“All the Arts for All the Kids” Artist Greg Adamson

Text and Photos by Caitlin Orr

from the Fullerton Observer (Mid March 2012 Observer)

Cellist Greg Adamson, an “All the Arts for All the Kids” artist/educator for over ten years, was the only music teacher in Orange County to receive the “Honor an Educator” award from the College of Education at California State University, Fullerton in 2008.

He has performed with an eclectic and impressive list of companies and bands, from Hutchins Consort to the Riverside Philharmonic to Elton John, Guns ‘n Roses, and Rod Stewart (and that’s only naming a few!).

Entering one of his “All the Arts” classrooms the students eagerly greet him with an enthusiastic “BUONGIORNO!” – hands to their lips and extending them out in a very Italian fashion.

Greg makes history come alive with his stories and recitals of historic events and the role music plays in them. He also explains the connections between math and music when talking about intervals (a combination of at least two notes) and the process of breaking down the value of notes within a measure. A lesson aimed at hearing the difference between Major and Minor intervals had the entire class listening intently to different chords and sounds, voting on which one they thought Greg was playing.

Greg Adamson
Mr. Adamson teaches students to recognize intervals.

 

There were six different intervals to listen for: minor 2nd, Major 2nd, minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th. Each was introduced and connected to songs the students were familiar with. For instance, the minor 2nd interval had the opening notes of the terrifying JAWS music…dun, dun, dun, whereas, the Perfect 4th interval was known to the class as the “Here Comes the Bride” song. Perfect 5th became known as the very informative and funny “ABC Baa Baa Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Wars” interval (much to the delight of the giggling students). Greg named each interval after a popular song or historical event that it was related to. He explained to the students that when they listen to the intervals and hear the differences between them, they are exercising both hemispheres of their brain, helping them to make connections and improve in various areas of their studies.

Studentsstudents
Above: Students learn to read music and play the drum.

In the same week, Greg taught a drumming lesson in which each student learned to sight-read notes written on the board and then play them on their individual drum pads with their very own drum sticks. The classroom became a concert hall as the students progressed from the start of the lesson to the finishing number, as Greg changed whole notes to quarter notes and kept the students on their toes. The atmosphere in the classroom was full of excitement as students were all trying to show-off for their classroom teacher and Mr. Adamson (who, according to one student’s language arts assignment, has the “longest feet in the classroom”).

Greg’s “All the Arts” Music lessons are entertaining, informative, and extremely fun. Music is an essential art form that can help students learn to make connections and improve their math scores. Adamson’s classes exemplify the thoughts of Dr. John Ratey, author of A User’s Guide to the Brain, “The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling--training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.”

Greg’s classes also help students on their paths to self-discovery which can open up whole new worlds of possibility for children. As Daniel A. Carp, the CEO of Eastman Kodak Company says, “Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music, we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and to the myriad rhythms of life.”

All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides funding for lessons in art, music, dance, theatre, and movie-making for all the elementary children in the Fullerton School District. To learn more about All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation, please visit allthearts.org