By Robin Steinweg
How can a visit to a museum turn into a winning student-led group class?
My student, a high school senior, recently visited “the world’s only global music instrument museum,” located in Phoenix, Arizona. She took dozens of photos. Her enthusiasm bubbled over during her lesson.
I love to strike while the iron’s hot! So I asked Sarah if she’d share some of her photos (and excitement) with my other students at a group class.
The Musical Instrument Museum boasts over 6500 instruments on display, from some two hundred different countries or territories. I asked Sarah to choose fifteen or twenty photos, and spend 1-3 minutes telling us about each.
Though I’m sure it was difficult to narrow the field, Sarah chose fascinating subjects. She put them in order on her laptop, and while the rest of the group finished their snacks, Sarah captured their interest completely with her stories of instruments beautiful, rare, ancient, or bizarre.
One showed a metal piano which Steinway & Sons produced during WWII. They were called the “Victory Verticals” or G.I. Models, and some were parachute-dropped to troops fighting in Europe. They included tuning kits and instructions. When I asked my mostly young students why Steinway would do this, they seemed perplexed. One of them thought perhaps it was so they could hold funeral services. This ended up in a discussion about the impact music has on us. To impart courage, bring comfort, lift the spirits, entertain…
Some of the students there have great-grandfathers who served in the military during WWII–so this example touched them.
We ended the class in a state of musical entertainment: with each attendee taking a turn on my ukulele playing “The Hokey Pokey” (quite amusing).
I was so pleased with Sarah’s presentation. She fielded questions like a pro. I am continually impressed with music students’ creativity, maturity, and responsibility. All they need is opportunity.
I hope to find more ways to have a student-led group class!