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Musically Engaged in Venetia Valley’s Special Day Class

Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper reports on her work with students at Venetia Valley in the Special Day Classroom

In our Special Day Class at Venetia Valley Elementary, students engaged with a variety of instruments, rhythmic patterns and songs from around the world.

One student’s favorite activity was to sing along with the drone of the shruti box (a traditional instrument from Northern India). The uneducated observer might think that the student was simply “making sounds,” yet teachers who have been working with this student for years were amazed to witness how unusually vocal he became in our music sessions. He and I engaged in an improvisational dialogue, singing phrases back and forth, echoing and creating music born of that moment.

Another student’s favorite activity was to accompany a song using the keyboard. The light, easy-to-press keys are an immediate and dynamic way for him to create sound and respond to what he is hearing.

Every individual is unique, and every individual has a unique way of engaging with the world around them. My focus with the music residency is to find each students point of engagement and meet them precisely there.

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