917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
By YIA Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper
The final piece, inspired by Wassily Kandinsky’s Color Study: Squares With Concentric Circles, will be hung in the classroom to brighten the lives of the students and staff. Oil pastel and watercolor on canvas.
I walked into the special day class classroom I have visited for years, and “L” was having a fit. Yelling, rolling on the floor and spreading general unhappiness. The teachers and I tried numerous interventions, but nothing worked until we decided to pull out one of the “magic scarves.” This simple, oversized scarf works miracles in my classes. Once the scarf was over “L,” she immediately calmed down and even participated in that day’s music lesson.
This is just one of many times this scarf has come in handy. It is hard to say what makes it so engaging. Students of varying abilities find it fascinating. They follow it with their gaze, dance with it and will generally follow any direction as long as they get to interact with it.
There are a few specific ways I use this scarf. First, I use it to encourage eye tracking or to bring focus to an area of the room. It also helps to remind students to change levels in a dance and encourages a specific quality of movement, I also have students hold one end of the scarf while I move the other end. Using this technique, almost every student will match my movements.
Though I am not sure of the reason for my students’ fascination with my scarves, I am grateful for its effectiveness, and I plan to continue to use it in years to come.
If you walk down the halls of Terra Linda High school on a Tuesday morning, you may just hear the sounds of a Tabla, Doumbek, shakers and tamborines playing joyful beats accompanied by the gleeful cheers of students in Rachel Hughes Special Day Class. YIA Mentor Artists William Rossel and Nydia Gonzalez have been working with students for 10 weeks, practicing a variety of basic rhythms and swaying movements which they will present for attending family and friends in a few weeks.
Every student in this class has enjoyed the activities, finding the one that brings them the most joy:
Gihea rocks out to the beat with her upbeat movements, waving her scarves and showing off her moves.
Brian loves to dance with the “friend of the day” (usually a soft stuffy that Nydia brings in to assist with engagement and focus), and his twin brother Neil loves to play percussion instruments on the peripheral of the classroom.
Maria eagerly awaits the moment in which she can sway her hips to the rhythms in a fluid movement while waving the scarves and smiling.
Demelza always insists she is too shy to do her “solo”, but ends up breaking out her special choreography that usually includes some serious hip shaking and the “genie” move, named by a classmate from last year.
Savannah loves to play along to the beat and when she does her solo dance, she smiles and giggles with contagious joy.
Graham, has limited fine motor skills, but always waves his arms in rhythm and shares the biggest smile when it is his turn to shine.
Alessandra absolutely LOVES to help us keep count of the rhythms and her signature dance move is a spin.
Needless to say, we have a blast playing music and dancing with this talented and enthusiastic group of students. Thank you to the teacher Rachel Hughes and all of the para-educators and aides who are so loving, supportive and willing to get down with our groves at Terra Linda High School!!