Teaching the Teacher: A story of music, art, and friendship

submitted by Kath Pengelly, volunteer coordinator, Lifeworks Services 

A huge thank you goes to Jenifer Berndt, from Lifeworks Eagan for introducing us to her friend, extended family member, and general all around great guy, Dane Smith. 

Dane is a Music Education student at the University of Minnesota and just about to embark on his final adventure as an education major – student teaching. One of his last classroom requirements was to spend time working with people with disabilities so that he will enter the work force with some knowledge and experience about different student populations. 

Dane Smith with Lifeworks Eagan staff Jenifer Berndt

Dane Smith with Lifeworks Eagan staff Jenifer Berndt

Dane agreed to practice with Glen, a member of the Lifeworks band, Musical Syndrome, once a week for six weeks to help Glen improve his bass playing skills. 

I asked Dane to talk about his experience with us. He said it was very positive, he really looked forward to coming each week, he especially enjoyed working one -on-one with someone. First of all because this was new for Dane, spending one to one time with Glen helped build his confidence as a k-12 Music Educator, and secondly because Glen plays the bass and Dane’s instrument of choice is the euphonium. Dane also went on to say that coming to Lifeworks was, “cool” because at first Glen was really shy but the more time they spent together Glen began to feel comfortable and show what he is all about. Dane said that Glen especially came alive when they made time to do improve with their instruments. 

A big lesson learned by Dane was that as a student teacher he has an inclination to depend on his student’s facial acknowledgement. Because Glen maintains a thinking face Dane wasn’t sure at first Glen was enjoying their lesson but as the weeks passed, Glen definitely let Dane know time together was fun. 

I also asked Dane what his greatest surprise about being with people with disabilities was and he told me that he had not realized that there is a true and talented art community among the disability population.

Dane will be busy these next six months learning the ins and outs of his students at Eagan High School and Chelsey Heights Elementary but he says that he will be back in the summer to spend more time with us. 

Have you ever heard of the idea, pay it forward? Jenifer Berndt introduced Dane to Lifeworks, Dane took it one step further and introduced me to his instructor at the U of MN, Kathleen Seifert, who has promised us more students. You just never know who is out there waiting to hear our story and help. 

Good luck to Dane as he begins this next chapter in his life journey to becoming a music educator. I know he will do well. Anyone who has carried a seven pound euphonium and marched in all kinds of weather for the U of MN Golden Gopher Marching Band has that can do spirit a teacher needs for success. I know Glen says thank you too.

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Filed under Client Stories, Music Therapy, Volunteers

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