From kindergarten classroom to college campus, one extraordinary teacher reflects on her Quaver journey
By Kristin Clark Taylor
For Dr. Kara Ireland D’Ambrosio, a general music teacher at Woodside Elementary in San Mateo, California, the search began many years ago.
“Before I found Quaver,” she readily admits, “I was relying on a music curriculum that was outdated and didn’t promote equity in the classroom. It wasn’t authentic or culturally relevant, which meant it wasn’t valuable to me or to my students. I knew I needed a change.”
So Dr. Ireland D’Ambrosio, widely regarded for being a solution-driven game-changer in both elementary and higher education, launched her own search and found exactly what she was looking for: QuaverMusic.
“Quaver offers variety, diversity, access, and full cultural representation,” she says. “I want my elementary students to connect with not just the standard classical composers that are often Euro-centric, but with music and cultures from around the world. They need to interact with music from all over the world and be able to identify and connect with the various diverse experiences. Quaver gives them that.”
This is a resource, she says, that “brings my students to life. You can see it in their faces. I can almost feel the learning happening.”
She ticks off a list of student favorites. “The song ‘You-Nique’ helps my students feel valued and respected for their unique qualities and characteristics. It allows them to celebrate themselves and each other.”
World Music Matters
Ireland D’Ambrosio describes how she and her students “visited” West Africa recently. “We used Quaver’s ‘World Music’ module to see live musicians demonstrate the instruments and to learn more about West Africa’s culture, the singing, and the dancing.”
For this multi-level teacher, resilience and flexibility are key – and so is access. The PK-8th grade teacher says, “We don’t have money in the budget for the expensive West African drums, so we used hand drums. The ‘World Music’ curriculum — the music, the culture, the musicians themselves — bring West Africa to life.”
Clearly, she appreciates the connection Quaver provides: “The students are able to play West African rhythms and hand-drumming techniques on the hand drums and feel like they are playing the real drums that the Quaver musician is demonstrating. Quaver opens the doorway to all of these great platforms for my students. It widens their world. ”
Indeed, diversity, access, and representation are the cornerstones of this cutting-edge music curriculum. Visit the company’s website and you’ll be greeted with these inclusive, welcoming words:
“We believe that all children, regardless of race,
ethnicity, disability, economic status, religious background,
sexual orientation and identity, academic standing, or exceptionalities
have the right to a well-rounded education.”
Another Key Component: Adhering to State and National Standards
According to Dr. Ireland D’Ambrosio, Quaver is also extremely helpful in ensuring that she adheres to state music standards, particularly important in her state, “since our state music standards here in California are based fully on the national standards,” she says.
“When I’m sharing my lesson plans and communicating my teaching goals to my administrators and to the school board, they want evidence that I am teaching to the standards. Quaver helps keep me right on track by allowing me to show the administrators my scope and sequence of learning. It helps me create a very clear path.”
This much we know for sure: Quaver’s music curriculum is growing in popularity – not just in California but throughout the USA and the world — and its user-friendly resources are helping to make teaching accessible, equitable, engaging, and, just plain fun.
The Leap to Higher Ed
Dr. Ireland D’Ambrosio wears several hats: She is also an Adjunct Music Education Professor and Field Experience Coordinator for Secondary Education at San Jose State University, where she uses Quaver regularly.
“I use Quaver in all of the music method classes that I teach at San Jose state,” she says. “Even when I’m working with non-music majors, I use the curriculum to teach music. Many of my SJSU students did not receive elementary music education. As preservice elementary classroom teachers, they are required to learn how to teach all subjects, including music. They also want to learn innovative ways of teaching to be prepared for their future classrooms.”
She continues: “My SJSU students know music is an important vehicle for teaching, so I begin teaching them about music concepts and making music by using the Quaver curriculum, modeling an elementary classroom. Then I teach them how to use the Quaver curriculum to teach. My goal is to train them on how to employ the Quaver curriculum now, so they’ll have an excellent resource to use later on in their teaching. These resources give them a firm foundation, straight out of the gate.”
So whether you’re working with students in an elementary school surrounded by second and third-graders or in a college classroom surrounded by graduate students and soon-to-be teachers, QuaverMusic is bringing value to the education community throughout the state of California. At every level of learning, the company is creating a positive, sustainable impact.
Just ask the elementary school music teacher and college professor who’s seen the curriculum at work in both places.
She’ll tell you.
Kristin Clark Taylor is an author and a journalist.