Community children, ASU students flourish in School of Music's String Project classes


February 11, 2013

During a recent rehearsal for the String Project in the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Donna Janowski asks the 18 children sitting in front of her holding their violins and cellos whether they begin the next measure of the music they are playing up bow or down bow. “Up,” they chorus.

Their enthusiasm and Janowski's ease instructing a room full of elementary school-aged children on a Saturday morning on properly playing the violin underscores the vision of The National String Project programs. Founded 13 years ago at a handful of universities, the String Project was created to address the nationwide shortage of string teachers in public schools and to increase the number of children who play instruments such as the violin, viola, double bass and cello. Donna Janowski is in her fourth year of teaching in the popular ASU String Project program for Phoenix area children. Helping her is master teacher (right) Holly Schrade, who teaches music in the Peoria Unified School District. Photo by Tim Trumble Photography Download Full Image

This is Janowski’s fourth year teaching in the ASU String Project, the only project site in Arizona and one of the National String Project’s largest with 200 children between fourth and eighth grades enrolled.

An undergraduate music education major, Janowski began playing the violin in third grade as part of her suburban Chicago school’s string program. She has known since high school that she wanted to be a public school music teacher. But she was surprised when she arrived on campus her freshman year to discover that she could jump-start her actual teaching experience through the ASU String Project.

Some 60 classes later, Janowski says she is more than ready to begin her student teaching experience next year and, more importantly, handle her first teaching position after she graduates in May 2014. Although she had stepped in and led her high school orchestra through rehearsals, taught in a two-week summer music camp and given private lessons, she had never faced a classroom of children with varying degrees of playing ability, backgrounds and interests.

“I’ve learned how to do lesson plans and what works with kids and what doesn’t,” Janowski says. “Having this experience definitely gives me a leg up when it comes to applying for jobs.”

Janowski is one of 23 students teaching in the ASU String Project that includes modestly priced Saturday classes and private lessons. Although the students are paid a modest stipend, the real value for the future educators is the time some of them clock actually teaching a classroom of children.

Margaret Schmidt, associate professor of music education, started the ASU String Project in 2002. She knew the program would provide music education students with real-world experience before they were required to student teach. Schmidt also knew that the program would give Phoenix area families affordable lessons for their children to either supplement the instruction they were receiving in their public school music programs or, for some, be lessons they might otherwise not have. The 10-class sessions offered in the fall and spring cost $35. Private lessons (ten 30-minute sessions) also are available through the program for all ages at $75 a semester, less than half of what private lessons usually cost. Scholarships are available for classes or lessons to families who demonstrate need. “Money is never a reason a child can’t participate,” Schmidt says.

In addition to students who teach the Saturday morning beginning, fiddling and advanced classes, Schmidt also hires two master string teachers from area public schools who work with her in guiding the novice teachers. The three meet with the student teachers an hour before ASU String Project classes begin on Saturday to review lesson plans, give feedback and guidance.

“Teaching a class of 18 children is different than teaching one child in a private lesson, which is the experience that most of them have had,” Schmidt says. “One of the most important teaching experiences they can have is when they see that something that is simple to them can be very confusing for a child and they have to problem solve and figure out how they can help this child figure it out without losing control of the rest of the class.”

For freshman music education major Ali Smurawa it has been as simple as understanding how critical it is to have her students’ music stapled together in the order in which they will play it for the upcoming concert, and as complex as figuring out how to pace class instruction so that she does not leave some students behind or bore others. Smurawa co-teaches the beginning classes with Janowski. Holly Schrade, a veteran music teacher and string specialist in the Peoria Unified School District, is one of the two master teachers in addition to Linda Levy with the Gilbert Public Schools, who steps in and guides them if they need help. “It’s comforting to know if I’m teaching and I don’t know what to do that they’ll jump in and help me,” Smurawa says.

There are currently 36 String Project programs in colleges and universities across the country, according to Robert Jesselson, the executive director of the National String Project Consortium. Jesselson credits ASU and Schmidt with nurturing a program that passes on to the next generation the joy of teaching music. For some ASU music majors, it is the kind of hands-on experience that inspires them to go into teaching.

Although ASU School of Music alumnus James Hutchins knew he wanted to teach since he was in high school, it was not until he taught in the ASU String Project that he settled on music, he said. Hutchins graduated in May 2012 and is a first year music teacher in the Washington Elementary School District, a job he says his four-year experience with the ASU String Project helped him land.

For more information about the ASU String Project visit communityschool.asu.edu/music/string or call 480.965.8277. Registration for the String Project spring term is underway with classes beginning Feb. 23 at ASU Gammage on the ASU Tempe campus.




Public Contact: 
Susan Felt
Coordinator Communications and Marketing
susan.felt@asu.edu
480.965.0478

Media Contact:
Susan Felt
Coordinator of Communication and Marketing
480.965.0478
susan.felt@asu.edu

Design team competition yields vibrant new design for Mesa youth museum


February 11, 2013

Interactome, a team of architecture, landscape architecture, visual communication and industrial design students from The Design School in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts won the 2013 Cluster Project competition with a redesign of the exterior of the Arizona Museum for Children that gives the otherwise nondescript former Basha’s grocery store the wow factor museum board members and staff wanted.

“'Wow,' 'spectacular' and 'amazing' are just a few of the words to describe the incredible range of ideas and inspiring creativity displayed by these students,” said Arizona Museum for Youth Executive Director Sunnee O’Rork, executive director of the Arizona Museum for Youth how called i.d.e.a. in keeping with its new image and more focused mission. “As we viewed the videos they submitted, we were overwhelmed, inspired and completely engaged in their thinking. There are so many ideas that we’d love to incorporate into the new museum but the winning team’s work really stood out for us.” Team Interactome won the 2013 Cluster Project competition that challenged student design teams to come up with suggestions to revitalize the Arizona Museum for Youth in downtown Mesa. Photo by Kevin Klassman Download Full Image

Spencer Bates, a junior architectural studies student from Gilbert, Ariz. and a member of the winning team said that the group focused on giving the building’s exterior excitement, interactivity and identity. The design incorporates a large xylophone along the west wall that gives visitors a hands-on activity that immediately sets the tone for what they will discover inside.

The team also included a water wall with moveable letters to “see, touch and listen” and a special children’s entrance tunnel of motion triggered lights. A series of brightly colored curving metal strips designed to suggest brush strokes serve as an exterior signature design element that wraps the outside walls and practically provides shade and directs visitors to the entrance. The team’s plan also includes an LED sign to publicize events and an interactive projection on the lobby wall with touch-sensitive illuminating wall tiles.

Other members of the team include Kevin Klassman, landscape architecture, Libertyville, Ill.; Krizia Alba, visual communication design, Phoenix, Ariz.; Felipe Mancero, architectural studies, Quito, Ecuador and Anna Kawski, industrial design, Phoenix, Ariz.

Bates said a benefit of the competition, developed to foster collaboration among the five design disciplines, was his deepened understanding of the other design areas and how together they enriched the project. “I have friends in other fields now who I can turn to help me in my future projects and it’s also a glimpse of what I might like to create in the future in terms of my own firm with other designers.”

Craig Barton, director of The Design School and one of the five judges hearing the finalists’ presentations, said that each of the 35 projects received a vote in the initial round of voting that narrowed the finalists to seven.

“This is the type of project which helps design students and prospective clients really understand the importance of working across disciplinary boundaries,” Barton said. “Collectively the projects displayed The Design School's ability to engage students in the kinds of cross-disciplinary design inquiry and practice which will define their respective careers."


Read more about the 2013 Junior Cluster Project here. For more information about The Design School, visit design.asu.edu and for more information about the Arizona Museum for Youth visit arizonamuseumforyouth.com. To see the videos each team prepared visit thisVimeo site.



Public Contact: 
Susan Felt
Coordinator of Communication and Marketing
480.965.0478
susan.felt@asu.edu

Media Contact:
Susan Felt
Coordinator of Communications and Marketing
480.965.0478
susan.felt@asu.edu