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Music of the World

Bonners Ferry High School

This report represents the final year of a three-year pilot project designed by the Band Department to engross our young musicians and provide diverse opportunities above and beyond that afforded by the School District’s annual budget allocation. Students were able to learn from and play with Coeur d’ Alene Youth Marimba Band, which specializes in teaching the Zimbabwean music and culture through their performances. The community was invited to attend the Coeur d’ Alene Youth Marimba’s concert as well. Our Jazz Band students attended the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho to witness and interpret the impact of musical performance on the listening community. Students further utilized the SmartMusic program to enhance their critical listening, analysis, and interpretive skills within the classroom. The goal was to bring this pilot about as a sustainable strategy to further the mission of the school district.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do individuals choose music to experience? How do we judge the quality of musical works and performances?

The Artistic Process identified was: Responding: Select; Analyze; Interpret; and Evaluate. The Essential Question was: How do individuals choose music to experience? How do we judge the quality of musical work(s) and performance(s)? The two core standards of focus for this project are: Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work; and Anchor Standard #9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

The chosen discipline specific knowledge and skill standards that students should know and be able to do in the arts as an outcome of our planned activities are:

MU:Re7.1.E.8a. Explain reasons for selecting music citing characteristics found in the music and connection to interest, purpose, and context. (middle school students)
MU:Re7.1.E.1a. Apply criteria to select music for specified purposes, supporting choices by citing characteristics found in the music and connections to interest, purpose, and context. (high school students)
MU:Re9.1.E.8a. Explain the influence of experiences, analysis, and context on interest in and evaluation of music. (middle school students)
MU:Re9.1.E.1a. Evaluate works and performances based on personally or collaboratively developed criteria including analysis of the structure and content. (high school students)

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

“I enjoyed being able to learn new jazz techniques in percussion and experiencing how to write jazz music. During the concert, I felt really inspired by the performances. Especially, the ones that other schools performed. It motivated me to work harder at becoming a better musician.” Anthony Bennett

“One of my favorite parts was being able to go the workshop and learning from Dr. Garrison about flute choirs. It was great to play and learn a bass flute and alto flute.” Stephanie Koehn

“I learned how to analyze a musical composition and write a drum set part that complements the piece. We spent time reading a piece and talking about how one might use the bass and snare to match what is being played. We also learned about several jazz terms and correct rudimentary (Pun Very Intended) procedure when playing different styles.” Ryne Rae

“In the clinic I attended, we discussed sound quality and air for brass instruments. I learned that in order to get notes out sounding good and smooth, I have to stay above my lungs’ “equilibrium” and smoothly inhale and exhale.” Austin Kemmis


The band students from Bonners Ferry attended the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival for the fiftieth anniversary. They saw bassist Jason Marsalis, vocalist/bassist Esperanza Spalding, vocalist Julia Keefe and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Big Band featuring Claudio Roditi. Students attended clinics, workshops, and performances throughout the day, the impact was significant and educationally inspiring. As one student said, “my super favorite part of the trip though was getting to see the concert and listen to Esperanza Spalding, she is a great musician and singer and I am really happy I got to see her perform.”

The other performance students from Bonners Ferry couldn’t stop talking about was the Coeur d’Alene Youth Marimbas. They visited for an entire day that included an afternoon performance for any student who wanted to attend, a workshop, with band student participation, a question and answer session, and an evening performance with one piece that included Bonners Ferry band students. “The music was so fun,” one student remarked and another said, “When can we buy these instruments?” At one point during the afternoon performance the band had about 50 middle school kids dancing to their music and it takes a lot for middle school students to dance in front of other people.


The SmartMusic program wasn’t as useful as originally hoped. Students had difficulty embracing the technology because it was not flexible. One mistake completely tanked a performance, particularly with the middle school age students. Also, it wasn’t functional as a grading program unless students created accounts, which added additional costs per student. Furthermore, students needed internet access at home to use the program, as it’s web-based, and many students don’t have access to internet. Due to monetary and technology issues, the positive elements of the program, including grading options and at-home practice for student’s self-assessment, weren’t available.

One valuable aspect was the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. It was an amazing experience for students and we’ll continue to attend because of the educational value. Not only were students able to see and learn from top jazz performers and professors, they also experienced the two most common jazz ensembles: a full jazz band with traditional instrumentation and jazz combos. All music performed was from the American jazz tradition executed in a form that was both stylistically and historically correct. The students were captivated by the clarity, blend and sound of the musicians, a testament to the headliners professionalism and talent.

The second effective part was the Coeur d’Alene Youth Marimba concert. It was a unique chance for students to attempt hands-on music from Zimbabwe, a style not typically seen in Bonners Ferry. The experience worked well for several reasons: students chose whether to attend the concert; the music was introduced, described and performed by students from Coeur d’Alene, making it relatable, exciting, and accessible for our students and finally, the music is learned by rote, so students learned quickly and participated in the performance. These three components produced a cultural impression on students and produced a diverse musical curiosity that’ll last a lifetime.