From its inception, Growth Public School put a stake in the sand: music education would be a key pillar of its educational philosophy, with high quality staff at the core. Today, Growth Public School is fortunate to count on William Chan as a full-time music teacher. Mr. Chan brings passion, a clear vision and a deep commitment to all of his work with students and families.
According to Mr.Chan, as humans, we have an innate connection to music. “Music is instinctual, and there’s no separating humans from music.”
Mr. Chan follows a music education philosophy that is modeled after Education Through Music, a nonprofit organization. Mr. Chan incorporates a variety of American folk songs into his lessons, and teaches kids to play the games that go along with them. The games encourage the kids to remain playful and connected, and also teach important skills that support focus and follow through. “Last year I did student demonstrations for parents. The parents viewed the work I was doing with the kids as ‘cute’. The reality is that there’s a lot more that goes into it. In my classes, for example, I’m teaching students how to hear, how to collaborate with each other, and how to build social-emotional skills. In addition, as the students learn to read music, they begin to make important connections with math between subdivisions and fractions. A lot of music theory can be very mathematical, and we start to see that, especially with the older elementary students.” He continued, “I’ve come to see that there’s actual magic in teaching music effectively and I hope to be able to make that more obvious to the parents as I refine my craft.”
In addition to offering general music education for the lower grades, the older students at Growth Public School have the option of learning piano or guitar, joining a choir, or participating in a percussion lab that includes bucket drumming and djembe, a type of drum that originates in West Africa. Mr. Chan uses boom whackers and other readily accessible instruments to teach authentic West African rhythms.
Mr. Chan studied Jazz and Music Education at Sacramento State University, first earning a degree in Jazz Studies, and later going on to complete his teaching degree. Jazz guitar is his main instrument, and he knew early in the course of his studies that he wanted to pursue a career in music education.
“I’m passionate about teaching because I want to be really good at it. I’ve had great teachers in my own life who have had a huge influence on me,” he shared. “In my younger years, I had two great role models, both of whom had a major impact on my decision to go into teaching: one of them was a statistics teacher, and the other was my tennis coach. Both modeled exceptional leadership, and showed me that exceptional teachers can help shape the life of so many young people. One day I hope to be as effective as they were with bringing out the best in their students.”
“Music education requires teachers to help students learn discipline. I have had so many beautiful experiences with my students. For example, last year we were getting ready for our parent performance. I was working with the kindergarteners, and they were up on the stage. We needed to stall for a few minutes before beginning our portion of the show, and I knew my window of opportunity was narrow for keeping these little ones focused and engaged. So I had them do a song I had taught them in a previous class. I couldn’t believe it: all the students were locked in–they were completely with me. There must have been something comforting to the kids about hearing a song they already know and love that helped them stay on task. That’s the kind of magic that’s available to us and our communities when we teach music in this way.”
To learn more about the Growth Public School approach to music and how your child can benefit, sign up for a tour today atwww.growthps.org.