A group of JSoM students were filmed performing Camille Saint-Saëns “Carnival of the Animals” as part of an education outreach project directed towards elementary schools in rural Indiana. Combined with voice-over recordings by Music Education professor Brent Gault and the work of film-maker Garrett Poortinga of Green Hat Media LLC, the project will be releasing a five-episode educational film series.
The project was inspired by a conversation about the lack of music resources in schools when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in 2020. With everything online, Jacobs faculty members Alain Barker, Phil Ponella, Brenda Brenner, and Brent Gault brainstormed up the Carnival of the Animals Project.
“What could we do that would both benefit our [JSoM] students who at this time were in only small chamber groups, and also that would benefit school teachers who were really struggling with curriculum for their students? What can you do online for your students?” asked Brenner. “We had talked at one point about trying to develop something like a curriculum, using our students as the performers, where we would talk about the music and have a series of videos and lesson plans.”
Gathering together and rehearsing twelve Jacobs music students for a full day of filming, the next step was to record the voice-over performance of Brent Gault, interim chair of the Music Education Department at IU, and author of several books on music teaching practices.
“Brent Gault is a really well respected teacher, trainer, practitioner of working with children. He is a genius working with young children and his expertise is in early childhood,” said Brenner. “There’ll be a PowerPoint, which illustrates some aspect of the music, and then there’ll be little clips of the music. And then at a certain point with each movement, it will be played through. And then the children will be listening for certain aspects…use of instruments, instrument identification, sound identification.”
The group has also put together a set of lesson plans to accompany the video series. With each video lasting fifteen minutes, the accompanying lesson plan would break each segment of the set into a neat 30-minute class period.
The series is set to be released shortly to elementary schools in South-Central rural Indiana, but Brenner says they have big plans for the future of this project and similar endeavors: “Ultimately we want to distribute this through the state of Indiana and offer it nationwide.”