Perfect harmony: Collierville teachers use CEF grants to aid in music education

March is National Music in our Schools Month, so we’re recognizing the power of music and the importance of its availability in schools. According to the National Association of Music Education, giving students a proper music education can help develop their language, memory and reasoning skills. Additionally, music can aid in students’ emotional development, bolster their self-confidence and even teach them discipline and the value of teamwork. That’s why we are so proud that the teachers of Collierville Schools are using their CEF grants to give students the music education they deserve. Here are a few examples.


Tara Oak Elementary school teacher, Marie Milikin, saw that her children were sharing instruments. While sharing is usually encouraged, Ms. Milikin noticed that it sometimes left students unable to effectively and independently learn or practice music. The time spent without their own instrument caused a distraction, leaving them at a loss to understand what their instructor was teaching. Thanks to CEF, Ms. Milikin was able to buy instruments for each one of her students. Now, Tara Oak Elementary students are using bass xylophones, bass bars and temple blocks to make meaningful experiences in the classroom and on stage.


New Tennessee music standards place an emphasis on students composing their own musical ideas. Sycamore Elementary School teacher Angie Knight knew that her students needed new materials in order to create and perform within these standards. Using her CEF grant, Ms. Knight purchased two sets of music learning manipulatives called Music-Go-Rounds. These silicone circles stick to any flat surface and contain a wheel of simple notations and rhythmic manipulatives that help students compose their own short pieces of music. The Music-Go-Rounds also complement another one of Ms. Knight’s CEF grant purchases, Boomwhackers and bell sets. These two musical composition instruments offer students of all ages a fun way to create original music ideas and then perform them.


Candace Blackard, a Tara Oak Elementary school teacher is passionate about teaching music through the Orff Schulwerk method. Through this approach, music is taught actively, or through things like dancing, singing and playing instruments. Ms. Blackard saw the same thing her colleague Ms. Milikin saw, concluding that the lack of instruments was a hindrance to her students’ success, as well as her ability to teach through the methodology she sees as most effective. So, Ms. Blackard used her CEF grant money to purchase a variety of instruments for her students.


One of the instruments purchased that has already shown the most impact is a digital keyboard. Turning away from a traditional piano and focusing on the keyboard has allowed for more all-around flexibility. On its dolly, the keyboard can be easily transported to any area of the school in which a student might need it. Additionally, the keyboard is more regularly accessible, as it’s never out of tune and rarely requires any professional maintenance. The new digital keyboard is also helping to amplify student voices, as it possesses the capability of connecting to the schoolwide sound system. Through access to more instruments, Ms. Blackard says her students will gain a better understanding of music literacy while cultivating a love for music at a young age.


Thank you, teachers of Collierville Schools, for allowing CEF to support your work in instilling an appreciation and understanding of music within our community’s students.

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