Public school districts schedule periodic professional development during the school year for their faculties. While offering opportunities for faculty, the school students receive a day off. This schedule can sometimes wreak havoc with University music education students who are scheduled for field experiences on those days – chances to leave their Penn State classrooms to go into the schools and interact with actual music students.
On Friday, Oct. 24 and Friday, Nov. 4, Penn State music education students were scheduled to go to the schools to observe but, since these were professional development days for the public school teachers, students were not present. So, the music education faculty decided to see if the school students might be willing instead to come to the University Park campus on their day off to play their instruments.
All fourth and fifth grade band students at State College Area School District were invited to campus on October 24, and 26 students took the offer. With virtually all students indicating they would come again if given the opportunity, an invitation was sent to all fourth and fifth grade students who play band AND orchestra instruments to visit campus on the November 4 professional development day. Over 80 students registered for the second event, giving the Penn State music education students a chance to engage and teach young instrumentalists.
There is no substitute in a music education students' education for actually interacting with students, and it is clear that these young instrumentalists can't get enough of playing! Due to the popularity of this pilot program, hopes are high that it can continue in the future.