Tag Archives: Musical Instrument Museum

Russian pianist plays Scottsdale

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

Sixth grade students in Nancy Carvone’s music history/piano class at BASIS Scottsdale were treated to a private concert by Russian-born pianist Katya Grineva, who is in town for a concert at the MIM on Saturday at 7pm.

Grineva played Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Chopin and De Falla on a brand new upright Steinway that still had the tags on it. The students listened intently as Grineva played, then asked how long she practiced. Grineva said she practiced eight hours a day when she was a teenager, but now “just” three to five hours each day, depending on how much she was traveling.

Katya Grineva signs autographs at the end of class.

They wanted to know how she played so fast. The answer was the same as the classic “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” where New York-based Grineva has played many times: practice.

Grineva told students how she started playing piano when she was 5 and decided when she was 13 to make it her life. Her family didn’t have much money but when they managed to get a piano her mother said if Katya didn’t practice she would gladly sell it.

Grineva and new fans.

On the way out of class, students asked Grineva to autograph their sheet music, and only as the students were waiting to be dismissed did they ask to have their picture taken with her.

Some students asked their friends to take their picture with Grineva.


Young refugees see the sights in ELL summer school

Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, laughter and fun are the same.

I was reminded of this within the first few minutes of the arrival  of Phoenix Union High School District’s English Language Learners summer school students at the Arizona Science Center. I watched as they pointed and laughed together at a giant telescope on the ceiling over the entrance, with a large eye staring back and shifting about. You wouldn’t guess that most of these kids didn’t know one another, or that many of them weren’t even able to speak to one another. They all had the same expressions of wonder and amusement.

Phoenix Union High School District ELL students played in the stream table in the "Forces of Nature" exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.


The students of Phoenix Union’s ELL summer school are refugees from all over the world, many of them displaced from their home countries, some as recently as a few weeks ago. The students speak more than 20 different languages ranging from Farsi to Swahili to Nepali. All have lived in the U.S. for less than one year, and all are at various levels of proficiency in English, from “pre-emergent” to literate.

The students have been exposed to activities like bead working, making ice cream in a bag, songs, math and other concepts in the classroom, according to Carl Hayden High School ESL department chair Karen Grimwood.

rope maze

Phoenix Union High School District teacher Debbie Kunes, left, explains how the rope maze works to Masoka, from Mozambique, in the MAZES exhibit.

In addition to time spent in the classroom, the 4-week summer school has taken the young students on field trips to see the sights around Phoenix, journeying to a bowling alley, an IMAX movie, the Musical Instrument Museum, the library, Shamrock Farms, the zoo, a candy factory and the State Capitol, to name a few.

At the Science Center, the kids romped upstairs to the third floor, where the MAZES exhibition awaited them. They immediately scattered across the large space, exploring the various maze games in the exhibit.

Zarsanga from Afghanistan enjoyed having a fort of foam blocks built around her in the MAZES exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.

I loved watching how the kids got creative, taking games and activities that were designed to be played one way, and playing them in completely different ways of their own invention. Foam beams meant to be arranged in a maze on the floor became the walls of a fort. Other students competed to see who could balance the beams on their noses the longest.

Yadav from Nepal balances a foam block on his nose in the MAZES exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.

As I observed the students at play, I realized that the exhibit allowed them to explore new concepts without the use of language. They could feel textures, see colors and shapes, follow paths and build structures, all without saying a word. Some of the kids spoke to one another in English, others had made new friends who spoke their native tongues and others weren’t communicating with words at all. Whatever the case, everyone was having fun.

I guess goofing around is a universal language.

marble mazes

A group of students in the ELL class played with the confounding marble labyrinths in the MAZES exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.

When it came time to leave, a boy from Burundi named Edgar, whom I had met playing a rotating maze board and marble game, turned and smiled at me, using one of the phrases he’s come to know well, “Have a good day!”

Story by Sadie Smeck, photos by Daniel Friedman

School tours at the MIM

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix recently launched “A World of Musical Journeys,” a school tour program for grades 4-12 that combines arts education, social studies and science.

The MIM offers three school tour options. Each runs two hours and can be scheduled for Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays at 9:30am or noon.

Compass Guided Tour. A curriculum-based, docent-led tour of 14 different exhibits, highlighting countries and musical cultures. Includes directed, hands-on activities in the MIM’s education classroom. Best for grades 4-12.

Discovery Semi-Guided Tour. A teacher- and chaperone-led tour of student-selected exhibits coupled with docent-led talks and group discussions. Includes directed, hands-on activities in the MIM’s education classroom. Best for grades 4-12.

Trailblazer Self-Guided Tour. A teacher- and chaperone-led expedition-oriented tour through the museum, which includes the opportunity to examine and play various instruments in the MIM’s Experience Gallery. Best for middle school and high school students.

Each tour includes time in all of the MIM’s geographic galleries. Tours must be scheduled at least five weeks in advance and include at least 120 students. Cost is $8/student ($10/student for artist residency programs).

The MIM, which opened April 24, currently exhibits 3,000 instruments and artifacts from its collection of more than 10,000 objects gathered from approximately 200 countries and territories around the globe.

MIM school tours and curriculum materials align with Arizona academic standards.

To learn more, visit the themim.org and click on the “group tours” icon or contact the MIM education manager at education@themim.org.

Target grant funds field trips to the MIM

A grant from Target will enable Valley school children from five districts to experience “A World of Musical Journeys” during field trips to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in North Phoenix.
The school field-trip program will begin during the current (2010-2011) academic year and is expected to bring in more than 5,000 students and teachers from some 167 classrooms in the Alhambra, Roosevelt, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and Deer Valley districts.

“Target has been incredibly helpful to MIM as it has developed,” says MIM president and director Bill DeWalt. “We are pleased that they have made this grant to us to support the visits of so many children who will have the opportunity to listen and experience the music of the world at MIM.”

Tours will be age-appropriate, include specially created curriculum for educators and provide unique offerings such as master classes and artist residency programs for older students. In addition to covering museum admission fees, the Target grant will help to cover transportation costs to and from participating schools and to develop post-visit assessments for teachers, students and participating volunteers to capture information needed to ensure the program continues to meet its objectives.

”We are proud to partner with organizations like MIM to meet the unique needs of our communities by inspiring young minds and offering unique cultural experiences,” says Billy Leist, group director of Target locally. “MIM is a wonderful gift to the world’s cultural community. ”

More than three thousand musical instruments from every country and major territory in the world are on exhibit at MIM. State-of-the-art audio/video technology creates an immersive experience in which museum guests see and hear the instruments being played in their cultures of origin. An on-site, 300-seat music theater further enhances MIM’s mission of fostering greater cross-cultural understanding through a growing appreciation for the world’s rich and varied musical traditions.

As the region’s newest cultural and educational venue, MIM projects that 35 percent of its annual visitation will be comprised of students in grades four through 12. Learn more about the MIM.

Arts education – making do with limited resources

The first statewide Arizona Arts Education Census shows that many Arizona schools have found ways to deliver arts education programs with few dedicated resources.

Results from the statewide research show that nearly 90 percent of Arizona students have access to at least one arts education program. But half of the schools responding to the survey reported no budget for curricular support in arts education — and almost eight out of 10 schools spent less than half a penny a day on arts education.

“The results show a remarkable dichotomy,” says Robert Booker, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “On one hand, we know that there are opportunities for students across the state to access arts education programs, but at the same time limited or no funding exists to support these programs. Some of our Arizona children are attending schools where they receive limited arts education and in some cases they receive none at all.

“One fact is very clear: the arts make a difference. Children receiving art instruction as part of their education have greater success in reading, mathematics, thinking and social skills, and are more likely to stay in school.”

The census, conducted between March 15 and September 15, 2009 by New Jersey-based Quadrant Arts Education Research on behalf of the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, produced responses from 409 charter and district schools representing 236,645 students in every county and school district in the state.

Funding for the census was provided by the Arizona Arts Education Research Institute (AAERI), a partnership of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Department of Education, College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona, College of Arts & Letters at Northern Arizona University and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Additional funding was provided by the Arizona Community Foundation.

Highlights of the census are being released today at the first Joint Arts Education Conference at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Download the full report.

“It is important that the vast majority of Arizona schools are showing that they value arts education by providing access to the arts for their students,” says Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. “The Arizona Department of Education is eager to learn from schools that are providing high quality and rich arts education programs in these tough economic times, and to help schools having difficulty in providing the arts find workable solutions. Arts education is a vital component of a well-rounded education, and one which every Arizona student should have access to.”

Some highlights of the report, which also includes recommendations for parents, educators and students as well as for policy changes and adaptations:

• 87% of students have access to some dance, music, theater or visual arts in their schools.

• 55% of schools provide the required instruction in music and visual arts while 21% reported no arts classes or courses for students.

• 90% of schools with music and 76% with visual art use certified arts specialists.

• 56% of schools have updated curricula reflecting the Arizona Academic Arts Standards.

• Only 39% of high schools weight arts courses equally with other academic subjects and only 12% weight advanced arts courses equally with other advanced academic courses.

• General music and art are most popular in elementary and middle schools, general art and dance most popular in high schools. More high school students are enrolled in dance than in band, orchestra or theater.

• Charter schools are significantly less likely to provide arts courses for students or have highly qualified teachers providing instruction than district schools.

• More than 134,000 students attend schools every day with no access to arts education taught by a highly qualified teacher.

The Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics in Tempe, New School for the Arts and New School for the Arts Middle School in Phoenix, StarShine Academy of Phoenix, Ash Creek Elementary School in Pearce, Center for Educational Excellence in Tempe, and South Mountain High School in Phoenix led the top 10 percent of Arizona schools for arts education based on the Arizona Arts Education Index, which was created using responses to the census.