A Day in Fifth Grade: Music Memory Mentoring

By Amanda Bertsch

Before school started, four students piled into a school van, hands full with bright posters and their various instruments. They practiced singing a bright, cheery song about the composer J. S. Bach as the van pulled out of the parking lot. They were headed to a fifth grade class to teach about “Little Fugue in G Minor,” one of Bach’s pieces. This was the fourth trip taken by music students during the Music Memory Mentoring program. 

In Music Memory Mentoring, students were split into four groups and were assigned a fifth grade class at a local school. Each group taught one lesson to five classes. The songs this year were a wide variety, from “Little Fugue” to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The students were eager to learn about both and every other piece in between. 

As soon as the Mentors stepped into the class, the students’ faces lit up. They shifted excitedly as their teacher finished talking, ready to learn about music. The Mentors introduced ourselves and went right to work. 

The groups taught the fifth graders key music vocabulary, concert etiquette, all about the instruments, and how to listen to each piece. For each group, the first class was a little awkward, but they quickly became accustomed to the students. 

Between teaching classes, the Mentors sat in the teachers’ lounge, where they helped with a community service project the school was working on. This consisted of sewing baby blankets for the hospital. Many were apprehensive at first, but they quickly took to it. 

The fifth graders loved the lessons, but they were especially excited to hear each instrument. During the talks, their eyes were frequently drawn toward the exotic cases of all sizes at the Mentors’ feet. 

Each class got to hear a variety of instruments. This included everything from a flute player demonstrating a trill to a trombonist and violist having a glissando contest. The fifth graders eagerly listened to all the music. The classes also saw pictures of the instruments that were not brought. 

Music Memory Mentoring was a lot of work, but worth it. The delight on the faces of the fifth graders made the effort all worthwhile. When they went to the Music Memory concert the next day, they were equally enthralled. As long as there are programs like mentoring, music will always have a future.

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