As a first time teaching artist for COT, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had mainly worked with teenagers in the community and juvenile facilities prior to COT, so the thought of teaching 30 elementary school students each class threw me for a loop. How would they act? Would they love us? Ignore us? Overwhelm us with their energy?
I was pleasantly surprised when Linden and I had our first day at Chase Elementary. The students were so refreshing in their enthusiasm for music, and the teachers so supportive and involved. I could see these kids wanted to get up and move! They loved playing a fun game called Zookeeper where they physically interacted with each other to form different animals. They were also captivated by the Magic Flute’s “Queen of the Night” aria and had thoughtful insights into what the Queen felt as she sang.
We discovered Mr. Dzja’s class had been hard at work on opera vocabulary during the strike. Each student made and decorated an opera fan with a musical term! Super adorable, and boy, did they know their vocabulary! This extra step by Mr. Dzja is the kind of involvement we feel from all of our Chase partners. The school had even procured a movable keyboard for us so we could practice Solfege and teach our first song, “Se Vuol Ballare”.
I’m really looking forward to continuing our journey into opera with this school. The students have already demonstrated a growth in confidence with their performance skills; we had one girl in Ms. Martinez’s class volunteer to sing a song out of the blue! Her voice was wonderful and her bravery set a clear bar for her peers. I’m excited for more risk-taking and creation from our Chase students!
|Me posing with the student's fans|
How to Play Zookeeper:
Participants are animals in a zoo, and the lead facilitator is the “Zookeeper”. Participants are instructed to mingle about the space, filling up any space they see. The Zookeeper has 5 commands, 4 of which are animals that participants have to create with each other:
1st animal: Octopus. Requires 2 participants to stand back-to-back, link arms and wiggle arms like a 4-armed octopus.
2nd animal: Centipede. Requires 3 participants to stand in a line, each placing their hands on the shoulders in front of them. Participants them move together like a centipede.
3rd animal: Bird. Requires 4 participants , one forms a beak, two form wings behind the beak, and the 4th creates the tail behind the wings.
4th animal: Beehive (concededly not an animal). Requires 5 participants, 4 join hands in a circle around the 5th who is in the middle. The 4 participants on the outside spin in one direction, while the person in the middle rotates in the opposite direction. Everybody buzzes like bees.
Participants who fail to link into an animal, or if there’s a group forming an animal with too many participants, are “out” and become Zookeepers with the facilitator.
5th Commend: Zookeeper. The Zookeeper can shout “Zookeeper” at any time and all participants MUST freeze. They cannot move except to blink or breath. The Zookeeper will then, without touching, try to make the each participant laugh. Whoever laughs becomes a Zookeeper with the facilitator, and will help the make other participants laugh the next time the command is used. Because of this, the “Zookeeper” command is usually used after a few rounds. All of the “out” Zookeepers will help with this command. The last person standing is the next Zookeeper.