One of the great joys of music education is its natural fit with project-based learning. Though Ian has now entered the full-time public school world, he is as busy as ever in Music-Land, creating, studying, and performing both in the classroom and outside of it. Our high school has an outstanding music department, so we wanted Ian to be able to get as involved as possible. With a lot of hard work, summer school, and advocacy, we were able to help him swing four music performance classes. Among these are two choirs (one a jazz ensemble called New Gen), which are new experiences for him. He’s grown vocally already, and we’re only a couple of months in. Here’s a selection from a recent New Gen performance. What’s really cool about this one is that the choir director had the kids write their own parts; an act of genius on his part.
Besides the public school classes, Ian still takes private music theory lessons at the local university and private drum lessons from long-time teacher and mentor Brad Stockert. When he can, he performs with Ian Ridenhour and the Sonic Screwdrivers, a rotating band that incorporates as many folks as are available, including the core guitar, bass, and drums, but also cello, violins, and extra vocals. And he’s joined a 5-piece jazz ensemble that gets together to rehearse in the early mornings before school. It’s a challenging schedule, but completely awesome to see him grow with these talented groups of students and teachers.
Over the past month he’s also been working more on his single called “Along the Lines of Fairytales,” which he hopes to release by the end of the year, complete with a snazzy music video. Krista Slaubaugh of rising country-pop star duo Tigirlily agreed to lay down some vocal harmonies, and in return, Ian signed on to back up Krista and her sister Kendra for some upcoming gigs, including the Norsk Hostfest in Minot next weekend. They live about an hour from us, so this new partnership has brought a bit of travel for rehearsals and recording. In addition to the rock work, he’s also been working with another friend for several months creating an album’s worth of techno music that will shake your bum on the dance floor. You can hear some of that work here.
Ian also hit the news last week, leaving school for about an hour to interview for a live local morning news show. It will only be up for a few days, but you can see it here.
Music is often seen as an “extra” in education, and is one of the first things to go when budgets get slashed. Several years back, our district cut the fifth grade band class offering altogether; kids don’t start with their instruments until sixth now. This is a shame, as the research confirming the academic benefits of music study is overwhelming. Music also offers unique opportunities in collaboration and teamwork, creative expression, and the sense of accomplishment when a musician creates something beautiful. It builds confidence, keeps you sharp, and helps you build friendships. For us it has always been part of the “core,” because it helps define us and makes us better people.
How do you feel about music and the arts? And how strongly does your school support it? Are you able to find resources outside of the school system when you need it? As always, if I can help you make educational connections, let me know; I’m happy to help you brainstorm solutions in creating a rich learning environment for your child.