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The Flute Player

By ETM Partner School Teacher

(as told by the music teacher)

Some students act “tough” to cope with growing up in tough environments. But early exposure to the arts can often allow these students to express their emotions, reflect on and cope with their environments in a creative, constructive and healthy manner. For those students whose first exposure to a true arts curriculum begins later in their schooling it can be difficult to shed their tough exteriors to truly engage in the learning process. An activity like singing in class, for instance, is viewed as “uncool” and resisted at great lengths.

By fifth grade, Kevin* had earned a reputation as his school’s “tough, cool guy.” When music class was first offered at Kevin’s school, PS 72, he used it as an opportunity to act out. Kevin had a lot of influence on his peers who followed his lead and misbehaved in music class. This was until Kevin started the current school year, when he became eligible to join the school’s band ensemble.

Kevin was surprisingly quick to sign up for band and to select the flute as his instrument. Kevin has been a natural at the flute and looks forward to music class and band ensemble every week. In band, especially, Kevin is in his element. He is often seen helping his classmates and enjoying the experience of learning and playing music. His music teacher, Morgan Ferris, sees him for both general music and band, and has noted that Kevin’s positive attitude has transferred over into general music class. Kevin is now more focused and well-behaved. After building a positive rapport with Kevin through band, Ms. Ferris has noticed that Kevin no longer disrupts, and is instead a more active participant in both settings.

While playing the flute has come naturally to Kevin, he also works to improve his ability and knowledge. Kevin has used many of his lunch periods to practice on his flute instead of getting into trouble. Not only has the flute kept Kevin from detention, but it has also increased his motivation and overall engagement in school. This has been a nice, noticed change for Kevin’s other academic teachers who have utilized his new-found interest in band to focus his attention in their classes as well. Some teachers have even used extra time at the end of class to allow Kevin to discuss his love of music or to perform for his classmates as a reward for being a productive member of the classroom.

And while Kevin has not made a complete turnaround (as he still shies away from singing), he’s shown great maturity and growth. Kevin has also become interested in using his “cool” guy image to now set a good example for others. Currently, he volunteers with Ms. Ferris to help her teach the Kindergarten classes “I’m a Little Snow Flake” in preparation for the school’s upcoming winter concert.

*The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy.