November 13, 2014

The ukuleles are coming, the ukuleles are coming!

Friends' music teacher Monica Benko with a few of
her Kindergarten students

A wonderful package was delivered to Friends’ School this week. 

We are excited to announce that we have bought an entire class set of ukuleles for our elementary school music program.  Our elementary music teacher Monica Benko is thrilled to begin a strings instrument program with some of her classes.

This purchase was made possible by a very generous donation from a former Friends’ teacher whose gift is supporting not only the music program, but also the Polly T. Donald Enrichment Fund, which supports the rejuvenation of our teachers and staff. The gift will also support the purchase of additional grades of the "Gameplan Series" music curriculum for our lower grades. It is a combination series of Orff, Kodaly, and Delcroze music methodologies.

Monica believes that music is the expression of the human experience through sound. She is excited

Friends' 3rd graders unpacking the ukuleles
on Thursday this week
to add a strings element to an already rich music program at Friends’.

Music is ever present in our culture – in movies, in our cars, at sporting events, and for many of our families, in our homes where our children play instruments. Monica’s goals are for her students to love and appreciate music, and to enrich their lives through music. She loves to make music fun, to help her students learn music through playing games, and she enjoys teaching kids to compose their own musical creations.

The children of Friends’ School are jazzed to begin playing the ukuleles.  Here are two extracts from a couple of letters from our fifth grade students to the donor:

“Thank you so much for all that you have done to help bring music to life at our school! Music means the world to me and I love to meet people who love it as much as I do.  Thank you for donating the rest of the music curriculum so the younger grades get to experience music the same way we do. Ukuleles are wonderful! I have always wanted to play a string instrument for I play piano and I am so excited to learn ukulele. I want to learn ukulele because then I will have even more music and more challenges. In music at school, we have written our own songs and we are going to compose them! We are also doing songs for our play and are learning the songs for it! I love singing and acting!”
- Anna

“I am so excited to learn how to play ukulele with the rest of my class.  I have been wanting to learn how to play a string instrument for a while. Everyone in my class was so excited when we heard that we were going to learn how to play ukulele.”
 – Julia

Friends' music teacher Monica Benko
Monica is a gifted music teacher who brings so much of herself to Friends’. The daughter of an elementary band teacher and a high school teacher, she has played piano since 1st grade, and oboe since 4th grade. In elementary school, her school had no instruments so instead she just sang to old music textbooks. However, through listening to music on CDs, Monica fell in love with singing and was inspired to become a music teacher herself.  Consequently, she loves the richness of instruments and materials she has to work with at Friends’. In high school, Monica was in band, played oboe and was the drum major of the marching band, and sang in choir, and show choir. She sang in an a cappella group in college, and still sings at weddings and church services locally.

Two summers ago, Monica worked for the National Park Service as a Ranger in Grand Teton National Park.  In this position she wrote curriculum for the National Park Service, and created an interdisciplinary unit that incorporated National Park concepts and music concepts.  She loves science as well as music, and looks forward to developing more curricula that integrates outdoor education with music education.

This past summer, she married her fiancĂ© Craig Benko. We are lucky to have Monica here and we are looking forward to hearing her students add their brand new ukuleles to their music experience at Friends’. 

1 comment:

shelpaw said...

What a wonderful addition to the Friends' music program! Having recently watched the video below, I'm particularly happy to know our students will be learning a musical instrument.