School lunch is often synonymous with loud noise. Studies have shown the decibel level in some cafeterias is as high as a lawnmower! Every so often, though, students at Alice Terry Elementary southwest of Denver trade talking for live music. It’s a new experience for students in this high-poverty district.
This is a transcript of CPR education reporter Jenny Brundin's story:
Reporter Jenny Brundin: When the music teacher told students here they’d occasionally have a “silent” lunch break, this was the reaction:
Student: Why, why do we need silent lunch, is it because we’re too loud or something?!
Brundin: Nah…impossible! Actually, that is the reason there’s a growing movement nationally to have “silent” lunches. But that’s not the reason music teacher Ami Hall got the idea to turn down the volume. She knew students here didn’t have a lot of exposure to live instruments. Hall herself likes to go to concerts and live jazz clubs, so she started asking musicians to come in at lunch.
Ami Hall: When you give the kids a chance to hear something that is outside of their range, it allows them to be curious, and if they’re curious, they’re learners in every subject.
Reporter: When she told students a “saxophonist” was coming, it was perplexing.
Student: I thought, what can that music thing that they were using…could be?!
Reporter: Students soon were looking at a shiny gold saxophone played by Harold Rapp, a local musician. The kids were entranced. And as Hall had theorized, being quiet at lunch allowed the kids to think about what they were hearing and how it was affecting them.
Student 1: The music makes me calmer, and it doesn’t make me shout out or do something crazy.
Student 2: Yeah, it calms me down too. And it makes my heart beat slow instead of fast.
Reporter: Rapp strolls up and down the cafeteria rows, delighting the kids. They smile and laugh, but mostly just watch him quietly as they eat…thinking.
Student: I was thinking about…hmmmm….he…he’s pretty good.
Student: I was thinking about when I first saw him, he looked so handsome.
Student: I liked the part where, um, he goes up to kids and plays loud sounds at him with his saxophone.
Teacher Ami Hall: I love the conversation he made with the music with them, so that he would play a note and the child would respond with a facial reaction, and he would play, and they would respond.
Reporter: And then, saxophonist Harold Rapp kicks it up a notch.
Student: When the music came on, I just wanted to dance!
Reporter: One kid plays an imaginary air guitar. One little girl I notice - she just sways her wool-capped head back and forth. She’s in the zone, humming along.
Student: I was going, “huh, uh, huh, uh, huh-uh-huh-uh-huh.”’
Reporter: But of course, this is school, so there has to be a bit of formal learning.
Hall: Show with your hands what you can hear.
Reporter: As Rapp plays a scale, ascending the notes, all the little hands in Alice Terry Elementary raise their hands higher and higher --high above the crumbs on their plates.
The Alice Terry Elementary students interviewed in this story were: Madeline Zamora, Edson Jimenez, Alan Vasquez, Celeste Lawrence , Megan Olsen, Alyssa Norquette, Alexandra Garcia and Amir Snider.