Unit 5: Building Community
Teaching artists Emily Kubitskey and Nikki Shorts work with youngsters both in school and out of school through the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s educational initiatives. At Charles White and Charles Kim Elementary Schools in Los Angeles, they teach K-2 students “Song of Peace,” set to music from Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, and use a multicultural curriculum inspired by the lyrics. Emily and Nikki introduce students to folk songs from Hawaii (“Aloha Kakahiaka”), Ghana (“A Keelie Makolay”), and Mexico (“Mi Cuerpo”). Then they guide students to perform in an ensemble using boomwhackers — plastic tubes of different lengths that make sounds when they hit open palms. The students use color-coded graphics to play the chords to “This Land is Your Land” as they sing along.
During a Saturday session, students from Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) participate in “buddy time,” during which older students play team-building games with younger students. One of their activities involves coming up with ideas to make participation in the upcoming YOLA Neighborhood Project Day Concert go smoothly for youngsters who have never performed in public before.
Emily and Nikki’s students from both the school-based and out-of-school programs participate in the concert, where more than 2,000 young musicians perform “Song of Peace” from Finlandia for their families and others in their community.