Monday, March 7, 2016

Spring update from Amherst Education Foundation

Spring is a busy time at AEF! Did you know that they have received 14 grant applications and have over $30,000 to allocate? This is all thanks to incredibly generous donors from our community. Read about an ARMS Grantee below …

2015-2016 AEF Grantee Spotlight
Music Education at Amherst Regional Middle School 
AEF grant purchases 21 iPads and music education software to expand music education at ARMS to reach all middle schoolers and support Music Choral/Classroom Music Teacher David Ranen and Instrumental Teacher Ben Peterson. 
Mr. Ranen demonstrating the "Storybook Soundtrack Project" to AEF Co-President Diana Spurgin.
Mr. Ranen demonstrating the "Storybook Soundtrack Project" to AEF Co-President Diana Spurgin.
If in fact “music hath charms”, as Shakespeare wrote long ago, then every student at the ARMS is charmed, indeed, thanks in part to the 2015-16 AEF Excellence Grant awarded to ARMS. The grant purchased 21 iPads and music education software to support two of the three new music courses at ARMS, taught to both 7th and 8th graders by David Ranen and Ben Peterson. 
“The new music classes are attended by students who have chosen not to be in one of the three vocal or instrumental ensembles,” Ranen said. “Now they have a choice: Introduction to Music, Introduction to Songwriting, or Introduction to World Percussion. So now, every student at ARMS is involved in music in some way.” 
Introduction to Music: The topics run from the music of the Civil Rights Movement to playing guitar to studying the structure of a song before performing it “garage-band style.” This spring, Ranen said, students will be selecting a children’s book and will “record themselves reading the book, and ultimately make a soundtrack that will fit the story, using things that they have made or borrowed.” 
Songwriting/Music Theory: Peterson explained, “We’ve been using the iPads primarily to access online notation software. In one project, students wrote a haiku online and then instrumentalized it, giving it percussion, then notating it and learning how to share it, as well as how to access and share things over the internet.” 
Both instructors emphasize that the iPads represent some students’ first real access to the internet other than using school computers, so not only are they learning about music, they are learning how to activate an account, set up a password, and learning “what we think of as basic elements of using the internet.” 
“Having not had iPads before,” states Mr. Ranen, “we’re just exploring the possibilities and scraping the surface of what is going to become a really great program.” 
The Amherst Education Foundation salutes the innovation and creativity that these instructors are generating and is proud to have been a partner in the new curriculum’s inception.

Learn more about AEF here: