Introduction to ‘The Percussive Parent’

Hello MIE Blog community! I am doing an internship this semester (along with fellow intern Joanna Mattrey) as a participant and documentation specialist for a class titled “The Percussive Parent”. The class is held at the Gentle Dragon Preschool in Medford, Massachusetts under the direction of Warren Senders, a current MIE instructor at NEC. Twelve adults and their children are enrolled in the course which meets every Wednesday afternoon for ten weeks. The class involves, among many things, counting and number games, handclapping activities, instrument-making, the use of found objects converted into instruments, producing music with drums and percussion, simple movement activities, along with methods and techniques for parents to incorporate what they have learned into the time they spend with their children outside of class. Warren’s goal is that, by the end of the ten week period, “group members will be able to direct multigenerational rhythm groups on their own, using traditional, self-made and spontaneously created instruments.” He explains that the course is not for children and their parents, but rather for parents and their children so that the children can learn (if they want to) from their active parents while the parents learn musical methods for teaching their children.

For my guided internship this semester, I plan on using Warren Senders’ class “The Percussive Parent” as a way of investigating the ways in which children learn from and imitate their parents, the experience and growth of a child in a creative musical environment, and also how to develop and organize a community course directed towards a specific audience in a free-thinking learning environment. Through this, I will be able to document and experience the organization hands-on while also playing a role in the teaching and learning process of building instruments, experiencing and applying rhythmic games and tools, and utilizing mundane or found objects to create a musical learning experience.

This internship will serve as an application of previous work that I have done with Warren Senders. In addition to completing his two MIE courses (Cross Cultural Approaches to MIE and Improvisation in General Music), I completed an internship as a documentation specialist for his Cross Cultural Approaches to MIE course last semester. In this course, and through my internship, we investigated, among many things, different cultural methods of education, specifics and speculation on the nature of memory, instrument building, intrinsic knowledge, music in education, and more. This internship will follow on the heels of the previous as a hands-on application of techniques and topics discussed with Warren Senders throughout his courses.

An interesting hypothesis that Warren shared before the start of the course, was that “our kids will be much more likely to make music together if they see us making music together. We will be modeling music-making behavior for our kids…and, of course, making music ourselves.” It is an exciting and fascinating premise, that by being an active learner as a parent and teacher, our children and students will most frequently follow our example through imitation and/or a desire to be like their adult role model. I will continue to investigate and document such patterns throughout the course of the class, and share insights with you as we go along. Joanna and I will also be collaborating on information and musings in order to give you a wider ranging perspective on the progress made throughout the ten weeks of the course.

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