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See (and hear) what happens when My Voice Music and Right Brain Team Up by Santigie Fofana-Dura

1st grade students at Quatama Elementary learn firsthand how instruments make music through vibrations with Right Brain partner organization My Voice Music. Photo by Juanita Martus.

In the winter of 2012, My Voice Music had the privilege to become a member of The Right Brain Initiative’s teaching artist roster. Right Brain was launched in 2008 to promote whole-brain learning within Portland metro area schools. In order to get on this roster we had to tryout by teaching a single music lesson to a randomly selected fourth grade class at an elementary school in the metro area. In the end our lesson was a great success and MVM became official members of Right Brain’s teaching artists roster.

Flash forward to the 2013-2014 school year. For MVM’s first assignment we were selected for a residency in what The Right Brain Initiative has termed an “immersion” school. Immersion residencies occur at schools that have been a part of the Right Brain system for several years and they are schools that are fully committed to providing opportunities for creative learning to all of their students.

 “What I love is how My Voice Music has been able to engage students while deepening the learning, not just in music, but in science and math standards as well. Each project has been so connected. The collaboration of artists and teachers has been fabulous.”
~ Janis Hill, Principal, Quatama Elementary

We were placed at Quatama Elementary School in the Hillsboro School District. This is a unique school whose mission is to promote the current STEAM movement in education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math). A huge part of doing an immersion school residency is that MVM gets to work with every grade level and basically every student and classroom teacher in the school. For each class we provide a four lesson unit in which we work with the teachers to connect music with the curriculum.

We were also designated a featured classroom whose work we will highlight at Right Brain’s end of the year colloquium. Our feature classroom was a 1st grade class and our goal was to use music to teach them about the science of sound waves. Other classes we have worked with this school year include kindergarten, where we worked on beat-boxing the alphabet and created a “golden era hiphop” ABC song, 4th grade where we studied vibrations & sound waves and made instruments, 5th grade where the students played instruments to create their own song then wrote & recorded lyrics about how the brain works. Before the year is up, we still have 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade to go!

“Being creative is about doing, making, sharing, working hard and having fun while doing it. The more joy that is involved in the process, the more memorable and life enhancing the creative output.”
~ Santigie Fofana-Dura, MVM Program Manager/Lead Teacher

The experience so far is amazing and each class has had its own unique way of creating their art. The Kinders loved the art of beat-boxing and their teacher informed me how many of her students have continued to beat-box and sing and some students demonstrated massive improvement with their phonetic abilities. The 5h graders wrote amazing lyrics about the neuroscience behind maintaining a healthy brain in which they sang with passion and the 4th graders designed musical sound emitting devices that could potentially revolutionize the way we see and hear sound waves in the future.

To hear a sample of  “The Brain” song by Mr. Phipps’ 5th grade class and the kindergarten’s version of the “Golden Era” ABC’s, check out My Voice Music’s original blog post here.

To see a full set of images from the 1st grade class at Quatama, click here.

Santigie Fofana-Dura is the Program Manager and Lead Teacher for My Voice Music. Read more about him on the MVM site.


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