Posted by SRU Early Childhood and Elementary Music on Monday, March 30, 2020

The Slippery Rock early childhood and elementary music programs introduced Make Music, virtual music classes on Facebook Live, as part of their Community Engagement Initiative.

The Make Music series are part of the initiative, partnering with students from the Butler County Head Start Program and the Butler County Preschool.

Ashley Bartley, a Head Start head teacher at Butler County Children Center, attended classes on Fridays with Cassandra Eisenreich, an assistant professor of music education and flute, and her students.

Bartley said that her group of 20, ages three to five, were excited to go to campus every Friday.

“They loved it, and I will say my teaching staff and myself love it too,” Bartley said. “It is a time that is filled with music, movement, learning, playing and much more.”

Bartley said that Eisenreich emailed her to let her know that the online music classes could be a possibility.

“I was so excited,” Bartley said. “I just know that my students really enjoy them and hopefully other children in our area can now enjoy them.”

Barltey reminded children’s families to watch the Facebook Live stream and said that she knows that music sessions similar to those of Eisenreich’s students are important for all ages.

The sessions run Monday through Friday, starting at 10 a.m., and can be found on the SRU Early Childhood and Elementary Music Facebook page..

Eisenreich said that she wanted to provide an opportunity for the weekly students, as well as others, to tune in.

“Children enjoy interacting with their friends and having these opportunities to sing and play with others,” Eisenreich said.

In the live sessions, the students ask questions to the children watching, incorporating the comments into the song or activity of the day.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are sing and play sessions, which include “hello” and “goodbye” songs with a main activity in between them. Each session follows a theme such as animals, colors or art.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are meet the musician sessions, featuring one a student and an instrument they play. The student will play children’s songs and have the children watch, clap their hands to the beat or engage them otherwise.

At the end of each live session, additional resources are provided in the comment section that relate to the session topic of the day.

“We live in this world of music, we understand the importance of it,” Eisenreich said. “We have seen the power of music and how much joy it brings to children.”

Eisenreich said that the students are stepping up at a difficult time, writing their own songs and learning new ones.

The initiative began March 30th with Rebecca DeGraff, a senior music therapy major. Degraff prepared a song related to animals and the sounds they make for her session.

Degraff said that Facebook Live is nice in the aspect of interacting with the kids.

“One mom said after the session I did on Monday, that she had written in the name of her child, where they lived and how old she was, and I said ‘Oh hello so and so from this town’ and her mom said that her child’s eyes lit up to hear her name,” Degraff said.

Degraff has gotten pictures from parents of kids crowded around the computer screen and singing.

“I think it’s important for [the kids] to still be able to get this, in a little way,” Degraff said. “It’s providing some sort of structure when their days right now are probably unstructured.”

Eisenreich said that the students are consistently providing opportunities to the community.

Ashley Bodnar, a senior music education major and instructional strategies for students with disabilities minor, taught the live session on Tuesday.

Bodnar said that the Make Music sessions are a good experience to have for teaching, because although the students have some familiarity with online teaching, the classes usually aren’t geared towards young children of preschool age.

“I really love working with the younger kids and I’m happy we are still finding a way to still bring music to them,” Bodnar said.

Other students agree with Bodnar, including Alaina Stroud, a senior music therapy and music education dual major. Stroud is student teaching and finishing her music therapy degree.

Stroud taught the live session on Wednesday and said that it is cool to watch the comments on the video pop up, where she can read them at her own pace, as opposed to a classroom setting where students may talk all at once.

“Music is an incredibly important part of a child’s development not only as a musician but as a human,” Stroud said. “We teach how to be a good person, to love music and love the world, and education goals are important for kids to have.”

Stroud said that it’s exciting to see alumni participating and commenting on the videos and interacting with students.

Andy Kolar, an alum with a bachelor’s degree in music, has his kids participate in the Make Music sessions, tuning in from Connecticut.

Kolar said that he wanted his younger kids to have some sort of music class because his older kids now don’t have a music class like they would in preschool or kindergarten.

“They lose their minds when their names are mentioned, so they love that,” Kolar said. “Again, it stimulates them like being called on in school, in a good way.”

Kolar said that he wanted to keep music in his kid’s lives, but that it is also a great learning experience for Slippery Rock students.

“They are experiencing this phenomenon just like every other music teacher having to now do things unconventionally online,” Kolar said.

The Make Music sessions are scheduled for three full weeks, with a set schedule, but according to Bodnar, may continue till the end of the school year.

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Hope is a junior converged journalism major and entering her second year on The Rocket staff and her first year as Campus Life Editor. Previously, she served as Assistant Campus Life Editor and covered campus events, club events, along with concerts and plays. After graduation, she hopes to write for a city newspaper reporting on city journalism or community affairs.

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