Born on a reservation in New Mexico and raised in the Last Frontier. Here I am working on my piano technique. This must have been a staged picture, because no 9-yr-old boy wants to practice the piano. Historical note: Orange and blue plaid bell-bottom pants were trendy, along with the Star Trek influenced shirt. Although, I’m not positive lime green works well with orange.
Little known fact: Fairbanks, AK is an oasis for the arts. Being relatively isolated, anything artistic had to be created. As a result, there were always opportunities to become involved in dance, light opera, musicals, theater, and orchestras, to name a few. This photo was taken around 1972 on the stage of the Pickle Barrel (I don’t remember its real name) of A-67, now Pioneer Park.
The back story…
This self portrait was taken at Bear Lake, Seward, Alaska in 2016. At the time I was working for the Seward schools, K8 music. Note: Seward and the Kenai Peninsula are part of a temperate rainforest. Sunny days, like this one, are to be enjoyed. What began as a dream to become a high school band director, became a musical adventure with young children. I’ve spent the last 30+ years making music with children PK-8. Although I didn’t know what to expect when I accepted an elementary music position, I quickly found that I connected with children more than I did with adolescents and my ability for making music with them brought me joy and gladness. While in Houston, I continued my academic training in music education with the help and support of my wife and my building administrators, and, in 1998, received a DMA in Music Education.
As I reflect on my career, thus far, working in an early childhood center (4-yrs to 7-yrs) proved to be a transformative experience. There, at Halpin Early Childhood Center (Houston ISD), I reflected on my current practice, which was the usual amalgamation of Orff and Kodály with the required winter and spring revue/musical and a veritable cast of hundreds, and their parents. Because early childhood has a slightly different agenda, I was allowed to pursue different approaches for children’s music experiences. During those three years, I became an ardent proponent of center-based music education for all children. I took this newfound passion with me to Stephen F. Austin State University, where I began implementing a center-based music education at the Charter School. As a natural laboratory, my college students were able to watch me make music with children and were able to gain valuable hands-on experiences before student teaching.
Another transformative experience occurred in 2006 when I attended a summer workshop led by Dr. Edwin Gordon. Through reading and research, I began to see the genius of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and a genuine need for augmenting and diversifying the music children listen to in the classroom. My experience with Dr. Gordon was the beginning of Listen, Move, Think. After leaving academia in 2016, I accepted a position as a K-8 music specialist, and, oddly enough, discovered that adolescents love to make music. When I step back into the classroom, it will be at the middle school level.
In Seward, Alaska, I was challenged to embrace personalized learning and took it upon myself to figure out how to take a discipline that is dominated by the individual on the podium, and transform it into an experience where students take the lead. I have some ideas that I’m kicking around and will share them when they’ve been thoroughly, or at least partially, kid-tested. That’s all for now. Check back soon.