Music Education and Innovation at Public Schools of the Tarrytowns

W.L. Morse and John Paulding music teacher Jeffrey Mizen, who has a musical theater background and recently joined the district, is challenging students to not only become better musicians, but also better learners. At Morse, Mr. Mizen has been implementing the Music and the Brain Program, a product of the nonprofit Building for the Arts to augment his curriculum.  

The goals of the music lessons are to have students read and analyze musical notation, think more critically, and play music with confidence and joy. The curriculum includes piano instruction for all students which Mr. Mizen leads with great enthusiasm while they utilize the 20 keyboards in the room. Most of the students have their own pianos so they can take piano lessons and practice even when they are at home. But for those who can’t afford to have one yet, they can try to consider a piano rental just like the ones from a Piano rental Singapore.

The students also appreciate the opportunity to move to the music and sometimes even use their body to tap out various notes. Mr. Mizen says that interjecting movement keeps students active and focused. Additionally, he has his students learn songs in different languages in order to offer mini-introductions to new cultures. Recently, Mr. Mizen created his own video to introduce students to a Japanese song and then based a cultural lesson around it, focusing on the different sounds and instruments that were used. 

Regardless of the day’s lesson plan, the most important thing for Jeffrey as a teacher is that all students are involved and feel able to participate, including those with special educational needs. 

“I believe it’s incredibly important to bring music to all of our students,” said Jeffrey. “Some who may learn differently in the classroom come here and participate just like everyone else — and I often see how much they appreciate the music and the movement.”

At the high school level, students are given the opportunity to perform in various bands, orchestras, and choruses. Students also have a wide range of music electives to choose from including Guitar, Ukulele, and Music Production.  Every year, students are invited to participate in All-County and All-State Ensembles. For several years, SHHS has partnered with two local and highly regarded organizations to provide a residency program.

Friends of Music” is a non-profit volunteer organization made up of extremely gifted artists. They support music education by scheduling young professional ensembles to work with students in Westchester public schools. This spring, their all-day residency program will bring even more opportunity to our students who will engage in lessons and performances throughout the day. There are other organizations like Save the Music foundation that help provide resources to music students.

The Hudson Valley Symphonic Wind Ensemble, an adult, community-based ensemble, has been in residence at Sleepy Hollow High School since 2009. This talented group of musicians aims to instill pride in our nation and heritage and nurture the love of music by offering an exceptional musical experience to people of all ages.  Every year, as part of the residency, Sleepy Hollow High School band students are given the opportunity to perform in this professional ensemble. 

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