VOLUNTEER REPORT - C. Mark Angelo
Sadly, my stay at Shanti Bhavan has come to an end. If there is one thing of which I am certain, it is that I will cherish the four weeks I spent here for the rest of my life: my experience here at Shanti Bhavan was nothing short of an experience of a lifetime. I feel very special to have been given such an opportunity and hope my efforts were of benefit to all at the school. I can not begin to express the joy and fulfillment I experienced in sharing my love for music with the children and I will greatly miss the kindness and generosity I experienced during my stay here at Shanti Bhavan.
During my first week at Shanti Bhavan, I was able to get a good feel of the children’s musical abilities. I was very impressed with the speed at which they were able to pick up new tunes and words. In each class I could see a number of talented singers and tested all the children to assess which children demonstrated not only a good voice, but a good ear for music. Throughout my stay, the staff was very helpful in keeping the children quiet when I was teaching and helping out as best they could with all the songs. I would not have been able to do much had it not been for their help and assistance.
At the beginning of my second week, I had the pleasure of meeting the music teacher. We hit it off well and I expressed to her my wish of continuing on her work during those days of the week she could not be at Shanti Bhavan. She gave me guidance in choosing appropriate songs for the children and helped to prepare my weekly programs for the children.
Each day I would take each class separately for singing. During my first week I had discovered that each class had different abilities and learning patterns, so in order to succeed, I would have to handle each class a little differently. With the preschoolers my main objective was to help introduce the English language through song. I worked closely with their teachers to teach them a number of songs, and used animated actions to help them remember all the foreign words as well as keep the classes fun and interesting.
With the kindergarten and grade one classes, my main objective was to instill a love for music in the children. To start the class we would do a short warm up and a few note exercises. Then to ensure their interest in music and singing, we would go over songs they knew and enjoyed. We would then spend about ten minutes on learning new songs, and if there was time remaining, have a musical game to end the class. I learned that to keep the children interested, I myself had to remain animated and lively at all times. I felt the children responded well to the program and learned a great deal in a very short period of time.
For the grade two and three classes, my main objective was to introduce the children to new songs that were challenging both melodically and rhythmically. I would spend a little more time on note exercises and a little less time on songs the children already knew. Most of the period was spent teaching new songs and introducing them to interesting and fun rhythm patterns. They accomplished a lot more than I had expected and surmounted all the challenges I threw their way.
The morning music classes were rather demanding and I welcomed the two hour break that followed lunch. My evenings consisted of piano tuition, games, and choir practice. I found the piano practice sessions very rewarding as I felt I was able to catalyze the students progress by providing them with constructive criticism. I was very happy with their enthusiasm to learn and their natural music ability. Much congratulations to their teacher.
Games period was also very fulfilling as I was given the opportunity to help the children with their soccer skills which were already quite advanced. I challenged them on the field to always play their best. I also took a few basketball lessons with the children, emphasizing passing and shooting techniques. I found the children still a little too young to be starting this sport although they were more than ready to give it their best. Due to the large size of a basketball, I think the children might be better equipped for the sport at the age of nine of ten.
Choir practice was extremely rewarding for me. Having selected the best singers from K.G. to Grade three, I was able to do challenging songs with the children and see a great deal of progress. My main goal was to prepare the children for a concert they would be giving in the first week of July. After listening to the school song and transcribing it to paper, I was able to finally teach the children the song. I spent most of my efforts on making sure that they sang the song correctly, both melodically and rhythmically. Although the song is rather challenging, through perseverance they were able to learn the song perfectly.
Looking back on the past four weeks, I must admit that I greatly enjoyed my stay at Shanti Bhavan. It was an experience I will never forget and I believe I have learned a great deal. I enjoyed every minute I spent with the children and will miss them dearly. Much thanks to the teachers and staff for making my job a great deal more enjoyable and beneficial for the children.
I commend the teachers and staff on the work they are doing at Shanti Bhavan. The bright, lively, energetic, intelligent, polite and loving children attest to all your hard work and effort. As does The George Foundation, I too believe that a nation’s greatest resource is its children; the work you are doing will not only benefit the many talented children of Shanti Bhavan but your country and all those with whom your children come in contact, now and in future. Keep up the spectacular work and may God bless you for your dedication and kind hearts.
C. Mark Angelo
Tuesday, June 27, 2000