organization that develops and manages “housing for low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington State; advocates for just housing policies; and administers a range of supportive service programs.” Most families enter LIHI out of arduous situations, such as being homeless or indigent, or immigrating from war-torn countries.
As a MusicianCorps Fellow at Arts Corps, Carla had been charged with creating vibrant communities at LIHI through intergenerational and cross-cultural music exchanges, and performances that celebrate the diversity and cultures of all resident families. Through her Early Childhood Education class, Carla did this by bridging the diverse families of Meadowbrook through engaging music and games, and teaching these families to bring that music into their homes. Carla approached this community, and her year of service as a MusicianCorps Fellow, with persistence, respect and love.
“Carla is very disciplined; she is very focused, she knows what she wants to do,” said Lynn DeMarco, Property Manager at Meadowbrook View Apartments. “She raised the bar and [the kids] came up and paid attention and had fun in class. She demands a lot—which I think is really important—she lets them know that they can do well but that they have to give a lot to get want they want.”
On the last day of the Early Childhood Education class, Diana Shomstein, our MusicianCorps Mentor, interviewed a parent who had been in the class. “Her children sing the songs at home, and Shana does especially,” Diana said.” “Her kids love it, especially being able to play the different instruments and hear the different sounds they make.”
I interviewed Carla to find out more about Early Childhood Education. Her answers follow.
JASMINE: How did the idea to form this class come about?
CARLA: The Early Childhood Music class was an idea I had at the beginning of the year, but we didn’t have enough children and parents were busy working during the day. A few months ago, a few families with toddlers, happened to move into the transitional units and the timing was perfect to start the class.
JASMINE: How have you chosen your lessons? What needs do they meet?
CARLA: The lessons are quite simple, yet complex. It’s all about play, exploration, and self discovery all done through a variety of music activities including, singing, listening, and movement. Similar to language, music must be nurtured from very young. Research shows that a child’s best music learning potential, or music aptitude, is from birth to age eight.
JASMINE: What have some challenges been?
CARLA: Attendance has always been a challenge. Many of these mothers not only work, but are attending school; therefore, this poses lots of scheduling conflicts. Consistency is important, but this is the reality of our community. We’ve had to learn to work through it.
JASMINE: What have some successes been?
CARLA: The kids AND parents are indeed learning and actively engaging in the music making process! Research was right!
JASMINE: How has teaching this class strengthened the LIHI community?
CARLA: I believe community is about relationships and that it starts at home with family. To see parents bond with their children is a testimony to the power of music in helping build those solid relationships that last a lifetime. I’ve already witnessed the parents bonding before and after class. It’s great to see them want to stick around and talk, joke around, and just be in a happy place!
JASMINE: What have you learned from your students and parents?
CARLA: I’ve learned that no matter what the situation may be or whatever background these families may come from, everyone deserves the chance to be a part of successful and loving community and have all the opportunities and offerings available to them just like any other community. I’ve also learned that they want to keep the Early Childhood Music program on going! Yeah!Read More