Our guest blogger and volunteer from Italy, Giulia Molteni, reflects on her 9th day with the YOURS Project:
Delving deeper into the YOURS Monroe faculty, today I'd like to introduce you to the brass teacher, Jessica Pearce!
Giulia: Jessica, I'd like to find out more about your musical background and your previous teaching experiences. Is this the first time you have been involved in an El Sistema-inspired program here in Chicago?
Jessica: This is my first time working with an El Sistema-inspired program
in Chicago, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. I've mostly taught
private lessons in the past at nearby high schools, my home, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. In May of 2011 I guest-taught at the YOLA program in Los Angeles, which is an El Sistema-inspired program led by Gustavo Dudamel. I really admired the leaders of that initiative because they built an amazing program out of nothing, all for their love of music and children. I wanted to be a part of something like that, so I am very thankful that I now have that opportunity through the YOURS Project!
G: Great! So, we know that an El Sistema-inspired program works with communities to immerse young players in intensive ensemble-based music education. Last week, I observed you and the others teachers playing with the students during the classes and I really enjoyed it! How do you feel when you both teach and attend sectional rehearsals, being part of the group?
J: Being a part of the team at Monroe Elementary School feels really
great. I like learning from the other teachers and feeding off of
their energy. Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut with our own
playing or teaching and teaching with a team means that you get to share lots of new ideas.
Leading a group of kids in sectionals is challenging and really
satisfying to me. By striving to challenge the children, I challenge
myself to be more enthusiastic, engaging, and effective. I have to
project my confidence and my love for music so that I can give my best to them. I also just have to let loose and not be self conscious. I'll sing, dance, clap, yell, or talk in a funny voice if it means that I get my ideas across in the best way.
G: I find that, for a beginner, one of the most difficult things to work on is intonation. How do you help your students to devolop a good sound?
J: We have a lot of brand new brass players in the program- which is
very exciting. I have been working with them everyday on the basic principles of good breathing and posture. I tell them the two things they need to focus on are "wind" and "song." I ask them to sing the music so that they understand that their instrument just needs to be an extension of their voice. If they play with great air and have the song in their ear, intonation will happen for them. It just takes focus.