Have you ever wondered what happens when you put a concentrated effort into choral music? Well, 12 choirs, over 400 students and over 1000 audience members certainly do… and its called Spirit Sings. Last year was our first division concert and it culminated with the recording of a CD of Sacred Music. This recording was featured in “A Public Education” episode.
This is our second year for Spirit Sings and each year draws more attention to music and the arts overall. I would suggest that the arts provides us with some of our greatest examples of education transformation. Let me explain:
- Teachers of the arts are some of the best in their assessment practices. They get Assessment For Learning! The final test is usually performance based (that’s a good thing) and occurs after multiple feedback sessions. When students hit the wrong note or say the wrong line, the teacher intervenes immediately and provides the necessary feedback to ensure learning. The destination (final concernt, project, play,etc) will always be important but it is the journey of learning to get that point that is critical.
- The arts provides education with the best example of continuous improvement, although I would include athletics in here as well. System improvement follows school improvement which follows individual improvement. What is individual improvement- simply honing our craft. We desire to improve our ability to sing, to draw, to act… to teach!
- The arts reflects the spark for many students and allows them, if nurtured to move from surviving to thriving. That spark is what students say gives them joy, provides them fulfillment. It is a message highly communicated by the late Peter L. Bensen. With that in mind, why do we not advocate more for the inclusion of the arts in every school and throughout the curriculum?
- Finally, the arts speaks to our need to develop and promote creativity in our classrooms. The problems of tomorrow will be difficult to solve by logical and linear thinkers. We need to have creative minds who look outside their own paradigm at not what is but at what could be. The arts is such a natural link to creativity that schools and communities can ill afford not to support.
What I witnessed on Tuesday evening reminded me of one of the reasons why I entered education so many years ago. It wasn’t just about the performance, although the finale gave me goosebumps. No, it was watching students doing something that they were fully engaged in, doing it well and loving every minute of it! It is all about the students who walk into our classes and our schools. “Children are not vessels to be filled but lamps to be lit!- Hebrew Proverb” And through the arts, so many lamps are lit!!!
Congratulations to all the staff and students who made Spirt Sings such a great success.