For the past two years, a group of teachers at Louisa County Middle School have been preparing their intellectual disability class to play and perform alongside the Louisa County Middle School Band.
After much hard work, the group officially performed together for the first time as the “Bobcat Band” on May 22.
The Bobcat Band practiced Frère Jacques, the Star Wars theme song by John Williams and several movement songs.
“Just learning to pat out the beat, some kids were very natural at it and some had to just learn it over and over again,” Donna Oeisterheld, intellectual disability curriculum teacher, said.
For the first six months, band director Kathy Allen sang Frère Jacques in English to the students and taught them the basic beats. Eventually, the students began to sing with her.
“That was her objective,” Oesterheld said. “Most of the first year, she taught that particular song, Frère Jacques, and to learn the down beat. After that, they then started different parts of the song, like “ding dong ding.”
Towards the middle of the year, intellectual disability teacher Jordan Goodwin suggested to Allen that the children should perform Frère Jacques in a concert setting.
“We went to work preparing students for concert situations by learning proper etiquette and preparing to play for an audience,” Allen said.
“As their teacher, I am always proud when I see my students able to step out of their comfort zone and do something new,” Goodwin said. “Performing in front of others was very new for them, but they loved it. I am incredibly proud of the Bobcat Band and very thankful to Mrs. Allen for her work with them.”
Allen looked to the students’ classroom teachers for help.
“It is indescribably delightful to see unbridled excitement and joy as these students experience music in their own unique way,” Allen said.
Throughout the year, Allen taught the students different tempos using other songs the children were taught in class, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
To read the entire story, see the June 11 edition of The Central Virginian.