The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 25, 2002


Visiting educator enriches Carlisle music programs

Christopher Azzara, associate professor of Music Education at the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music, Theater and Dance, completed a three-day residency at the Carlisle Schools on Friday, January 11. During these three days, Dr. Azzara worked with students from second grade through sixth grade in their general music classes. He also worked as a conductor of the middle school chorus, show choir, senior band and the jazz band. The common thread that infused his instruction at all these levels was the attempt to impart a higher student (and staff) understanding of music through the medium of improvisation. Students were able to achieve this higher level of understanding, or "ownership" of their music through Azzara's solid, harmony-based pedagogy, and were helped in the experience by his engaging personality, laced with humor and humility. As an example, at the senior band's weekly Thursday evening rehearsal, Azzara began with a piece that the students knew (Quintology); discussed its harmonic underpinnings (Mixolydian mode); taught them an American folk song by ear, which had the same harmonic structure (Old Joe Clark); and finally tied it all up by having all 70+ students improvising to When the Saints Go Marching In. Because of teacher and administrative support and cooperation, the jazz band students were able to attend extended rehearsals with Azzara and benefit from someone who not only teaches jazz at the university level, but also plays in a well-known jazz quartet in the New York City area. In addition, music staff members had the chance to discuss K­8 music curriculum issues with Azzara, and how "improvisation" could play a meaningful role in the curriculum. These meetings were thought-provoking and practical, and included discussions centering around objectives, methods, and assessment techniques. Thanks should go to Debbie Dawson and members of the Carlisle School Association's Grants Committee and the members of the Carlisle Schools' Cultural Enrichment Committee for their funding support. Senior Band students also deserve mention for their citrus sale efforts during the past five weeks, since most of these profits went directly toward funding Azzara's visit.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito