In December we had Dennis Arcano and his wife Melina join us for a Double Teacher Feature to discuss Quaver Musicals during our December Webinar. Dennis has been using Quaver resources for the last three years at Anna H. Rockwell School in Bethel, Connecticut. Today he’s sharing how, after 19 years of teaching, he has rediscovered the excitement of a first year teacher with Quaver in his classroom!
Take it away, Dennis!
Let’s begin with an apology. To all my music students those first few years of my career, I AM SO SORRY! Sure we had some fun, sang some songs, played some music games, and put on some awesome concerts. Years later, many of you have even returned as adults to share fond memories of your time in my music classroom. But, to be honest, I was just getting by. I had a successful career as a professional musician outside of school, and I was really good at executing lessons or breaking things down for students to understand. But something was lacking. Content. Sequence. Retention. Connections.
Then I came to a crossroad.
I’ve been teaching elementary general music at the same school since 1998. A few years back my district gave me an opportunity to create brand new high school courses in AP Music Theory and Digital Music Composition and Production in addition to my elementary general music classes. It was exciting, but eventually the grueling full-time plus teaching schedule took its toll on me. I wasn’t a happy teacher. I quickly found out that an unhappy teacher is an ineffective teacher, so I decided to cut back on the high school classes and focus on elementary.
I still wasn’t sure how I was going to last another 20+ years in this career if I didn’t find something invigorating to take back into my elementary general music classroom. As fate would have it, I had a 30-Day Preview offer from Quaver Music sitting in my inbox for months. I finally decided to give it a try for the last two weeks of school back in 2014.
From the moment I taught the first Preview lesson (3rd Grade “Rounds and Canons”), something new ignited in me. This is what’s been missing! All the worlds of my professional and educational musical careers collided together in that first Quaver Lesson and there was no way I could turn back.
I was immediately struck by the blending of pedagogies, the authentic musical experiences, the use of technology, the units of study, the assessments, the sequence of lessons, the genius of ClassPlay songs and the Lesson Plan Presenter. Along with all the age appropriate opportunities for students to perform/create/respond/connect in music, this was just what I was searching for. Things I had shied away from or completely neglected in the past, my students were now slaying them like rockstars with Quaver Music!
The students had never been more engaged. They were having a blast learning while also retaining more musical concepts, content, and abilities in those few weeks of the Preview than some former students had in four years in my classroom. I was hooked, yet that was only the beginning.
After we signed on as a Quaver Music school, I discovered that my input and insight would be used to update and modify the curriculum as a fluid entity that’s ever changing. Every single member of the Quaver team (and I’ve dealt with many of them directly) has been accessible at all times and helpful in ways I could never imagine. Anything you need, they will find a way to make it happen. That kind of support and commitment is priceless.
So here I am, 19 years into my teaching career, and I’m just getting started! It’s like being a new teacher all over again, but with the real world experience no new teacher can possibly obtain. I am proud and confident of what goes on in my classroom, but it’s not Quaver Music that makes my classroom exceptional. It’s what Quaver Music has brought out in me, and how it aides in musically educating my students to the best of my abilities, with every “go to” resource a music teacher could ever need all right in one place.
Key term posters in Dennis’ classroom
It’s the greatest teacher’s assistant out there, and with the option to go “all in” using the curriculum or to customize and enhance your current music classroom with ClassPlay or Essentials, it’s the ultimate music education resource for new and veteran teachers alike. I’m excited and nervous everyday like I was back in 1998, but for completely different reasons. It’s because everyday is a new adventure for my students and I with Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music!