Dr. Susan Helfter and Dr. Kristy Morrell

Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California


            Who are todayÕs music teachers? In many urban schools, children recognize performing artists who come to their school and teach music as their music teacher. In some cases teaching-artists work collaboratively with classroom teachers to develop music units complementary to other learning, while other teaching-artists deliver a series of music performances or classes emphasizing general music concepts.

            The emergence of the musician teaching-artist exemplifies an imaginative strategy by school administrators and community arts organizations to provide school-based music and arts education to students who would, otherwise, have none. For performing musicians, working with diverse audiences in schools and the community is common for the new generation of professional musicians who adapt to a changing workplace in which they must become vitally involved in teaching and communicating with all audiences. As performing musicians work more as teaching-artists in schools, critical questions arise about their preparedness and training to do so: Who should train teaching-artists? How should they be trained and what should they be trained to do?

            At the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Dr. Susan Helfter and Dr. Kristy Morrell collaborate in the training of teaching-artists and have developed effective practices from the perspective of both music education and performance.

            Dr. Susan HelfterÕs academic, research, and performance focus is upon music outreach and training musicians as teaching-artists. Dr. Helfter applies her expertise in this field as the Director of Outreach Programs and lecturer in music education at USC. In this collaboration, Dr. Helfter guides students in program development and presentation, resulting in dynamic and engaging educational programs for school children.

            Faculty member and French hornist Dr. Kristy Morrell is a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Opera. She is also a respected recording artist, performing on numerous motion picture and television soundtracks. Teaching objectives Dr. Morrell has for her performance students include achieving the highest level of musicianship while developing skills in program design, public speaking, organization and communication of musical information, teamwork and musical citizenship.

            The goal of the collaboration is for chamber ensembles at USC to design and perform childrenÕs concerts with effective teaching components and that achieve the performance goals outlined by Dr. Morrell. This session will focus on the three-step process of the teaching-artist training, including: Musicianship – learning ensemble fundamentals and music from the standard repertoire; Program Design and Rehearsal – guiding the musician teaching-artists in the design of educational programs using research-based effective practices of delivery skills and content that are age-appropriate and address music content standards; and Performance and Feedback – performance opportunities, reflection, revision and additional performances. Video-clips will demonstrate portions of the educational programs created by the chamber ensembles and, finally, an assessment of the collaboration itself will provide insight into developing and expanding the project to involve additional student musicians and faculty members.