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Los Palos. A Dominican Musical Expression.

As a culturally responsive, relevant, and ABAR teacher, my praxis is always evolving. One of my goals is to guide my students through the discovery of their cultural identity. This guided process is aligned with two of the SEL Standards of Self-Awareness and Social Awareness, as well as our 2014 Musical Standard of Connecting. I find that some of my students mistakenly suggest that "they do not have a culture." This misconception is grounded on what they consider to be culture. To them, culture is the colorful dresses, the beautiful songs, energetic dances, the yummy foods, and interesting celebrations to name a few. This is what we know as Surface Culture. But culture is much more than that. As I approach the "what to teach," o ne of the challenges that I typically encounter,  is how limiting the musical curriculums available to us can be. To address this, I am always asking questions and consulting cultural bearers, community stakeholders, and student family memb
Recent posts

Where is it?/¿Dónde está? A singing, listening, and seeking game.

Valentine’s day is approaching, and like many educators, I like to take advantage of the excitement my students feel about some celebrations and holidays, which allows me to practice essential musical skills, tailored to also acknowledge the occasion, in a fun and engaging way. In the past, I used to reinforce singing and listening using contrasting dynamics such as piano and forte by playing a game of hide and seek with my students. For this game of listening, singing, and seeking, I used the song “ Lucy Locket. ” After learning about the obscure past and the adult theme content of this song, thanks to the Song with a Questionable Past document compiled by Lauren McDougle, I quickly realized that I can no longer use this song in the classroom. I strive to correct course content as I learn new information that can impact my students negatively; simply trying my best to do better. Last year, my students asked to play the game and I explained that the history behind the song was inappro

Promoting Students' Agency in the Music Classroom

Hi all, I have been away from this space for a while. 2021 was absolutely crazy.  2022 brings hopes of getting back to the things that I enjoy most. Writing about my experiences in the music classroom is one of them.  I would like to start the year by sharing with you some of the strategies and activities that worked for me in the classroom to promote students' agency.  At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, I made it my goal to focus on creating a space for my students where they could explore their identities. Our mantra is, "every day is a new beginning and I get to choose to show who I am." I asked them "How do you want to be seen?"  Whether we are listening or making music, navigating how to play various instruments, getting into ensembles, or composing a song, our identities are bound to come out at every step of each activity.  With all the trauma we have endured the past two years, I must create trauma-informed lesson plans that purposefully embed so

What is this unity that I keep hearing about?

Unity and healing are the buzzwords of the moment. Like many Americans, I was inspired watching the inauguration ceremony. The words of the brilliant young poet Amanda Gorman filled my heart with so much hope. The diversity at the event was a much-improved sight. Purple, my favorite color, was worn by many of our leaders with the intent to visually represent a desire to communicate a message of unity. But what is this unity that I keep hearing about? What does it entail? After George Floyd and what seems never-ending events of police brutality and tumultuous protests, many have been awakened to the deep neglect and injustice suffered by our underrepresented and marginalized communities. Many have been compelled to learn and study the racial tensions that exist in our society. We are now learning about violent historical events that are often omitted from our history books. Music educators in particular are also realizing how pervasive is the use of songs with a dark historical backgrou

Be an Anti-racist Music Teacher

The current challenges of our society are forcing us, in a good way, to reflect on our teaching philosophy and practices. We are asked to revise our curriculum and our own intercultural competence in order to foster a more culturally responsive classroom. Here is an essential question: How do I become an Anti-Racist teacher? Here is a great definition: Anti-Racist Pedagogy: 1.“It is a pedagogy that is grounded in deep self-interrogation of your role in upholding White Supremacy and internalizations that come from being socialized in a racist society. It evaluates areas of racist thought that result in behaviors that cause students to have to navigate, suppress, and ignore moments or environments where racism is apparent. 2.It is a pedagogy that is undergirded by efforts outside of the classroom that focuses on antiracist engagement. It focuses on changing “policy instead of groups of people.” A Pedagogy for Living by Jason A Dungee. Choral Journal Volume 61 Number 4, 2020 Being more in

Inclusion. More than a buzzword, is a form of radical love.

Teaching this year has me feeling like a first-year teacher all over again, and I am trying to make the best out of the situation.  There are so many things that are different about this school year that it is impossible to approach our jobs the same way. In order to address this year’s new challenges, a divided nation, a health crisis, teaching through a pandemic, a society reckoning with social justice, we can not plan/teach the same way or use the same materials. We have to start from scratch, and that is ok.  Starting from scratch, with our music standards to guide us, provides the opportunity to really look at what we are teaching and how we are truly impacting our students.  I am a goal-oriented person and my goals for this year are:  To survive To keep the joy of music alive in my students  And most importantly, to keep inclusion at the center of everything I do, “let them be seen” To keep inclusion at the center of my teaching, these are the things I keep in mind when I sit dow

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

From September 15th through October 15th we celebrate the presence of the Latino Culture in the USA. As you read, you will notice how I use the term Latino and Hispanic interchangeably, keep reading and you will find out why. Although a month is not enough to acknowledge the contributions made by the Latinx community, coming from 34 different countries south of the border to the USA, it is a good start to highlight the richness and complexity of all the different cultures. What makes us Latinos? How about the countries in South America and the Caribbean whose official language is English, are they Latinos too?  Does the term Latino-Hispanic exclude Jamaica, Belice, or Trinidad y Tobago because they speak English, a Germanic language? Or Guyana and Suriname because they speak Dutch? How about French Guinea in South America, being a French territory? All of these countries have a common geographical location and most of them share Romance Languages derived from Latin. Hence the term Lati