A group of Brock Music majors will put their classroom learning into practice this fall as the first students enrolled in the new Music Practicum course.
The multi-year conjunction course allows students to complete for-credit volunteer placements in either music education, music health/therapy, music administration or music in the community.
Music Chair Matthew Royal said the course is unique because it provides real-world learning experiences while also giving students course credit and volunteer hours that are often required for those applying to Faculties of Education down the road.
“The idea is to introduce students to real-world settings that might line up with their future career goals and to have them apply the skills and knowledge they’ve learned from their courses in those settings,” he explained.
It also helps students discover what they are interested in career-wise and how they can achieve their long-term goals, added Koreen McCullough, Experiential Education Co-ordinator, Faculty of Humanities.
“Learning what you don’t like is just as valuable as learning what you do like,” she said. “Students are not only getting the valuable placement experience through this course but are also being taught up front to set their own goals. At the end of term, they will have a chance to reflect on challenges and achievements, access resume coaching and really apply what they’ve learned to help achieve their future career goals.”
Six Music majors signed up to work in schools and community organizations around the Niagara region this year.
Course Co-ordinator Tim Stacey (BA ’15) said the students have already shown themselves to be extremely dedicated and enthusiastic.
“They’ve worked on these placements over the summer, made connections and did their own research to find them,” said Stacey, who has worked for community choirs as well as the Niagara Symphony and Youth Orchestras since graduating from Brock’s Music program. “They didn’t get to just pick a selection from a list. They had to find the placement themselves, so it’s evident how engaged they are.”
Gavino Oresta, a fourth-year Music student, will be completing his placement working with music classes at Saint Michael Catholic High School in Niagara Falls, alongside his former high school music teacher, coincidentally.
With plans to become a music teacher himself, Oresta is looking forward to the challenge of leading his own lessons with the high school students this year.
“For anyone interested in teaching, it’s a great environment,” he said. “It’s also good to get different perspectives on how teachers go about their lesson structure because every school goes about their music program a bit differently.”
Learning about different teaching styles was what piqued the interest of second-year student Brielle Kaminsky, who will be working with extracurricular music ensembles, such as the choir, jazz band and string ensemble, at Ridley College in St. Catharines.
“I’m going to be working with students from all over the world in my placement and it’s really cool seeing how different cultures practice music,” she said. “Not only am I learning in the classroom myself, but I also get to go out and teach what I’m learning in the class to students, too.”
Adds Oresta: “Plus, you’re hanging around in a music class, which is just fun and exciting to me on its own.”For the first few weeks of the course, students will engage in workshops that will identify their learning outcomes for the term and outline the benefits of experiential learning. They will begin their work placements in late September, with the aim of completing 50 volunteer hours by April.
The course is open to all Music majors in second year and above and can be taken consecutively year after year. Applications for next year’s practicum course will open in the spring and anyone interested in applying is encouraged to contact Matthew Royal or Tim Stacey.