This year, over 50 Yale School of Music students—about 25% of the YSM student body—are working as Teaching Artists in schools through the Music in Schools Initiative. But what is a Teaching Artist?
The Teaching Artist program is the in-school component of the Music in Schools Initiative, an ongoing partnership between the Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public Schools, with funding from the Yale College Class of 1957. During the academic year, the Music in Schools Initiative places Teaching Artists in more than 30 public schools throughout New Haven. By our definition, Teaching Artists are YSM students trained to complement the work of full-time NHPS music teachers. They teach sectionals, ensembles, private lessons, and other activities depending on the needs of the school to which they are assigned.
After he matches Teaching Artists to their schools at the beginning of the year, Rubén Rodríguez, Lead Teacher of the Music in Schools Initiative, regularly visits and observes (and occasionally photographs) them at work. Based on his observations, we will be featuring 1–2 of our Teaching Artists each week and sharing some of their experiences.
Patrick Jankowski ’15 MMA is in his third year as a Teaching Artist. One of our most productive Teaching Artists, Patrick works in schools five days a week and teaches about two dozen different students on French horn, trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. On Saturdays he also coaches sectionals for the All-City Honors Band, and in summer 2013 he taught in the Morse Summer Music Academy.
Whether he’s teaching a private lesson at Mauro Sheridan School or playing alongside beginners in band class at Bishop Woods School, Patrick tries to keep things exciting for his students: “There is a strong correlation between their excitement level and their learning curve. When it's fun, they practice. When they practice, they get better. When they get better, it gets more fun.”
Patrick also has a lot of fun himself, and sees himself having a great impact on students and the community. “All of the hours that I've put into diligently studying my instrument, and into comprehending the art and science of music, converge in that one moment when I see a child's face light up because of music – it’s that same spark that music lit in me 12 years ago when I first picked up my horn," he says. "Lighting one spark in one child makes it worth it, but MISI has shown me that by continuing to teach, I can light so many sparks that might make the world a little brighter.”
Though only a first-year Teaching Artist, Jonathan Slade ’15 AD is also very committed to teaching. "I found out about the Music in Schools Initiative before I even applied to the university," he says, "and I always knew it was something I was going to want to do if I managed to get in."
Jonathan teaches flute four days a week at Augusta Lewis Troup School and John C. Daniels School, with about a dozen regular students joining him for group and private lessons. He says he enjoys teaching because he benefits from it as much as the students do: “I enjoy it, but also it clarifies ideas I have about my own playing and technique, because even when you're teaching beginners—perhaps especially when you're teaching beginner students—the fundamentals have to be right. It's been a useful learning experience for me as well as for the kids."
Like Patrick, Jonathan also believes his work is a great way of engaging with local children and the community: “I think it’s easy to live in your Yale bubble… but I didn't want to be entirely disengaged from the community.” He continues, “It's nice to have that sensation of being involved with the city, and that's vital for the university to be doing. I think the Music in Schools Initiative is a wonderful way of giving something back to the community."