“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
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
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.
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