The showcase at Crockett that day was the celebration of the 4 months of work by Ian Fry and his colleague Christina as part of our New Media Arts Semester Long Residency Program. They spent this semester teaching kids freshman aged and up about percussion and ended it with an ensemble performance where parents and teachers as well as other students could attend.
The child of a teacher, Ian told me that he started teaching 25 years ago when he was just 10 years old. He has a performance degree in Jazz and Classical Percussion and a Master of Arts and uses his skills to teach transitioning kids how to connect with music, specifically percussion. Ian is a staple in the VSA Texas family and seeing him interact with his students is something that is truly inspirational. I observed his ability to tune into what they needed individually and that is what a true teacher does. I got to chat with Ian today about his experience at Crockett and I want to share some of that interview with you today for our blog.
|Percussion teacher Ian, dressed in black pants and a black shirt, uses a cowbell for rhythm as he warms up for the showcase with his students playing various types of drums.|
Why is learning about music so important?
“It’s a shared human experience that we all literally resonate with and enjoy to some degree. It’s part of our life no matter what. I think that you don’t have to be objectively good at an instrument to benefit from it. Making those sounds and vibrations is so important to having a shared language.”
The first day vs. the last day:
“We didn’t know anyone, we had only met the teacher, but I remember them being receptive. It was really cool to walk in and have them be so welcoming. The students seemed so excited to be exposed to a drumming class, I don’t know if they ever had it before or not, but they were super excited, eager and focused. When we left that last day we were part of their family. It was great to, in those 4 short months, really connect with them and see them build their skills.”
What kind of things did you teach them?
“The program has an aspect of music literacy as well as learning rhythms and music by copying things. People tend to learn really well by repetition and in that repetition we ingrain those skills that we want to master. Each class, we ended up going over the same routine and that helped with the retention of knowledge. We learned a lot about Brazilian, Cuban and hip hop styles of percussion. It was all carnival rhythm.”
What was one of the most impactful things you saw through the semester?
“There were two guys that stood out to me. One who was extremely non-verbal and the other one just seemed like he was on the spectrum, verbal but sometimes not very active. What was amazing for us to witness was from the beginning one would take his medication during the day and when he got to the class he was very tired; he’d be napping a little bit but when everyone started playing he would snap out of it and start playing energetically. The other one was super non-verbal, barely ever played at all, but by the end he was playing and not only making noise but playing a really cool triplet pattern that sounded really nice.”
At VSA Texas, our mission is to make art accessible to everyone, no matter their abilities and our program at Crockett did not fall short of fulfilling that mission. I am so glad I got to expose my son to everyone that day because a bad morning was made better by just being there and that is a priceless experience. I can’t wait to see how many more minds we reach by continuing to do what we do!