Musings on Music issues
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BBC News - Ten Pieces of classical music to inspire children

Primary school children around the country are being taken to their local cinema to view a new BBC film about classical music.The aim of the "Ten Pieces" pro...
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Great idea - just wish I was in the UK to make the most of this one.

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Oldham primary school children play with the Hallé 2010

Come and Play with the Hallé, a Wider Opportunities workshop and performance, was an exciting collaboration between Oldham Council Music Service and the Hall...
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More of this - contact your local orchestras and let's get collaborating as musicians 

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Reaching for Excellence: Gifted Students


Reaching for Excellence: Gifted Students

by Douglas Eby

 "The natural trajectory of giftedness in childhood is not a six-figure salary, perfect happiness, and a guaranteed place in Who's Who. It is the deepening of the personality, the strengthening of one's value system, the creation of greater and greater challenges for oneself, and the development of broader avenues for expressing compassion...becoming a better person and helping make this a better world." [Dr. Linda Silverman, director of the Gifted Child Development Center]

Mary Rocamora, director of The Rocamora School [Los Angeles], which offers adult classes in awareness training and creativity enhancement, finds there are a number of aspects of giftedness that affect both young people and the gifted and talented adults in her classes.

She points out, "The challenges that the gifted must face in order to achieve their advanced potential and maintain their health are many." Issues she has encountered with gifted clients include an "internalized teacher that demands forced learning" and creative blocks which can manifest in a number of forms, such as misapplied perfectionism and overprotection of creative visions while working in collaborative endeavors such as publishing and filmmaking.

In a 1993 report the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement expressed concern that the nation is squandering one of its most precious resources -- the talents of its most outstanding students. It noted that many students are under-challenged and underachieve, and will continue to do so unless their needs are addressed.

Although it doesn't have a formal program for gifted students, Beverly Hills High is an example of a school which maintains a wide range of classes for exceptional students to be challenged to grow and make use of their talents. Vivian Saatjian-Green, the primary counselor at Beverly, notes "There's a lot of counseling prior to a student going into these programs to prevent them from feeling that once they get in they're a failure, or that they have really disappointed themselves and the community."

She also feels that more could be done: "Deep in my heart, I think additional counseling services should be provided for honors students, but I also feel that about the students at the other end of the bell curve, the kids getting Ds and Fs. We spend a fair amount of time dealing with mental health issues, which of course has a ripple effect into the academic area. I think it's scary for kids in AP and honors because they're in that path of constantly achieving."

In her 1980 book "Giftedness, Conflict, and Underachievement" Joanne Rand Whitmore noted that many young students considered underachievers psychologically withdraw from the classrooms and teachers they considered non-responsive and ineffectual.

Mary Rocamora pointed out in an article in Advanced Development Journal (January, 1992) that "Our culture seems to transmit mixed messages to the gifted among us...Our society offers less and less educational opportunity where individuals could find mirroring for latent talents...They are often left with the rage and pain of being, in effect, punished for being gifted."

While there are a number of magnet schools, honors and AP (advanced placement) programs that seem to be helping gifted students, there are also many examples of failure to nourish vitally needed talents.

Manuel Márquez, born and raised in Boyle Heights (East L.A.), is now age 22 and helps publish a magazine on rock music. As he describes it, during his last two years of high school he "faded away" - missing three and four weeks at a time: "In what was to be my last semester in high school, an attendance officer would come to visit me and try to encourage me to go to school, but I always gave him a reason why I didn't want to go back. Eventually I just didn't show up, and didn't graduate. I didn't label myself an underachiever, but you come to a point where you say, 'What's wrong with me?'"

Manuel notes that one of the main issues has been lack of needed guidance: "When I was first tested as gifted at age six they brought in my mom and said, oh your kid has the potential of going to university. They say they're going to give you your mentor, they're going to counsel you - but in reality they just throw you back into the mainstream system, and really don't do enough.

"And then I wonder why I underachieve. I wasn't competing with anyone. I was above average, but I was never challenged, given sufficient stimulation - I just became like the other kids."

Manuel feels "underachiever" is a vague label: "From all the material I've read about it, it's so ambiguous: there are symptoms of an underachievement syndrome, but it can mean many things. It's good to define it, and to see that it isn't something else like laziness or depression or a lack of motivation. It is more complicated than that, and each case deserves proper assessment and treatment.

"What would have made a difference is somebody caring. I think in my case, it would have been easier then to reverse my underachievement. It wasn't like I was doing drugs or in a gang; I just needed someone to care, to mentor me. My family tried to get help for me.

"One of the things I'm angry about is that I was involved in all these programs that said they wanted to help disadvantaged kids go to college. There was all this talk about helping each other, but I think it was just rhetoric in the end. They did give me a vision that I could go to college, but then never really helped me get there."

Manuel has seen other kids that score great on tests, then fail their classes: "There's a lot of responsibility: you can't just identify them as gifted and then not give them the tools and information. The psychologist who tested me didn't give my parents literature or enough guidance. My parents aren't educated: they didn't know what to do. The school pays all this money to have psychologists, and testing to find gifted children, but then doesn't follow up."

Manuel is now gaining more perspective on his past, and finding some information and other help to move ahead. He recognizes a "pattern of destructive idleness" from his childhood: "I wasn't stimulated enough intellectually as a child so I would become idle after doing my homework when I didn't want to go outside to play with the neighborhood kids, or play video games. It was difficult to find something constructive to do as an adolescent also.

"I was praised in elementary school, but never pushed to try my hardest; my internal locus of control was good, so I didn't falter during those easier years of schooling. I always pushed myself; I had good self esteem; I knew I was smart and didn't let anything get in my way of succeeding in that non-competitive and unchallenging arena. I was the big fish in the small pond.

"But when I got to junior high I was the small fish in the big pond. This has been one of the most challenging things for me to overcome because when I faded away from the high school scene my goal was to pursue higher education, to become a filmmaker, and when that didn't happen, I didn't know what to do with my life. I still don't. I had no goal, no strong educational foundation to face life with, and now not even a religion.

"It was all gone, it was all a myth. In the beginning I had a lot of cynicism about the inferior education that I had received. I had blamed 'the system.' But I realized that as an adult I have to take full responsibility for what happens to me in the future."

As adults, those who are gifted may still face a number of the same issues from childhood and adolescence that can erode and compromise talent, impacting creative expression.




Judy Galbraith  The Gifted Kids Survival Guide : A Teen Handbook

Barbara A. Kerr  Smart Girls : A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness

Sylvia B. Rimm How Jane Won : 55 Successful Women Share How They Grew from Ordinary Girls to Extraordinary Women

Jacquelyn Saunders, et al  Bringing Out the Best : A Resource Guide for Parents of Young Gifted Children

Linda Kreger Silverman  Counseling the Gifted and Talented

Sally L. Smith  The Power of the Arts : Creative Strategies for Teaching Exceptional Learners

Carol Ann Strip  Helping Gifted Children Soar : A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers

James T. Webb  Guiding the Gifted Child : A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers

Susan Winebrenner Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented

Ellen Winner  Gifted Children : Myths and Realities

Via Lynnette Van Dyke
Dr. Cristy Pelham's comment, October 16, 2016 3:58 PM
We have a STEM focus, for the most part, this year. We are revamping the program and the goal right now is to increase the student population involved.....more searching, testing, and servicing.
Amy Fulton's comment, October 17, 2016 11:53 AM
I see. Do you limit the students who participate to those who score high in certain sub areas? Or can any student choose to participate? Do you feel like the STEM focus turns some students off?
Laurie J. Croft's comment, October 19, 2016 3:48 PM
One caveat to services: you can only do what you can do! Every school needs to determine a vision/mission for GIFTED ed, as well as for the district as a whole. I would love to have you take the Program Models in Gifted Education class next semester. We explore JUST what you're talking about--you just have to remember that no smaller school can do it all. So you determine what you CAN do and you do it well. Then you find those extracurricular options for kids whose gifts are not really included.
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Home Made Musical Instruments - Child's Play Music & A video showing some of the over 60 home made musical instruments that I use w...
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Useful ideas here

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The value of music lessons - why we need music education

The value of music lessons - why we need music education | Musings on Music issues |
Music education, particularly for young children in state primary school, and beyond, has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks, not least because of a new initiative and accompanying TV ...

Via Carrie Wible
Wendy Share's insight:

Workshops, free lessons, free concert ticket allocations, buskers coming to play in schools - all exposure to all types of Music is perfect for children as they grow and develop.

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iPads in Primary Education: Apps for Creativity in Primary Education

iPads in Primary Education: Apps for Creativity in Primary Education | Musings on Music issues |

This blog is going to look at a selection of apps, which can be use creatively in primary schools. These apps can be used for any subject in the school curriculum, it just need imagination and creativity. The apps include drawing, editing photos, creating movies, photo stories, animation, graphic novel and ebooks, composing music and other useful creative apps. Many of these apps have the option to publish work to larger audiences online, increasing the incentive for the children to produce quality pieces of work. Many of these apps can be used with other apps (App Smashing/Workflow) to improve children's work.

Via shm
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