Friday, April 10, 2015

A Day in the Life of Kenneth Perkins Recap

It's the day before the half-day, before the student holiday, before spring break. Say that five times fast! But it's business as usual in the music room at Joseph Keels Elementary School (JKES) on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Music specialist Kenneth Perkins begins the day with chorus rehearsal at 7:30 a.m. Students practice the songs they will perform at a nursing home, the Sparkleberry Country Fair and Richland Northeast High School's spring festival.

During his first class of the day, Mr. Perkins' fifth graders compose a song using their Chromebooks. He checks each, noting good arrangements and potential problems, "Oh, there should be a half note here," he tells one student.

His next class, third grade are challenged with the question, "How many lines are in a staff?" and "How many e's are in the word guitar?" Then it's time for Recorder Karate. Mr. Perkins brought the idea to JKES. Starting with white, students earn colored strings by mastering the corresponding color-coded songs. Students fanned out across the room to work alone or with a group to learn songs.

The guitar was the first topic in the next period with fourth grade.

"An electrical guitar needs to be plugged into what?" he asks the class.

First graders come in and settle on the music-themed rug for a little, "What's your instrument?" Mr. Perkins plays a simple melody on the keyboard and invites each student to sing.

In the next class, kindergartners played a similar version, but sang about their favorite snacks instead.

Just before the dismissal bell, several fourth graders came back determined to pass their respective Recorder Karate test.

After the bell, Mr. Perkins headed to the rear parking lot where he worked the bus rider line.

Mr. Perkins began his journey in music education at the urging of a college adviser. After student teaching at the elementary level, he realized he had found his place. He is proud of JKES's participation in the University of South Carolina (USC) Strings Project, a consortium effort that started two years ago that allows students to visit USC twice a week to learn a stringed instrument. The newly formed Recorder Ensemble was established this school year and invites skilled recorder players to veer into popular and challenging territory. The group plays popular music on their recorders and performs around the school and community. He is currently pursuing his Masters at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

"What keeps me coming back are those positive experiences I have with the children. I try to record and document as many important musical events as possible. This way, I can refer back those positive experiences when days are really challenging," he said.

Below is Mr. Perkins' day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more!

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