This video features five of BuildaBridge's current teaching artists working in out-of-school-time classes with students: (in order of appearance) Ms. Julia Crawford, Dr. Vivian Nix-Early, Ms. Amber Aasman, Ms. Stevie Neale and Mr. Jamaine Smith. Dr. Nix-Early & Mr. Smith are co-teaching a music and visual arts semester project that involves students learning to play the djembe drum, make their own percussion instruments from recycled materials in the school, and decorate those instruments using meaningful symbols created in the visual arts sessions focused on representational & symbolic art.
The first segment features Ms. Julia Crawford, who is teaching dance in BuildaBridge's 2012-13 Discovery Program. In this clip, Ms. Crawford is working with children who are a part of an after-school program at BuildaBridge's Northeast Philadelphia partner site. The African American and Latina students are between the ages of 6 and 12. She is midway through lessons of a dance and choreography curriculum aimed at meeting Pennsylvania Arts Standards 9.1.5A -- know and use the principles of choreography and improvisation; 9.1.5B -- create and choreograph; 9.1.5C -- know and use fundamental dance vocabulary; and 9.1.5E -- demonstrate how dance can communicate. Exposing the students to live violin music, she focuses on interpretive movement to music and student choreography. After improvising, the children are performing a dance they have collaboratively choreographed. Each child has created a symbolic movement representing the concept of "interdependence." The children have learned one another's movements, woven them together using "transitions," and are performing them together as a fluid dance. Ms. Crawford performs the dance with the children as she reviews what a "choreographer" does.
The second clip features Dr. Nix-Early and middle school students toward the end of their sessions on "Lessons from the Djembe Drum". She reviews the definition of rhythm and instrument classification knowledge, followed by their drumming polyrhythms of "KuKu", a West-African song traditionally played by women returning from the well. The song involves as many as seven or eight polyrhythms. Here, the students are reviewing the first three parts. The "djembe" curriculum was aimed at meeting Pennsylvania Arts Standards 9.1.8B -- play an instrument; improvise (Djembe); 9.1.8C -- identify & use comprehensive music vocabulary (tone, bass, slap, polyrhythms, idiophone, membranophone, aerophone, chordophone); 9.2.8G - Relate works in the arts to geographic regions (7 countries in West Africa); and 4.2.7D - Environmental Science Standard - Identify materials that can be recycled in the community; Describe methods that could be used to reuse materials for new products (percussion instrument-making). Additional artistic objectives included correct djembe technique, ensemble performance, knowing essential properties for constructing a functioning drum, and relating art to other fields. The student-made instruments are featured in the closing few seconds of the video, as they spontaneously play and chant, proud of their accomplishment, especially Victoria, who is joyous at being able to sustain a rhythm on the cellophane head homemade bucket drum.
The students are 6th, 7th and 8th graders who have been specifically selected by the middle-school counselor for participation in the BuildaBridge after-school class because of their backgrounds -- serious cognitive deficits, or abusive or traumatic home lives.
The third segment is of a music class for 5-7 year olds, and a theater class for 8 year old children, all of whom live in one of the poorest barrios in Bogota, Colombia. BuildaBridge trained 57 local artists interested in learning how to intervene with abused and traumatized children in this community, and 12 of them joined BuildaBridge US artists to catalyze work with children through art-making. Here, BuildaBridge-trained Colombian music teacher Juan uses grouped clear palstic cups to teach basic rhythm notation, while US artist Amber Aasman employs a different method & counts rhythms in the three languages of the children. BuildaBridge Artist Stevie Neale is holding class in the street outside the small community room-turned-art-space, where she is engaging the students in learning the parts of a drama (theme, conflict, antagonist, protagonist, etc.) in preparation for their later performance around student chosen themes.
The video ends with a return to the Stetson Middle School after-school classes with Dr. Nix-Early & Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith is featured working later in the year with the same group of students. He is mid-way through the symbol design project and is teaching art concepts of expressive line and symbolic meaning through color. Some of the students discuss the meaning of their artwork and the symbolic meaning of their color choices. Students created their own symbols using the visual arts elements of color (symbolic) line (expressive), repetition and rhythm. They then used their symbols to adorn their own handmade percussion instrument made from recycled materials (plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, etc.). The visual arts portion of the curriculum was aimed at meeting Pennsylvania Arts & Humanities Standards: 9.1.8A – Know and use the Visual Art elements of Color and Line (Expressive); Know and use the Visual Art principles of Repetition and Rhythm; 9.1.8C – identify & use comprehensive visual art vocabulary: Symbol, Draft, 2-Dimensional; 9.2.8G - Relate works in the arts to geographic regions: Africa; and (relating Art to the Environment) 4.2.7D - Identify materials that can be recycled in the community; Describe methods that could be used to reuse materials for new products–for percussion instrument-making.