Frontier music teacher makes the most of remote learning

Hamburg

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB)– As many kids in our area learn remotely right now, some teachers are going above-and-beyond to make sure their kids are engaged through a computer screen.

Meet a music teacher in the Frontier School District who is teaching to the beat of his own drum.

“I think music is one of our basic human expressions, and I think it’s something really central to being a human being, and I think making music together is one of the most powerful ways of being together.”

James DesJardins, Music Teacher, Frontier School District

In his empty classroom inside Pinehurst Elementary School, James DesJardins teaches kindergarteners how to match a beat, while also lifting the spirits of kids who are stuck at home.

In his 15th year leading a classroom, DesJardins says one of the toughest transitions has been using different teaching materials.

The school is now fully remote and the many tiny instruments in his room are just collecting dust.

“Teachers are just trying to use what they have at home. I know PHYS ED. does sock-balls a lot, our PHYS ED. department, I know that’s a big thing, so I try to use those also because I know people have socks around at the very least. Stuffed animals, I’m using those a lot.”

James DesJardins, Music Teacher, Frontier School District

But what the kids had at home wasn’t quite enough for him.

DesJardins says, “There was a landscaper about an hour from here who posted on Facebook Marketplace, free buckets… there were like 400 for free.”

He drove to get those buckets. He cleaned out all 400.

Just weeks before the school would go fully remote, he got students together outside for a socially distanced drum performance.

He said many students have been missing the ensembles and chorus opportunities during this time.

They’ve missed working as a group.

But for 30 minutes, banging drumsticks on some free buckets, these kids were able to unwind and create something together for the first time in a long time.

“A lot of people are missing the togetherness, and making music together is such a strong way of being together.”

James DesJardins, Music Teacher, Frontier School District

DeJardins says 2nd-through-5th graders were allowed to take the buckets home.

He uses them almost daily in his virtual music classes.

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