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Juneau, Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), Juneau, AK
Lorrie Heagy, program director
In 2010 Lorrie Heagy established an El Sistema-inspired program at Glacier Valley Elementary School, in Juneau, Alaska — a Title I public school where over forty percent of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. In this video, Lorrie, who was chosen as the Alaska State Teacher of the Year in 2011, demonstrates how she incorporates El Sistema-inspired principles into her teaching practice.
As is the case in many Venezuelan núcleos (local El Sistema programs), in Lorrie’s program children learn to play the violin when they are young — in kindergarten — using paper violins first. Collaboration with kindergarten teachers has been critical to the program’s success.
In all her lessons Lorrie tries to engage youngsters using strategies outlined in Eric Jensen’s book Teaching with the Brain in Mind — movement, emotion, relevance, novelty, and pattern or familiarity. Another effective technique she models is motivating youngsters with levels of mastery, a concept they know from video games. Her teaching illustrates the power of ensemble learning and the belief that every child is a musician from the moment he or she chooses to be.
EL SISTEMA PRINCIPLES
The musical activities in this unit address the following Anchor Standards of the National Core Arts Standards: