Metro Music Makers has an ongoing partnership with HomeStretch, an organization that guides working homeless families with minor children toward increased self-reliance and stability by providing Life Skills education, mentoring and supportive housing. Every other Tuesday night, we send a music instructor with a music therapy background to facilitate music classes for the children while the parents attend Life Skills classes. Calia Howse, a voice, clarinet, guitar, piano and ukulele instructor at Metro Music Makers, has been leading these classes recently, and she shares some of her experiences below.
I was recently given an opportunity to work with children from families served by the non-profit organization HomeStretch. Every other Tuesday night, the families gather for dinner at a local church. After enjoying a meal together, music and art classes begin. As the music teacher, I bring my guitar and use the stringed instrument as a tool to introduce fun music activities to the group. Although some of the children know each other from school, I always begin by singing a “hello song.” This introduction provides a gentle and safe way for everyone (myself included) to become familiar with the group, and to learn something new about one another. The flow of communication and positive socialization ultimately builds a sense of community between the teacher and the students.
I introduce the group to a variety of instruments, which are recognized by the students from their music classes in school. This makes me smile on the inside, because I know their music teachers are doing a great job of familiarizing their students with musical instruments.
During our time together, we play music activities focusing on cognitive, social, communicative and educational engagement. Not only do I bring ideas of my own, but the children are very creative and active, which make the activities more constructive… and fun!
When music time comes to an end, I am able to bring the parents into the music activities with their children. The children enjoy this especially, because they are able to see a sillier side of their family members. Sharing music activities and being able to have fun together gives everyone a chance to forget about the outside world, and for that moment, experience the joy of music.
I truly believe that children are precious gifts, with potential to achieve greatness when motivated by positive influences. I am privileged to have the opportunity to utilize my musical abilities to work with and support the faculty and families of the HomeStretch community.
– Written by Calia Howse, voice, clarinet, guitar, piano and ukulele instructor at Metro Music Makers