Celebrating music at the Colby School
The career of local musician Rich Wyman has hit a new note.
This school year finds him teaching at the Colby School.
For one of his first lessons Wyman decorated his classroom with streamers, gave the kids party hats and served donut holes. Music is a celebration, he said.
Wyman also read the definition of music from Webster’s Dictionary and then explained it was something that could not be defined.
"Just like I don’t think there is a definition of art, I don’t think there is a definition of music," he said. "I want them to create their own definitions."
Part of helping them do that included an assignment to draw and color their own version of the treble clef or base clef and later in the year he will have students design and construct instruments.
"I like to think that what I’m trying to do is have them think outside the box," he said.
Wyman also hopes students will find music as an outlet to express themselves. He told them throughout their lives there might be things they cannot share with parents or friends, but they can express it through music.
"Part of my job is getting these kids to fully express themselves," he said.
One potential outlet for that is singing.
"The other thing I’m bringing to class is voice," he said. "Your voice is so much more than something that comes out of your mouth."
It is an expression of who you are, Wyman explained.
His students have been sharing their taste in music by bringing in favorite CDs including work by the Black Eyed Peas and Green Day. Wyman noted that much of their taste is focused on the Western world and the 12 tones traditionally used in that style. He said he hopes to add other styles to their repertoire by introducing music from India, China and other places around the world.
"I look at music as a way to open these kids up to diversity," he said.
As students study the globe in history class, Wyman plans to teach music from whatever part of the world they are learning about. Music, he said, is a kind of time capsule. That applies not only to history, but someone’s life as well because they associate music with a specific time in their lives.
Some songs Wyman said he hopes students will hear years from now and connect them with fond memories in his class. It may even be music they wrote.
Students help Wyman write lyrics for his songs, and are active in helping him prepare for an upcoming show at the Rose Wagner Theatre. He said this experience helps them to understand an evening performance takes months of work.
Yet another project he will work on with students is music analysis. This is listening to a piece and picking out sounds. Recently they picked a strange noise out of a song that a student had brought to class. After several guesses about what it was, Wyman and the children learned it was someone playing a saw.
As students grow and gain a better understanding of music, Wyman who just wrapped up his third week of teaching, said it has been very rewarding and he hopes to continue to encourage them to broaden their horizons.
"I look at all these kids as incredible potential and I just want to open their minds," he said.
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