School of Music Hosts 'MAT Collaboration Day'

Music Ed grad students get opportunity to observe, teach middle schoolers from Philly suburbs

March 22, 2011

The School of Music recently hosted an "MAT Collaboration Day" that featured University of the Arts graduate students in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Music Education program and 7th – 9th graders from Pennfield Middle School in the North Penn School District located in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

The brainchild of Elizabeth Sokolowski, head of the School of Music's Music Education division who taught for 16 years at Pennfield, in partnership with Dave Orehowsky, director of the Pennfield Middle School Jazz Band, the "MAT Collaboration Day" not only gave the grad students the opportunity to observe an exceptional teacher and educator at work, but also the chance to put into practice the teaching skills they are learning in the MAT program.

Utilizing the rehearsal and musical pedagogy and methodology that Sokolowski teaches at the University of the Arts, Orehowsky demonstrated his teaching strategies and provided valuable feedback.

The middle schoolers were then divided into sections, with MAT students assigned to the various groups according to their instrument background. School of Music Director Marc Dicciani (pictured below with some of the students) was on hand during this time and also worked with the students, bringing the band back together to play some of what they rehearsed.

After lunch, both the Pennfield and MAT students observed Assistant Professor Matt Gallagher's Big Band rehearsal, surprising the Pennfield students with a sight reading of one of their songs. Gallagher then invited the middle school kids and the MAT students to join the Big Band rehearsal, which turned into one of the highlights of the day.

"It gave me the chills when I looked at the photos," commented Pennfield Middle School Principal Barbara Galloway. "This was an incredible experience that you gave the kids."

For Sokolowski, that's what's really important. "Public school educators and administrators outside of the artist classrooms need to see the value and purpose in what we do, what we bring to kids and why the arts are so valuable in public education."

Top: Pennfield Middle School Jazz Band director Dave Orehowsky rehearsing with his students.

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