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Recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week – Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cari KassebaumPhoto of students and staff

MUSIC TEACHER
JACKSON HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

What do you do to engage your students? What makes your classroom unique?

My goal is to always make music fun while learning. We do a lot of covert learning in the music room. My music room hosts the “Note-Able Kingdom” which include the Duple Meter Castle, Triple Meter Castle, and Solfege Duck Pond. It is through these places and their stories that students are experiencing music daily; singing, dancing, playing instruments, composing and sharing their own wonderful student created compositions. The music classroom is a magical place.

Why do you think it's important to teach the way you do?

I often hear adults tell me that they hated music when they were in elementary school or that their music teacher told them not to participate because they had no talent. I never want to be that teacher! I believe ALL students can learn music, and can participate regardless of music aptitude. I want all of my students to be successful and comfortable with their skills. Let’s have fun and make some awesome music!

photo of staff and students

What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?

Music is something that we can all do, regardless of any differences we might have. I truly enjoy giving my students the opportunities to try something new and be successful at it. We all have strengths and weaknesses. It is rewarding when we can collaboratively work together, with those strengths and weaknesses, to make amazing music! I continually encourage my students to try and work through those areas that they find challenging. What a wonderful feeling it is to watch their faces when they find success!

What singular lesson plan, activity, assignment or experiment do you return to year after year because of its "spark" factor with you and/or your students?

Twenty years ago I came up with a story to teach my students about Solfege (Do, Re, Mi) using ducks as my main characters. In 2007 I purchased 8 rubber ducks so that my students could create a connection with these musical sounds. Today, you will often walk by the music room and hear students laughing, quacking and waddling around the room as we experience music. I have over 200 rubber ducks (given to me by students), each with the name of a music term that are a part of our daily classroom activities. The students love working with the ducks, no matter what their grade level.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I graduated from Lake Shore Central High School in Angola, NY (south of Buffalo) before attending Concordia College- New York with 2 Degrees in Music Education and Christian Education. I received my Masters in Curriculum & Instruction from SUNY Plattsburgh. This is my 28th year teaching: one year in a private Christian school downstate, 7 years with WSWHE BOCES, and 20 year in Glens Falls. I sing regularly with the tri-county community chorus, Adirondack Voices, and serve as their President as well. I continue to sing as a local soloist for various organizations, as well as being a private voice teacher. I truly enjoy sharing with others my love for music and I hope that I instill that love and enjoyment in my students!