Beginning

IMG_4114
This class started by analyzing the personal empowerment themes and figurative language in pop songs with reading the short story “The Lottery”, but soon informed us that they were not interested in either of these topics. They wanted to talk about forgiveness, they said when we asked them. Based on portfolio essays Miss Lisa directed them to write over the next three class periods (How and why do we forgive? How does it feel when we are holding a grudge? How do we feel when we receive forgiveness?) it became clear that bullying and personal traumas at home were making forgiveness a relevant skill and immediate concept for these these children. Because their instructor wanted us to focus on figurative language, we consistently requested use of simile, metaphor, light versus darkness imagery, hyperbole, personification, etc.. in their essays.

We then began working with the forgiveness scene from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and the non-repentant finale of “Don Giovanni” in order to set the stage for forgiveness as represented in music. The final project will involve non-traditional scoring of these scenes and composition in Garage Band.

Student #1

IMG_3880

IMG_4092

IMG_4096

Student #2

IMG_3881

IMG_4346IMG_4357

Student #3

IMG_3884

IMG_4026

IMG_4122

Middle

IMG_5256After the students had written several essays about forgiveness, Miss Lisa, a former opera singer, introduced them to the forgiveness scene in The Marriage of Figaro and the final scene in Don Giovanni, in which he does not repent. Mozart’s operas all address redemption in some way (Nicholas Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment) and we needed to focus the students on the expression of this concept in classical music. To our surprise, and to that of Dr. Larry Scripp, a researcher from New England Conservatory of Music who happened to be visiting our class the first day of the opera viewing, the kids were totally attentive and curious about the opera. They were not sure whether the Count was sincere in asking for forgiveness or not.

IMG_6177

This particular project will be featured in a research article by Dr. Larry Scripp for :

IMG_4079

 

Student #1

IMG_4113

Some students thought that forgiveness was a bad idea.
IMG_4102

Student #2

IMG_4208

This student, formerly non-attentive in class and often disruptive, wrote an excellent essay. His father has abandoned him. He is not sure if he can forgive him.

IMG_5287

Student #3

 

IMG_4364
Using figurative language to describe anger and forgiveness
IMG_4366

End

We then progressed to using non-traditional scoring, which this class experimented with last year, to represent the two operatic scenes.  They are struggling with this abstract approach to learning, being using to rote preparation or written work in their homeroom.
IMG_5028The students asked if they could continue watching the operas in class! We presented selected scenes from a version of Don Giovanni set in the New York projects, starting with a basic “elements of opera” writing activity. Then we discussed remorse, for instance:  Does Don Giovanni feel remorse for killing the Commendatore? Does Leporello feel guilty for being a “bystander” and accomplice in Don Giovanni’s crimes? Should Don Ottavio feel remorse for swearing to avenge the murder? We then compared the bystander phenomenon to bullying or other situation the students might have witnessed, but in which they might not have intervened. They continue to be fascinated by opera.

IMG_4964

Student #1

IMG_5235

Students plotted the major events in a short opera scene from Figaro on a graph, then attempted to graph musical elements such as dynamics, range, and instrumentation to see how they correlated with the dramatic timeline.

IMG_5315

Roderrick discusses further work on Don Giovanni and the concept of remorse, here:

Student #2

IMG_6204

This student excelled. He has done this activity before with us.
IMG_5057

Here is a video of Joshua explaining his score to Miss Lisa:

 

Student #3

IMG_5232

Many students were frustrated on the first attempt or basically copied the modeling on the board rather than actually problem-solving.

IMG_6195

Samantha and Maria explain why they enjoy watching Don Giovanni, here:

 

Year One
2011-2012
Year Two
2012-2013
Year Three
2013-2014

Browse Portfolios