Exploring Music with Venetia Valley

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By Mentor Artist William Rossel
At Venetia Valley I worked with students in Erica Wheeler, Emily Derecat, and Chelsea Fitzsimmon’s classrooms. We used music and percussion as learning tools, counting beats, playing echo/call-and-response games, creating patterns using long and short notes, improvising and jamming! We learned about levels of volume (soft, medium, and loud) and speed (slow, medium, and fast) in music, and in Ms. Wheeler’s class we even learned about more complex musical concepts, like polyrhythms (more than one rhythm at the same time), and conducting (using a bouncy ball to cue the musicians in the class). We learned and sang lots of songs (Sunny Side of the Street, What a Wonderful World, All Together Now, Siyahamba, and more) and played different kinds of drums. We had lots of fun!
Here’s a short classroom video of students jamming!
Additionally, the entirety of my time together with the three classrooms at Venetia Valley was documented as part of a study, conducted by Dominican University, to begin to measure and quantify the benefits of music and arts education for student populations with special needs. It was an honor to be a part of the study.
Arts Unite Us is Youth in Arts program tailored for students in school with special needs. Youth in Arts is the only consistent provider of arts for special education programs in Marin.
Thank you to the Buck Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation for supporting this program.

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