Luther College Chips

Music Ed. majors get WILD

Decorah Lutheran Church and Music Ed. partner up for program

Eliot Douma (‘19) and Michaela Gyure (‘19) both participate in WILD at the Decorah Lutheran Church.

Eliot Douma (‘19) and Michaela Gyure (‘19) both participate in WILD at the Decorah Lutheran Church.

Photo courtesy of Eliot Douma (‘19) and Michaela Gyure (‘19)

Photo courtesy of Eliot Douma (‘19) and Michaela Gyure (‘19)

Eliot Douma (‘19) and Michaela Gyure (‘19) both participate in WILD at the Decorah Lutheran Church.

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Every Wednesday morning, the Decorah Community School District has a late start due to an inservice hour for teachers. Luther’s music education program recently turned this late start into an opportunity by starting Wednesday Inservice with Luther students at Decorah Lutheran Church (WILD).

Headed by Assistant Professor of Education and Coordinator for Music Education Jill Wilson and Instructor in Music Linda Martin, WILD started in the fall of 2017 to give Luther students teaching experience while also developing the basic music skills of elementary students.

Each Wednesday, Luther music education majors teach students in third through sixth grade from 8:00-8:50 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. WILD also serves as a practicum for music education students. Luther students receive practical experience while providing elementary students with an outlet for music outside of regular school programs.

“It is really important to place melodies and rhythm at an early age, so that all throughout their lives, they will learn [melodies and rhythm] more easily and it will become a part of them,”  Martin said. “Music needs to be offered as something that is simply fun to do and good for us. It’s good for our bodies and souls.”

Luther students create lesson plans that they bring to life at WILD to give them authentic teaching experiences.

“It’s a great chance for our students to get experience with real life children,” Martin said. “They do peer teaching in class some[times], where they’re teaching each other. But it’s just not the same [as] teaching a group and saying, ‘This is a second grade song and this is a second grade game,’ and these [Luther] students learn it in 30 seconds. It’s really good for them to get out there and see that it is harder for these younger students.”

“It was kind of a music education paradise.

– Eliot Douma (‘19)

Music education major Eliot Douma (‘19) taught during the fall semester with WILD. According to Douma, he learned that there are aspects of teaching that are different than he envisioned.

“Before this experience, I just assumed you have to have the ‘Elmo’s World’ personality working with elementary kids,” Douma said. “You know, it has to be very clean and chipper all the time. I think, if anything, the kids can be in tune to when you are faking it, that’s a really interesting thing. So you can teach the music you’re interested in and you can be yourself. There is room for that.”

Michaela Gyure (‘19) also felt that this teaching experience challenged her expectations.

“It’s so different getting to work with actual elementary school students,” Gyure said. “Because the best lesson plans will go perfectly [in class], and then you try it on actual [elementary] students, and you realize you really need to slow things down. Or, maybe they get it a lot faster than you thought they were going to.”

According to Douma, Decorah values arts and education as a community. This creates a positive environment for music education majors to gain experience in their field.

“Decorah is kind of an unusual place to do music education because this community does value the arts and education a lot,” Douma said. “And then with this program, since it was a before-school, optional thing, you basically got all the kids that really liked music. So it was kind of a music education paradise.”

Martin agrees that WILD has benefitted all involved.

“WILD is a positive connection between the college and community that [is] mutually beneficial,” Martin said. “We need that kind of thing. We need to keep that kind of thing going and give it more of a spotlight.”

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