Tiff's Quest: Keep the Music Alive!

One of the things that makes my school so special and unique is it’s continued focus on the arts despite the unfortunate trend to make cuts to arts programs first when budgets are tight.  We have been fortunate enough for many years to have outside funding for art residencies to keep it alive and well in our building, and countless students have been impacted by these residencies. 

Traditionally, 1st and 2nd grade students have experienced a 15 week music residency where they study history through the lens of music and pop culture, and have an incredible culminating concert where they preform iconic songs with a LIVE band that everyone can connect to.  Years later, students still come to me to reflect on the experiences they had in these residencies and share how they will never forget the rockin’ concerts they were able to be a part of.  These are memories that will last them a lifetime!  Anyone who knows me has heard me rave about the concerts my classes have put on and the amazing love and respect they develop for music.  Can you imagine 80+ 1st and 2nd graders singing “Let It Be” with a live band?  Talk about a tearjerker!!!

Unfortunately this year, this outside funding is significantly lower than it has been in years past and we are not able to continue the traditional residencies that so many students have benefited from.  I have been grappling with this since the school year began and haven’t been able to let it go.  Knowing how impactful these residencies have been, I couldn’t fathom my current students missing out on this crucial piece of their experience in my class! 

So I began thinking... what can I do to help keep this tradition alive?  How can I create this experience for them despite not having the usual funding?  I devised a plan and presented it to my principal who gave me the go ahead to keep the tradition alive in a new way.

I am working on writing a curriculum to share with teachers who will teach it themselves in their classrooms, 1 hour a week, for 15 weeks.  This eliminates the funding needed to pay the artists who have taught the class in the past, and fortunately I have learned so much from them that I feel confident I can write strong lessons.  Shout out to Katy Hays and Chellie Brown for teaching me so much about how to write and teach such meaningful lessons on this topic for students!

What will this in house residency entail?  Beginning in the early 1900s, students will learn about each decade, 1 decade a time leading up to today, by learning what was happening in the world at the time, how it affected the music from the time period (and vise versa), and pop culture.  Classes will learn iconic songs from each decade, and then put on the traditional culminating concert in our amazing theater.

So what do I need funding for?  I am writing the curriculum on my own free time and will not be using any funding raised to pay myself for doing this.  My hope is that I’m able to raise enough money to have the band play for our culminating concert, and to be able to invite Katy and Chellie in as much as possible to support teachers and students with the lessons, and especially the concert.  I also hope to buy some props for the skits small groups of students will do to introduce songs during our concert.  In the event that there is extra money left over, it will be donated to the amazing partnership that continues to be committed to doing everything they can to keep the arts alive in my school.  

Please consider donating to help keep this tradition alive for my students, and feel free to share this with anyone who you think would be interested in supporting this cause!  Anything helps!  Thank you so much for your support!
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Organizer

Tiff Vandre-Lothe 
Organizer
Minneapolis, MN
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