music education

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Leslie Cannata Nance

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We are thrilled to introduce you to music educator extraordinaire, Leslie Cannata Nance! She is a multi-talented teacher and artist who has a genuine commitment to her students’ growth and development as musicians. Leslie has a deep, profound love for the arts and it’s evident in her work and performances. Check out her interview to learn more about the passion that drives her work as an educator and how arts education has impacted her life.

 

Why is your art important to you?

Seeing students be successful when they have otherwise not gotten the opportunity academically is my greatest achievement. Sharing my passion of music with others of all ages is not a “job,” but a joy. I absolutely love the subject I teach! I practice what I preach! My students know that I love what I do, and they know they have the opportunity to be successful like me because I share with them! I create relationships with every single student with whom I come in contact. 

  

What do you want your art to say?

Music is my life. I live and breathe music and performing – in any capacity. When I graduated from high school, I was faced with the decision of a) performing and making lots of money on Broadway or b) teaching the youth of America the importance of the performing arts. Obviously, I chose the latter. I have not regretted my decision to become a music educator one time! My students, ages 5 to 95, ALL know that I have a vested interested in them and want the best for them. I have worked with diverse school populations - at-risk students, high populations of impoverished families, special education – that require my constant attention to detail and a never-ending classroom based on relationship building.

 

What project are you working on now?

I am currently making the move from elementary music to secondary music - instrumental or vocal. I'm not quite sure what's in store for me in the near future, but I'm confident I will be the best!

 

Who is your favorite artist?

Oh, my goodness! There are too many to name and all for different reasons! To narrow it down to my top picks, though: 1. I absolutely love Bach and his attention to the musical elements in his compositions. 2. I'm a HUGE fan of The Who because of the lyrics and the drive in their sound. 3. Have any of you ever just spent time listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers? I could go on FOR HOURS! 4. We would need to have drinks and brunch for 9 days about The Beatles.

 

How has arts education impacted your life?

How has it not? I live and breathe performance education. These children are our future, and I'm making that happen because of the interest my educators showed in me.

 

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Biography: 

Leslie Cannata Nance has been performing since she was a small child. With dedication and a lot of hard work, Leslie was given full scholarships to several universities to study music education. Leslie truly lives out her dream job every single day teaching children the love of music and performance. Leslie was hired before her college graduation in Pasadena Independent School District at Richey Elementary School as the Music Coordinator and Choral Director. Here, Leslie was awarded First Year Teacher of the Year. After a move to north Houston in 2009, she became the Music Coordinator and Choral Director at McFee Elementary School in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. At McFee, Leslie revolutionized the music department, as she was the third music teacher hired when the school had been opened for only two years. In May of 2018, Leslie accepted a position as music coordinator at Willbern Elementary School in CFISD.  In her first 3 months at this campus, she has implemented grade level performances and a choir, both of which were absent in years previous. Leslie gives every student in her classroom the opportunity to perform, as she feels this is one of the most important aspects of elementary music education. When Leslie is not teaching public school, she spends her time teaching private voice, piano, strings, and drama.

Leslie welcomes your questions and comments and has many resources she wants to share with you for free (including original musicals)! She can be contacted by email at leslie.nance@cfisd.net 

Punk Rock Changed My Life

by Josh Staub 

“Punk rock changed our lives.” Indeed. 

This quote from the Minutemen song History Lesson II, off their seminal double-record, Double Nickel on the Dime, could even be more poignant perhaps if D. Boon said, “punk rock saved our lives.” 

Growing up in Hanover, PA--in an area of the country known as Pennsyltucky for its excessive redneck population, where superstitious conservatism, incest, and drug abuse run rampant--it was clear we were all fucked. In the 70s and 80s, we watches as most of the major industries relocated to foreign countries, where slave labor could be utilized to make rich people richer and the folks of Hanover much poorer. Since then, many of the factories and warehouses around town have been left abandoned or converted into section-eight housing. Then there is the pervasive PA Dutch attitude, which can be summed up as Stoicism exaggerated to the point of stupidity and catatonia intermixed with staunch Christianity, zero-tolerance, narrow worldviews culminating in dangerous belief systems, that is, for anyone outside of the narrow consensus reality. Punk rock, for one, provided folks like myself--who find themselves outside this bogus consensus reality--reassurance that all belief systems, including this particular one that has been so harmful to me personally, are, to some extent, BS. Just make an acronym out of it, like Robert Anton Wilson, belief system = BS. So when the rigid social structure failed to indoctrinate and subjugate us rebellious youth and then attempted to paint us as fuck-ups and insane individuals, punk rock, along with art and literature, became a stop-gap. In fact, the punk ethos was able to deflect their attacks, illustrating how insane these people really were and how their BS was really legitimized madness. 

To me, music began and ended with Kurt Cobain. If you’re a fan of Kurt’s music, inevitably you’ve explored at least some of the indie bands he was constantly promoting--bands like the Raincoats, Meat Puppets, Half Japanese, Daniel Johnston, the Wipers, the Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, and so on. A modest, genuine dude, Kurt was always more comfortable talking about bands he was digging rather than discussing his own music and its unexpected success. He also introduced me to the novelist, William Burroughs, who he recorded an album with and often said that Naked Lunchis his favorite book. From Burroughs, I was introduced to the Beats, particularly Kerouac and his road journeys, Henry Miller, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Knut Hamsun, and Dostoyevsky. As another casualty of the war on drugs, Kurt reframed and deprogrammed the drug propaganda that was shoved down my throat at school regarding psychedelics. Also, Prophet Cobain brought me to esoteric Buddhism and, eventually, the kabbalah and Sufism, making his band name, Nirvana, quite poignant and ironic.  

Punk rock is about transgression. There is immense power in transgression, especially in regard to the deconstruction of harmful, limited BS. As a punk musician in Philly with Thee Peecock Angels, we hope to adopt the deconstruction and transgressional work started by folks like D. Boon and Kurt Cobain to disrupt and dismantle social and philosophical constructs that impede peace and progression. These gentlemen and women, through their music, have empowered and enlightened me. Without these folks, I would’ve given up back in high school. So, to this I say, punk rock saved my life. 


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Biography:

Josh Staub is a punk rock guitarist/vocalist, an author of the Merchant of Unsellable Dreams and Land of Broken Promises trilogies, and a restorative justice facilitator in Philadelphia. His band, Thee Peecock Angels, can be listened to for free on Spotify and bandcamp. They can be reached through their Facebook page as well. TPA has released 8 eps and two full-length albums, Thousands of Dead Hipsters(punk rock homage to MDC) and Gentrify Me, which have all been recorded, engineered, and produced by Terminal City Records in North Philly, located in Josh’s attic apartment. 

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Tyrese Avery

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We are over-the-moon excited to introduce you to Tyrese Avery, a brilliant young artist in New York City.  He is a spectacularly talented singer, actor and dancer.  Tyrese is an 11th grade student at Democracy Prep Endurance High School in Harlem and is actively involved in the performing arts program there.  He has stolen the show countless times, in numerous productions.  In addition, he is an award-winning member of his school's speech and debate team and is a member of a musical group called HIS-TORY.  We are so happy to have had the opportunity to interview him to learn more about his art and why it’s important to him, who his musical inspiration is and how arts education has impacted his life.  One thing we know for sure is that this young man is a bright shining star!  

What is your art medium?

Music has always been my first love. However, I’ve taken up acting and dancing and found that I have a place in all three. I’ve never been a visual artist in terms of drawing or painting, but performing arts is my calling. There’s nothing like it for me! 

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Why is your art important to you?

My art is really the only thing I have to call my own. As a minority, and as a minor, a lot of things can be taken from you without question. Even your will power may be taken. On the contrary, nobody can ever take away your art and what speaks to you. Art is the one thing that is very unique to me and it runs throughout my family’s blood. However, nobody before me has had the opportunity to excel and practice their art. 

What do you want your art to say?

I want my art to engage youth and adult audiences alike. I want to bridge the gap so parents and children better understand and communicate with one another. 

 

What project are you working on now?

Fools In Love (April, May)

Cinderella (June) 

West Side Story (June)

Who is your favorite artist?

I find it hard to narrow it down to one artist, but, growing up Michael Jackson was a huge influence for me. May he rest in peace. 

 

 

How has arts education impacted your life?

 Without arts education via the likes of the talented Jerry Phelps, Sarah Rosenberg, Luis Cardenas, Norberto Troncoso, Lisa Kowalski, Dominic Colon, Kaitlyn Kenney, and Julie Haggerty, I would not be where I am today. Truly these individuals have changed my life and I am eternally grateful for it. 

 

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Biography: 

Tyrese Avery, a Junior in High School, is a scholar who has a yearning for learning when it comes to the arts. He is constantly engaging in extracurricular activities such as Speech and Debate, School musicals, and Open Hydrant Theater Company on weekends. His past projects have included Lion King Jr. (Rafikki), Hairspray Jr. (Link), Aida (Mereb), High School Musical (Zeke Baylor), and In The Heights (Benny). His upcoming endeavors include Fools in Love (Puck), West Side Story (Tony), and Cinderella (Prince). Other projects that are in the works include a workshop of a play in which he plays a Harry Potter like character (HP) who is the imaginary friend of the protagonist. This is a coming of age story of the protagonist who watched her parents go through cheating and separation. He also has his own musical endeavors with his colleague and partner Clayton Fountain (ClayClutch) as part of their musical group, HIS-TORY. Tyrese is also an acceptant of the BADA Conservatory program in Oxford England. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Heidi Burson

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We are so pleased to introduce you to the fantastic Heidi Burson, a Nashville-based singer and songwriter whose powerful, soulful voice will speak directly to your heart.  Heidi has had an impressive career in music. Having released two self-produced, full-length albums and working on her third, she continues to make waves in the industry. Read below to learn more about what drives Heidi’s music, what artist most inspires her and how arts education has impacted her life.  Also, do yourself a favor and watch the videos to hear her stunning voice and spectacular songs and then make plans to catch her live on her current tour!  We promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Why is your art important to you?

My music is the ultimate therapy for my good and bad days. It's a blessing to be able to express myself through music and lyrics that I hope can turn around and help others in the same way.

 

What do you want your art to say? 

Be yourself. Be confident. Choose love. It's okay to have bad days. Treat yourself and love yourself well so you can love others more deeply. Pay attention to the world around you.

 

What project are you working on now?

Touring across the US and abroad at the moment but also working on releasing a new single before the end of 2018 which will lead the way to a new record in 2019. 

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Who is your favorite artist?

My favorite artist first and foremost is Aretha Franklin. She's my go to for musical soul food and inspiration because I believe she means every single thing she sings/writes and I can tell it comes from a place of raw emotion and experience. She's not afraid to tell it like it is and just go for notes most singers would never dream of trying. She's an incredible musician too; singer, pianist, songwriter, composer, arranger. A true talent.

How has arts education impacted your life? 

To the maximum! I'm not even kidding when I say I use things I've learned from my classes and vocal/piano training EVERY DAY being a performer. From an education standpoint I've acquired a well trained ear and appreciation for music I only have as a result of the arts education I was exposed to growing up both at home, in school and at a collegiate level. Teamwork is another one. As an independent artist, 99.9% of the time, the buck stops here but the experience I have from working in choirs, ensembles etc has taught me how to literally "play well with others" and work as a team to deliver a flawless musical product on stage at every show. I also think you learn at an early age in arts education to take pride in your performances and I translate this mindset into every performance whether it's to 500 dressed up people in a fancy theater or 15 folks in a dive bar. 

 

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Biography: 

Heidi Burson’s story as an artist is one of shared human experience. Very early on, she felt the poignancy of the music of performers such as Etta James, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. She was struck by the power and intensity with which they expressed the longing, which we all share, for love and acceptance. These influences, coupled with her own life experiences and a generous dusting of wry humor, have helped to forge a voice and style that is uniquely fascinating. When Heidi sings, people listen. They do so because her delivery is captivating. They do so because she speaks to their own inner feelings. Heidi is a soul singer. "Totally new to us, Burson’s range is something that we will be arriving early to see in person. The deep and somewhat sultry tone that she produces will surely silence most any room that she is performing in. " No Country for New Nashville Magazine "Her on-stage ability to control the room is evident by her captive audience. It’s one thing to be a songwriter and another to be a performer. Heidi Burson is both. Led by Burson's commanding and soulful voice - one with a range that rivals Jill Scott and Adele...The sound is massive; a rich musicality practically oozes off the record." - Kevin Carr with Behind The Set List. To date, Heidi is an award winning artist and songwriter and has released 2 self-produced full length albums, Every Shade of Blue in 2012 and a brand new record, The Story in 2017. Her music is spinning on AcmeRadioLive and Lightning 100 in Nashville and her single, "Give Your Love Away" has been played on BBC Radio. She has recently received song placements on UK playlists for various businesses and is now receiving spins on independent radio stations across the US. She has toured across the US, UK and Europe including a feature at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland to which she'll be returning in 2018 with her own solo show "Soul On Fire." Her touring has seen her perform in various festivals, concert series and notable venues such as the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, the 100 Club in London, BB King's and Ruine Senftenburg Castle in Austria. With relentless drive and some milestone career goals now achieved, Heidi hopes to continue reaching across the world to connect people to each other with the love of good music. As an independent artist with something relevant to say and a better understanding of how to navigate the music industry on her own terms, there is much coming from this one in the years ahead.

 

 

 

 

My Problem with the Hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy

by Jerry Phelps

How does one learn? This is the question that both inspires and plagues teachers. There have been many theories developed to address this dilemma, but teachers know that there isn’t one answer. I remember being in college studying to be a music teacher and having to take some classes in the dreaded “education department.” The music education majors were the outsiders. This was nothing new to us. We spent exorbitant amounts of time in rehearsal and practice rooms and classrooms learning content-specific material. But, all of us reached a point in our studies when we had to make the cross-campus trek to the education building and take a class that addressed education in general.

In one of these classes, the professor was talking to us about the then-recent revisions to Bloom’s Taxonomy in 2001. It was presented as some groundbreaking discovery in education. A few words were changed around, but most of it was the same. The professor was ecstatic to involve us music teacher folks in the conversation because the top section of the pyramid now would read “create.” I was frustrated. My friend, Leslie Cannata Nance and I shared similar concerns about this structure and the blatant hierarchy it communicates. The professor incessantly reminded us that “creating” was the highest form of learning. All I could think of was…

TELL THAT TO AN ELEMENTARY TEACHER WHO JUST WANTS THEIR STUDENTS TO REMEMBER THE LINES AND SPACES OF THE TREBLE CLEF STAFF!

Sure, it is a bit dramatic to make a huge deal of the lines and spaces of the treble clef staff. But, my mind kept swirling with the thought that there is no possible way learning can be hierarchical like this and that I would only be a great teacher if I moved my students beyond the fact recall or “remembering” stage. For music teachers, “remembering” can be an epic accomplishment with our students. How could this possibly mean we haven’t achieved a high level of learning?

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The truth is, I have never found there to be a firmly established hierarchy with learning other than student ownership. I believe that when a student owns the content—that is, they are genuinely curious and ask questions or research to seek more information because of that piqued curiosity. This level of ownership is often rare in classrooms, partly because we are so obsessed with achieving a phantom level within a hierarchical framework. Admittedly, I think the arts and physical education classrooms are places that tend to focus on ownership more than other content areas. For that, I’m proud.

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What would happen if we start viewing this as a wheel? What would happen if we work tirelessly to provide opportunities for students to access the content in a variety of ways? I’ve always understood Bloom’s Taxonomy to be more of a wheel. This is the only way I can make sense of it in practice. I see it as non-hierarchical. I see it as a way to ground teachers in the idea that learning is dynamic and always changing. I see it as a way to acknowledge that some students may never be great at “remembering,” but they may “create” the most beautiful, important pieces of art. This doesn’t inherently make them better at the arts. It simply means they access the content and process it in different ways. 

In a polarized society where most have taken their stance about public education and how schools should and should not function, I suggest that we spend more time, resources, and energy on student ownership. When students sitting in our classrooms realize their voices are important and valid and valued, that’s when the real learning happens. When they achieve a point in their lives where learning becomes worth of their time, we will have succeeded. This learning can happen, at varying points, through any of these elements of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Biography:

With more than a decade of classroom teaching experience and a proven track record of arts education program development nationally, Jerry Phelps is a sought-after arts education professional specializing in curriculum design, program design and development, professional development, teacher coaching, and organizational sustainability. In addition to a variety of classroom and private teaching experiences, Phelps most recently served as the Director of Arts Education and eventually the Director of Co-Curricular Programs for Democracy Prep Public Schools. In these positions, he managed and oversaw the development and growth of dozens of school-based arts education programs, national award-winning speech and debate programs, and physical education and athletic programs across the nation. Among his awards and recognition, Phelps was named a quarter finalist by the RECORDING ACADEMY© and THE GRAMMY FOUNDATION© for the inaugural Music Educator Award. As a seasoned singer and performer, Phelps can be seen on stage frequently throughout New York City in a variety of solo shows and one-off performances. Phelps currently serves as the Principal Consultant for the New York City-based arts education consulting firm, CORE Arts Consulting.