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Gary is the Head of the Secondary Music Department at the International School of Dakar, Senegal.
I only came to Dakar last year. When I arrived, I had a giant music room with 16 Djembes, 8 damaged nylon string guitars and 8 steel string acoustic guitars. I tried a teaching music based around the drums, but my middle schoolers (age 12-15) just weren’t very interested. With the help of a parent, we repaired some of the instruments, including 2 damaged drum sets and then had the students playing in bands. When I told a friend back in the US what I was doing, he suggested I read Lucy Green’s Hear Listen Play.
I did and that led me to Musical Futures. I read everything I could on the website and wrote a grant to get enough equipment to create, at least, 3 “silent” practice spaces. I got all the equipment on September 22, 2016. Spent 3 solid nights and days wiring and was then ready to try In The Deep End.
Our school year started in early August. I began the semester with a modified version of Just Play. I had already made my own resources for songs like Demons, Photograph, Viva La Vida, etc. We did body drumming instead of
chair drumming. But basically it was the same. The students were excited being able to play from day 1. Their parents were so excited with how engaged they were.
Our school is on a trimester schedule, so I am almost done with my 8th graders (15
years old) and will get the 6th graders (12-13 years old) next. With the 6th graders, I am anxious to use some of the Find Your Voice resources. I got so many ideas from the workshop at the Music Learning Revolution in the UK in 2016.
Musical Futures for me is fun, authentic, engaging, timely, organised
I am currently listening to every pop song that resonates with a middle schooler like Heathens, Cake by The Ocean, Lost Boy, Marry Me, Riptide, etc.
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