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MSU’s College of Music partners with Detroit, Lansing communities

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Michigan State University’s College of Music is reaching out to the state of Michigan with two projects to engage and better the community. Student musical groups will be performing concerts at the Cristo Rey Community Center in Lansing and faculty and students will be hosting a series of workshops at Cornerstone Schools in Detroit.

Cristo Rey Community Center provides many services to those in need in the Lansing area, including an array of youth activities to promote education and character development. MSU student musical groups will be performing two concerts for children, youth and seniors, marking the beginning of a partnership between the college and the community center. The first scheduled performance is at 5 p.m. March 18 with the Viridian Saxophone Quartet and a jazz quartet will perform at 5 p.m. March 25.

“We’re excited about forming this partnership with Cristo Rey, an agency that is vital to so many living in the Lansing community,” said Rhonda Buckley, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the college. “Educational activities for children and youth are an important part of the mission of Cristo Rey. The College of Music feels it can assist with this mission while giving our music students a deeper connection with the community.”

Professors and students from the College of Music will also hold workshops at Cornerstone Schools in Detroit, which will include entertainment and instruction to give the students a well-rounded musical learning experience.

Derek Polischuk, assistant professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy, kicked off the project on March 4 with a performance by two MSU piano students followed by a master class where MSU students worked with Cornerstone student ensembles to help them prepare for their upcoming recital.

“I hope that the MSU students and I were able to drum up excitement about musical study. I hope we brought the next level of refinement to their playing,” said Polischuk.

Cindy Taggart, professor and area chair of music education, will teach a workshop on March 20 that will center on how to support young children’s musical growth and development through developmentally appropriate music and “movement activities.”

Movement activities are activities that do not require correctness but allow exploration and provide children with a rich “listening vocabulary.” In the workshop, children are allowed to move in expressive ways and watch the movements of others.

“Working with this age is rewarding to see musical growth because it is visible and happens quickly,” Taggart said.

Taggart will also spend time working with early childhood education teachers and music teachers so they can continue to implement music education into the classroom. Working with both teachers and children allows the learning process to continue even after the workshop is over.

“Teachers can talk with me and incorporate valuable things into their own teaching. Over time there could be a lot of changes and a shift in music instruction the children are getting,” Taggart said. “I hope that they are engaged and enjoy what we’re doing. That is not so meaningful in itself, it is only as meaningful as it sustains beyond when we are there.”

Other workshops include a concert with the Spartan Discords directed by Jonathan Reed, associate professor of music and associate director of choral programs on April 4 as well as a string instrument techniques session on April 11 taught by Judy Palac, associate professor of music education.

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