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Integrated Music/ELA Curriculum:
Where Does Inspiration Come From?

The students in my English 11 class are still talking about their experience with counter)induction and Edward Klorman, and there is one word that comes into our discussions and their writing.


That was the focus of our readings (well selected by Mr. Klorman) and discussions: what inspires the artist, whether he/she is a writer or musician? The students had not really considered this before, and I don't think I have ever articulated the question either. Based on the students' written and oral responses to the workshop, it is no exaggeration to say that this experience has really reshaped the vision of all of us; we look at and listen to what we are doing, in class and out, in a different way, with a new perspective and a new curiosity.

Thinking about how writers and musicians come up with ideas and shape a work of art made my students take a second look at Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, for instance, which they initially did not especially like. When Ed and I asked them to rework a scene from the novel, the students began to consider the choices the writer made in developing the characters (especially their psychological motivation) and plot. This has continued in our study of Shakespeare's Othello.

I definitely see a new thoughtfulness in my students' writing, both literary analysis and personal writing. Several students also mentioned in their evaluation essays that they have found new life and energy in their music studies; three said they want to revisit instruments they have neglected.

Another benefit of the program, one I really hadn't anticipated, was that the students almost to a person noticed -- and appreciated -- how the members of counter)induction worked together and shared ideas. This is an absolutely invaluable lesson for all of us.

Above all, the members of counter)induction and Ed Klorman personally inspired the students and me with their passion and excitement about their music. Just about everyone in the class commented on that. I think that there is nothing as powerful as real-life exemplars like these musicians for showing us that not only is it "okay" to show how much we love our work, but that it enhances that work, and our lives.

Of course now I want Ed Klorman and counter)induction to be a regular part of my English 11 curriculum! The opportunities this grant gave us (and continues to give us) are just so rich and real and irreplaceable, and we are so grateful to have had this experience.

story by Mary Ann Satter

December, 2007

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