Saturday, May 16, 2015

Darlayne Coughlin: Drumline, Band-leader, LPM Teacher!

Darlayne Coughlin, Middleton, WI

Hello!  I'm delighted to be in this month's Let's Play Music Teacher Spotlight.  My musical journey began at age 10;  I started learning to play the flute in the 5th grade band and never quit. I've been teaching music for 10 years and Let's Play Music specifically since 2010, when I stumbled upon the program in a funny way.

A short time after finishing up my degree and student teaching at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, I took on a part-time babysitting job watching a whole slew of kiddos while a music teacher taught classes to young children in her home.  Being in the room next door to the classes and a musician myself, I was always intrigued as to what was going on in that room where I heard laughter, singing, and merriment.  One day that teacher (Gina Weibel) said to me, "Hey, you're a musician, why don't you glance through my lesson plans and maybe you should become a Let's Play Music teacher too!"  The moment I read through the curriculum I was excited and, no doubt, hooked.  

I currently teach 6 classes each week and will be training soon to teach Sound Beginnings as well.  My husband is a musician too, and we recently built a home in Middleton, WI (a suburb of Madison) with a studio space designated for Let's Play Music classes, flute, and percussion private lessons.

Join the Band
In addition to teaching Let's Play Music, I am a full time middle school band director in Middleton.  When I began my career, my job included teaching general music to Kindergarteners in addition to the middle school band responsibilities.  When my teaching assignment shifted to band only, I missed my really young students quite a bit, but that's when Let's Play Music serendipitously showed up in my life.  

I can't count how many times I have talked about the program or told parents of my students that their 4 or 5 year old has a stronger foundation in music than my middle school band students (even after they have/had music classes multiple times per week every year they've been in school!).  Nearly all of my LPM students have been from my neighborhood or a neighborhood close by.  Many of my current students and graduates will attend the school I work at in a few years.  I can't wait for the day when I see my Let's Play Music graduates as members of my band class.  I know they will be the leaders and already have the skills needed to not only read and interpret music, but also know what it means to have to, "Practice everyday..." so "lots of songs they'll learn to play!" 

Rhythm Skills that Work
One of my FAVORITE things about the Let's Play Music curriculum is the way in which we teach rhythm!  The rhythmic patterns that are taught in Blue Bugs and the way in which they are transferred to "real counting" by the 3rd year is amazing!  Middle school band kids often struggle with rhythm and counting and I've spent countless hours thinking about how to adapt and adopt the methodologies behind our rhythm instruction to suit their needs.  

Miss Darlayne Rocks the Drumline
I've always enjoyed the teaching side of music more than the performing side of music (unless you count leading an ensemble of band students or kids performing at a recital performing...I really enjoy doing both of those).  But, despite my "dislike" for performing music, I do perform at every home game played by the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.  My husband directs the Tundraline, the official drumline of the team; he and I are two of the original members of the group since it's inception in 2007.  

One of my fondest memories as a member of the group was from this past winter.  A local music store brought our group in to perform as guest artists and I, of course, invited all of my students.  It was AWESOME to look out into the audience, where I saw the smiling faces of my Let's Play Music students.  They were in awe of the performance.  I could tell they had no idea Miss Darlayne could flip, spin and twirl a pair of cymbals like that and in preparation for this spring's recital asked many times if the recital was going to be just like Miss Darlayne's concert with the drumline.  Getting students and parents excited about not just being a learner or performer of music but also a connoisseur of the art form is one of my goals.

I feel so lucky to have the most rewarding job in the world.  There's nothing more fun than enlightening young minds through music.  Being a Let's Play Music teacher and teaching the Let's Play Music curriculum has not only made me a better musician, but it has also made me a better music teacher in all facets of my career.  

Register for Darlayne's classes in Middleton, WI, HERE.

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