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Free Conference Helps Preschool/Early Childhood Educators Incorporate Music Into the Classroom

The Mary Pappert School of Music will host area preschool teachers and early childhood educators at a free, two-day Early Childhood Music Initiative (ECMI) Professional Development Conference on campus Friday, June 10, and Saturday, June 11. Approximately 125 teachers will participate in various workshops and activities presented by early childhood music experts who will teach them how to incorporate music into their classrooms.

The conference is part of the ECMI, a project developed by Assistant Professor of Music Education Dr. Rachel Whitcomb, through a $100,000 PNC Foundation grant. She designed the initiative to better connect music education and early childhood education so that teachers feel more comfortable implementing music into everyday instruction. The grant was made by PNC in support of its signature philanthropic initiative, PNC Grow Up Great, a 10-year, $100 million bilingual program to improve early childhood education.

“One of the problems that early childhood educators face is that they don’t know how to incorporate the music,” explained Whitcomb, who coordinated the conference. “I think the spirit is willing and they want to do it, but they just don’t know how. There has been support within music education and early childhood education that music should be part of the daily lives of children. The problem is that music teacher certification covers grades K-12, so preschool is left out.”

In addition to Whitcomb, who is an authority on childhood music education, other expert presenters at the conference include:

  • Dr. Melissa Berke, chair of music and coordinator of music education, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Shawn Funk, elementary music specialist and music department chair, Fox Chapel Area School District
  • Patricia Gingras, early childhood coordinator and faculty member, Eastman Community Music School in Rochester, N.Y.
  • Dr. Lisa Gruenhagan, assistant professor of music education and coordinator of student teaching for the College of Musical Arts, Bowling Green State University.

The participants will attend sessions on topics such as activities for young learners, musical play throughout the seasons, singing games and bringing children’s literature alive through music.

“We’re going to talk about the process of putting music in the classroom and we’re going to provide them with some tools and materials to take back with them and use,” said Whitcomb. “They will get not only written lessons, but also a CD of songs that we produced to help those who can’t read music.”

Whitcomb said that they will also have a raffle for books, small instruments and stuffed animals that are related to the lessons and activities covered in the conference presentations.

All teachers in attendance will earn nine hours toward ACT 48 credits.

Duquesne University

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