The Slippery Rock University Music department has partnered with the SGA preschool program after receiving a grant to bring music education to young children.
Assistant professor of music, Cassandra Eisenreich said that this has been in the making for quite some time now. She said that this falls under the umbrella of the music in early childhood community engagement initiative that she has been working with for a while as well. Students from the Butler County Children’s Center are bussed to SRU once a week for hands-on learning through music, according to Eisenreich. The new program with the SGA preschool will allow students in SRU’s music education program to get experience teaching children of the preschool age.
“This gives music students the opportunity to work on a skill set and work with an age group that we don’t spend a lot of time working with on a normal basis, given that music education covers preschool through twelfth grade, which is a very large certification,” Eisenreich said.
According to Eisenreich, students will be working on their own lesson plans to teach their classes. The grant is paying the music students to teach classes, which is something not typically offered at most universities.
“I am allowing my students to take ownership of their classes because I am teaching future teachers how to teach kids, and this is at such an important time in development for their little minds,” she said.
The SRU students helping out with the program are not enrolled in a class or required to participate, but doing it for the experience of working with children, Eisenreich said. She also said that most of the students getting involved observe her teaching the Butler County kids every Friday.
One of the students, Jade Ferneza, a senior Music Education, Early Childhood/Special Education major said, “I have been studying early childhood music since my freshman year, and I love working with younger children for the thrill of seeing the joy they feel when they play and experience music.”
Another senior Music Education major Tiffany Daniels said that she discovered a love for teaching younger children and knew it would be a great experience for herself and for the students.
The SGA preschoolers will be bussed to Swope Music Hall three different times a week in groups of 15-20 kids at a time, Eisenreich said. Every child enrolled in the preschool program will be able to participate on at least one of the days each week, she said.
“Everyone deserves that type of experience, and in my eyes, it should be a requirement for all preschoolers,” Eisenreich said.
She said that the classes will be rich in music through movement, musical play and exploration.
“Children learn through play and the goal is not to turn these kids into music majors, but instead to allow them to experience music and become lifelong lovers of music,” Eisenreich said.
Each of the skills that will be practiced during these classes will also enhance development, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and even life skills such as sharing and how to be kind to one another, according to Eisenreich.
“All of these skills come together harmoniously in the classroom and it is powerful to watch,” Eisenreich said.
Chase Upchurch, a senior Music Education major said, “ I want to have an impact on the lives of these children through providing them with musical experiences that help them to learn, interact with each other, and embody joy.”
Eisenreich said that if you give children this experience early enough, long enough, and consistently enough, the children will learn and grow. She also said that she values the collaboration with her colleagues because, without them, this would not have been possible for the students.
“My colleagues value, just as much as I do, anything that can help our community at large, kids, music education students, and the University,” Eisenreich said.