UW-Superior Music Department and Superior District Schools collaborate for music experience and education for many

What kinds of meaningful experiences can result when institutions of higher learning and community school districts work together to serve the educational needs of students? Marvelous results on many levels. The Superior Community Youth Choir collaborative project, which operates without funding, is just one excellent example.

University of Wisconsin-Superior students of education and music education and Dr. Lois Guderian, UW-Superior Music Education Coordinator, work in collaboration with Superior District Music Educators to provide a program that benefits 4th and 5th-grade students, UW-Superior pre-service educators and the community. The goal of this program is to provide children with an additional opportunity for music education at their school, and pre-service educators with field experiences in learning how to nurture and develop the singing voice in children.

“The choir is one program of several field programs that are a collaboration between UW-Superior Department of Music Education and Superior District schools. Each program aligns with aspects of the district curriculum and also aligns with the higher education goals and outcomes for educator preparation,” said Guderian, who spearheads the programs and teaches alongside her students and Superior educators. “These programs provide not only children and youth with an increase in opportunity for music education, they provide the higher education students with the opportunity to actually live and apply the very things they are learning in their education courses.”

For the choir program, students from participating elementary schools are provided with an opportunity to be part of a community children’s choir. There is no audition or fee required for participating. All children are encouraged to participate in the choir with excellent behavior, interest and consistency in attendance being the only requirements. The rehearsals are held at their school. Each school group receives one, 30-minute rehearsal per week and combine their efforts for the concerts.

“Everything is for everyone,” said Guderian. “Special programs like this are not just for the talented few who demonstrate that they’re musical – it includes them – but it’s for anyone who has the interest. In varied innate levels, all individuals are born with musical and creative potential. All children need to have opportunities to develop their potential. Musical and creative understandings and skills are learned and developed according to the cultural practices of where an individual is born and lives and the available opportunities for education.”

For purposes of experiential learning in their chosen field, UW-Superior music education and elementary education majors serve as assistants for the choir program.

A unique aspect of the program is the multiage involvement. Each year the students in the choir program perform concerts in December and April. In addition to the number of pieces the children learn and perform on their own, three to four weeks before each concert, older singers – comprised of parents, high school students, community members and UW-Superior students, faculty and staff – partner with the children by learning to sing several pieces written for a combined choir. As in the make-up of the children’s choir, the invitation to be part of the short-term choir is open to all adult community and university singers, older students in grades 6-12, and university students pursuing any degree program.

Superior School District music educators and Guderian work together to coordinate rehearsals and plans and share in the duties required to make such ventures successful. Experiencing the open communication and collaboration between district educators and university educator is another beneficial aspect of the educational experience for the novice educators aspiring to the profession. And, during rehearsals and performances with the children, pre-service educators are provided with opportunities to apply their coursework learnings and develop conducting skills.

The result of the planning and education processes is an increase in learning for everyone involved and a concert that is a celebration of community and youth music education. This concert, titled “The Singing Heart: Expressions of Thanks, Cheer and Life through Song,” will take place on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. at UW-Superior’s Thorpe Langley Auditorium.

Participating Schools in the Superior Community Youth Choir

Cooper Elementary School

Principal: Aaron Lieberz

Mrs. Kristen Wallace, Music Educator

Four Corners Elementary School

Principal: Kim O’Donnell

Kristen Wallace, Music Educator

Great Lakes Elementary School

Principal: Mr. Ryan Haroldson

Mrs. Amy Frane, Music Educator

Northern Lights Elementary School

Principal: Mike Matejka

Darin Bergsven, Music Educator

Partners (for 4K music, General music and Integrated Music Education Projects) Spring 2017

Lake Superior Elementary

Principal: Mr. Mark Howard


Mrs. Terri Harings

Mrs. Heidi Carswell

Great Lakes Elementary School

Principal: Mr. Ryan Haroldson

Mrs. Amy Frane, Music Educator

Fifth Grade Educators: Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Trianoski; Mrs. Beiswenger

Northern Lights Elementary School (4K integrated music and general music spring 2017)

Jennifer Mattson, Music Educator

Melissa Riedasch (4K educator)

Additional Partners

New Horizon Children’s Center (frequent partner several years)

Owner: Ms. Cindy Fennessey; Center Director: Ms. Debbie Dalpiaz

Superior District Early Childhood Coordinator: Mrs. Jennifer Willoughby

Superior District Curriculum Director: Crystal Hintzman

High school students and educators have partnered with the Superior Community Youth Choir and/or UW-Superior Music Education students for the December concerts and on middle school after-school programs.

Music Educators

Rob Calhoon

Joe Kasparek

Amy Eichers

You May Also Like