March is the month for music and arts in our schools. Both the National Association for Music Education and the Council for Art Education claim March as the month to celebrate Music in the Schools and Youth Art Month, respectively.
Boyce Elementary School teachers Jessica Tavenner and Katie Brown collaborated in planning a school wide celebration of the arts and music. The two usually find themselves walking together before and after school. During one of these walks they began to talk about ways to promote and showcase arts and music.
Ms. Tavenner found a book with African American folktales. The book had both plays and songs. The two chose to perform the play The Fierce Creature which had been adapted by Renee Boyd Alexander.
As their discussions progressed, Ms. Brown offered to have the fourth graders (who performed the play) make animal masks in art class. Moreover, Ms. Brown, an artist in her own right, offered a zebra and a giraffe that she had, as additional props.
When the two included the students in their brainstorming, even more elements of the props came to life. They decided a house was needed. So with poster board, cardboard, raffia, beads and twine the props for the African folk-tale took shape.
As the fourth grade art room burgeoned with animal masks and trees and a bungalow, the music room filled with the songs and story of The Fierce Creature. Many instruments were included. The children played the xylophone, gong, a glockenspiel, tambourines and drums. They sang songs and used their voices as rhythm instruments as well.
On Monday, March 14, the whole thing came together as part of a school wide assembly at Boyce Elementary School. The jungle animals came to life for the first part of the celebration. Every school child giggled at the mighty jungle animals who were frightened by the little lady bug who had only wanted a nap.
Following the 4th grade play, the Boyce Elementary School chorus took the stage. The group is mostly comprised of 4th and 5th grade students though some 3rd grade students also participate.
The group performed “Haitori” which is a traditional Japanese folk song. Pausing a moment to grab their top hats, they finished their portion of the show with a rendition of George Cohan’s “Give My Regards to Broadway.” The group performed the tune with enthusiasm and a bit of choreography.
To end the celebration, Dr. Ryan Keebaugh and the Clarke County High School Chamber Choir shared some of their songs.
Warren Campbell, CCHS senior, opened for the group, leading them in singing Billy Joel’s, “For the Longest Time.” They sang several tunes and when Dr. Keebaugh asked, “Do you want us to sing another?”
The entire throng of young children shouted a resounding, “Yes!”
Both the National Association for Music Education and the Council for Art Education should rest assured. Art and music are alive and well in Clarke County, Virginia.