From January – May 2015, the Lowell Public School faculty completed 48 hours of training, meeting once a week for three hours a week for 16 weeks. Professional development in spring 2015 for the teachers was offered through the LPS Teacher Academy and participants received three graduate credits from Fitchburg State University. Classes were co-taught by master musician Song Heng and Rita McLaughlin, a music teacher at the Murkland School. She provided historical and cultural context to support the music instruction. Teachers are required to develop curriculum to integrate Cambodian classical music into their classes. From October 2015 – May 2016, a total of six additional workshops are being offered to provide teachers with continued assistance as they implement the curriculum units.
Throughout the grant master musician Song Heng will provide training to local master folk musicians Sovann Khon, Kimhan Meas and Vith Chrorm. In the spring 2016 music teachers at the Murkland and Stoklosa schools plan on presenting a special Cambodian New Year celebration featuring Cambodian classical music performed by some of the students, as well as Song Heng and the folk musicians.
The professional development lessons for the teachers are being videotaped so that participants will have them as a reference and newly hired music teachers will be able to access instruction with the assistance of a mentor-teacher. These videos are available on this site under Videos.
The pilot project for integrating more classical Cambodian music study into the curriculum will be a spiral curriculum starting in the elementary schools with simple melodies and rhythms that can be performed on pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments and flutes as well as through singing. In the middle school, more complex melodic and rhythmic patterns will be explored through playing the pinpeat ensemble instruments and through singing. At Lowell High School, students will study more advanced melodic and rhythmic patterns as an instructional component of the World of Drums class. From this class, it is our hope that a student pinpeat ensemble will be formed.