Our guest blogger and volunteer from Italy, Giulia Molteni, reflects on her 3rd day with the YOURS Project:
Having so enjoyed yesterday's strings lesson, I felt it would be interesting to delve deeper into Ivana Dudnik teaching experience with the YOURS Project. So I asked her some questions I want to share with you.
Giulia: Ivana, when did you come to Chicago and how was your first experience with YOURS Project?
Ivana: Well, I arrived in January 2011, invited by Deborah Wanderly dos Santos, one of the founders of the program. At first I had mixed feelings and I was curious to understand how to translate El Sistema-inspired programs in the American culture.
G: Having worked with the El Sistema-inspired program in Brazil, which aspects of this philosophy did you feel were important to bring here?
I: Everywhere you bring an El Sistema-inspired methodology you must be clearly aware that you're goal is to change the life of these kids and let them become better people. You must help them develop a sense of responsibility.
G: Taking part in an orchestral program is enriching. However it's not always easy to join a new group and play together. How do you help the kids through the music?
I: We help them by combining the technical aspects a student needs to improve musically with the social skills a student needs to develop personally - giving them a link between what they do in the class and their real life
G: To be enrolled in an orchestra requires commitment. Throughout your experience, have you observed any significant change in the way kids approach this project?
I: Actually I had a strong experience in Bahia, Brazil. I had a class of "relaxed" students not used to coming to class on time. After six months and a lot of reinforcement I noticed almost 95% of them being present at the scheduled times. The same happened here, when I taught morning classes. At first, the lessons were attended by only five kids. Soon, they developed a sense of responsibility and understood the importance of participating they were present every morning!
Last but not least, have you ever thought that an everyday orange bucket could be used as a tool to drill musical skills? That's what I saw this afternoon when I joined the percussion class!Peter, an engaging percussionist, taught students an introductory lesson, giving a boost to both imitating the rhythms he proposed and inventing new rhythmic combinations. If any overlapping rhythms or funny counterpoint came out, the goal would to do so in time! At first it wasn't easy, but the children and I really enjoyed playing together.
At any time of day, when we get bored or we are in a funk let's cheer ourselves up by listening to the rhythms of our body and just play whatever is handy!