The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 23, 2001


Music and art nurtured in Carlisle Schools

On Tuesday November 6, the Carlisle School fine arts department presented a comprehensive overview of the new features of the school's art and music program to the Carlisle School Committee.

Tom O'Halloran, director of the department and instrumental teacher for grades 4 through 8, began the presentation by noting that 87 percent of fourth graders are taking instrument instruction, and about 30 percent of all Carlisle students play in the school bands. Earlier, O'Halloran had described a new cooperative arrangement that allows about 40 students to participate in both band and chorus by alternating class periods each week. He also has senior band members act as mentors to the younger band members, helping to ease them into playing instruments and performing for an audience.

Tom O'Halloran, director of the Carlisle School's fine arts department and instrumental teacher for grades 4 through 8, works with his younger flute student.(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

In January 2002, Christopher Azzara from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford will be the artist-in-residence. Azzara's expertise lies in the area of "teaching" improvisation. O'Halloran expects Azzara will work with instrumental and choral ensembles in grades 4 though 8 and general music classes from grades 3 through 6.

Integrating classroom and music

Angela DiPace, general music teacher for grades pre-K through 3, emphasized her work in integrating the classroom curriculum into the music classes. A new project involving the first grades this year consists of setting patterns, provided by the teachers, to music. The students will perform the pattern music for peers in a "sharing" event. In a similar event, second-grade classes performed international songs and dances, including songs from Japan, Africa, Australia, and France, at a United Nations Sharing Day held in the library in October. DiPace is also excited about the poetry unit in third grade, in which students will compose music for their poetry. She said the Carlisle Show choir has 30 members.

Angela DePace, general music teacher for grades pre-kindergarten through third grade, leads a dance at the U.N .Sharing Day. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

Computers in the art room

Courtney Graham-Hadley, art teacher for grades pre-K through 3, presented examples of her students' art, including fish prints, and explained the use of new computers in her classroom. As a reward, when students finish a project, they are allowed to use the Kid Pix software. She explained how classroom teachers are using the "rules of art" in their projects.

Graham-Hadley said, in a separate interview, that her goal is to build self-esteem and confidence through art. She enjoys teaching the younger grades because "they haven't been told that they can't do it." She has a routine for helping the kids determine whether their project is finished. Each student asks three other students, "Do you think I'm done?" This encourages students to evaluate each other's work for completeness, as opposed to asking whether someone likes it. She hopes to encourage parents to begin art awareness at home. "Supply your kids with paper, crayons, pencils, lots of colors, glue, a variety of materials," she said.

Choruses and instrument building

Catherine Pringle, general music teacher for grades 4 through 8, also directs the advance chorus of seventh and eighth graders (with sixth graders included by audition) and the 90-member middle school chorus. She displayed the results of a recent project: instruments that the students created using found materials. She managed to toot on one huge curly horn despite the missing mouthpiece. Pringle will also be directing this year's seventh-grade play.

Mosaics, architectural drawing

David Negrin, art teacher for grades 4 through 8, told the CSC he appreciated having an aide this year for the sixth grade. A new craft project will involve making "glass" mosaics on plexiglas, which allows the light to shine through, similar to a stained glass window. The eighth grade will be using the pottery wheel this year, and Negrin will be teaching architectural modeling, or making sculptural models. He gave a detailed explanation of his approach to teaching drawing and passed around fine examples of his students' art.

Fine arts held in high regard

The final portion of the presentation was a moving slide show, with "Shenandoah" performed by the senior band. The slides depicted the various music and art experiences enjoyed by Carlisle students. The CSC members were clearly moved by the presentation and noted that the students were lucky indeed to have such an excellent fine arts department. "What do you need?" asked superintendent-principal Davida Fox-Melanson, and the music department said they were pressed for space, both for classrooms and rehearsals. The art department would like to offer more classes each week. They said students are eager to come to class and ask repeatedly for more art classes. CSC member Suzanne Whitney Smith was pleased that Carlisle holds the fine arts department in such high regard. Fox-Melanson agreed, saying, "We would never consider cutting the arts." CSC member Cindy Nock agreed, saying, "We are blessed and the children are blessed."

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito