University partnership helps teach music


BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University students are singing and clapping their way into local kindergarten classrooms to explore how children learn to understand music.

Eleven students in an advanced music education class at BGSU each lead weekly music sessions in kindergarten classes at Bowling Green City Schools. Their professor, Joyce Gromko, initiated the program earlier this year.

"All the students have told me they've grown from this experience more than any classroom experience," Dr. Gromko said. "They've all turned a corner where they are really interested in solving the problems they see in their own classrooms."

From the kindergartners' perspective, the music lessons are a joyous time to sing, play instruments, and listen to some of their favorite tunes.

The BGSU students use a teaching method that matches actions and pictures to different musical tones and rhythms. The children learn that music can be represented visually, which prepares them to read notes as they get older.

"We're showing them that they can organize sound," said Brian Maxwell, a BGSU junior who teaches at South Main Elementary. "They'll have a good foundation, so when they get to middle school, we can do more with

the performing ensembles."

Mr. Maxwell devised his own system of symbols to represent different rhythms. The latest symbol he taught the children is that a blue scarf, written as a blue square on paper, shows that there is a pause in the music.

Mr. Maxwell helps the students feel the beat of different songs by having them play instruments or clap on cue. The students often help each other stay on task, and their wide-eyed expressions show they are focused on the lesson.

"The program has been absolutely so successful," said Jean Daly, a kindergarten teacher at Bowling Green's Crim Elementary School. "The music has become a big part of our class."

The district's partnership with BGSU has also brought new instruments into the kindergarten classrooms. Dr. Gromko partners with the Montessori School of Bowling Green, where members of her introductory music education classes practice teaching youngsters. She hopes to continue programs at the Montessori School and the Bowling Green schools next year.

"This program has been just phenomenal. Our kids have learned to be good listeners," said George Offenburg, principal at South Main. "The university students who come to teach here are just so at ease, and they make the kids feel comfortable."

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