Music Workshops at El sistema!
Evan Perry, El Sistema Music Program Director at the East Somerville Community School was awarded a SEF classroom grant to organize performances and workshops by professional musicians for El Sistema Somerville students. El Sistema students were given the opportunity to witness invaluable professional performances at their school. Mr. Perry reported that the experience of working closely during the workshops with these professional musicians produced a noticeable increase in students’ overall self-esteem and confidence.
The two workshops offered to the students were run by Grooversity (Brazilian drumming) and the Arthur Terembula Group (Blues/Jazz duo). The workshops gave each student the opportunity to "improvise" and create their own music. Mr. Perry reported to SEF that Grooversity's workshop was a special one, especially for the younger (beginner musicians). The children were able to dance, sing and play drums along with the professional drumming group. The smiles and conversations about this event for days and weeks after by the students was heartwarming. This has spurred conversations amongst the El Sistema Somerville faculty and staff about how to incorporate more of these expressive elements into daily music classes.
Francesca (Chessie) Shaw, Clinical Coordinator at two Somerville elementary schools received a SEF grant to purchase and try out sand tray and social thinking materials and online training to support social emotional skills for special education students. Chessie found that the sand tray therapeutic sessions were particularly helpful and effective. For many of her students, the sand tray work allowed them to express their feelings in emotions in ways that didn't require them to use as much expressive language as is often required of them in other therapies. For example, one student who is working on building his positive peer relations, was able to work through conflicts with sand tray miniatures.
Chessie reported to SEF that as a result of her experience, “I have become particularly interested in the power of sand tray in working with ASD students--so much so that I have sought out even more specific training on sand tray and ASD students on my own. The therapeutic sand tray work with AIM students was very powerful for many of them, and I plan on recommending that it be continued to be implemented next year with students.” In addition to that, the social thinking materials have been used by many of Chessie’s colleagues, and they have all been incorporating many of the materials in their counseling and speech therapy work.
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