by Becky Burdett, ACEMM Spring 2014 Spotlight Award Recipient
When I transferred to my new school in 2015, I found that my students were limited to only small untuned percussion instruments for classroom use. After speaking with some folks at ACEMM, I learned that the Mobile Ensemble was available for loan, and I quickly applied. My application was accepted, and I met BethAnn Hepburn with her U-Haul a few weeks later.
Boxes and wrapping everywhere! Hand drums! Tubano drums! Unpitched percussion! Oh, so, many xylophones- Bars and mallets galore! And the gong….
Before the arrival of the Mobile Ensemble, my students in grades K-4 had no prior experience with and Orff instrumentarium. Needless to say they were slightly overwhelmed by the looks, the sounds, and endless possibilities they were about to encounter. Drum circles gave us the forum to experiment with just playing, not talking, while we began to understand alternating hands. To that end, my own teaching mantra this year is
It has been an amazing journey to watch even my youngest students develop into musicians, using proper mallet technique and expressiveness. Every day I see growth when students can accompany themselves, play an ostinato with a melody, and improvise or create their own work. My students have become stronger, players, and movers (dancers) as a result of having the regular opportunity to make their own music.
It has been an honor and a privilege to have the Mobile Ensemble in my school for these many months. I am grateful to the donors, the supporters, and volunteers who have helped make this traveling instrumentarium a reality. I hope it brings much joy to the next group.
When YOU donate to ACEMM, YOU can be a powerful agent of positive change in the lives of children young and old today and for years to come.
Becky Burdett teaches K-4 general music and chorus in the Abington Heights School District. In addition, she directs two choirs in the Choral Society of Northeast Pennsylvania. Summer teaching includes Music Makers of the Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary, and the Pocono Mountain Music Festival. Her classroom pedagogy blends together the elemental patterns and movement basis of Orff-Schulwerk with the vocabulary of patterns presented in the Kodaly method. She believes that students can be capable musicians when allowed the guided freedom to explore all areas of musicianship. Becky earned her undergraduate degree from Wilkes University and completed her masters’ work at Marywood University. She is a certified Kodaly teacher as per the program at the Hartt School of Music, and is also certified in the Orff-Schulwerk approach through the University of the Arts. Professional memberships include PMEA, AOSA, and the Philadelphia Chapter of AOSA (currently serving as Vice-President). Becky was a Local Conference Committee Chair for the 2016 AOSA conference; she supervised the Boutique for the conference. She has presented sessions at the local, state, and national level of professional development.
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