As I sit in the auditorium and listen to the harmonies created by a talented and dedicated group of high school students, I can not help but wonder about the complexity of the process of learning to sing and learning to harmonize with a group. Certainly there is guidance and practice, but I am more fascinated by the ability of our students to take risks in their learning. After all, their final is the concert in front of many hundreds of people. Are these risks able to be replicated with the same quality in the English, math, science, social studies or foreign language classrooms?
The difference of the learning environment is also interesting, nothing like a content area classroom, but learning is able to be heard, observed and even felt. While there are no rows of students sitting in uncomfortable sled desks, there is a general organization of the group and their process to present a moment of beauty and emotion not found in many other classrooms. The ability to bring many levels of individual learning together to a high impact product that can almost immediately resonate with anyone in the room is the assessment of learning at its best.
The Performing and Visual Arts classes are often places in our school where we “forget” about the learning process because the learning is often equated to making. Making music and making a project is truly the encapsulation of learning. The idea of instruction, practice, guidance and talent coming together to produce a beautiful product is sometimes forgotten as if it all just happened to work out. As we experience the beauty of the end of the learning journey, the performance, we also need to keep in mind the teaching and learning that made the final product come alive.
The power of the voice, instrument and performance coming together to elicit that emotion within the audience is, at times, awe inspiring. As I sit and listen this morning, I am the only member of the audience, but I still feel the emotion change as the voices erupt into song. As the class ends, there are some final words from the teacher about the upcoming performance, “just enjoy it”. I look forward to another amazing concert from our Band and Chorus and I know I will enjoy it!