Music, Community, and the Mishkan

Music, Community, and the Mishkan

The Garnim kiddos (Pre-K and Kindergarten), explored text surrounding the building of the mishkan in a musical context. The kids understood the story of building the mishkan as one where many parts came together to build one whole structure. The text of Exodus has helped us understand how every member of Bnei Yisrael contributed to the building of the mishkan by collecting and donating what they could. This helped us realize the value and impact of creating something with your community so we set out to do just that. Using tenants of Kehillah, or community, the kids set out to work on a song together. As one student stated, a “community is like a big heart with everyone in it.” 

Using music production software Ableton and a MIDI keyboard that plugs-in via USB, each Garinim student contributed several elements to our song. Any song requires bringing different parts (lyrics, instrumentation, percussion, and so forth) to work together to create a cohesive sound. At the end of the week, the kids worked together to decide what parts to remove, rearrange, or make louder or softer, culminating in the final product. The entire class celebrated everyone’s contributions and worked towards a common goal to create a song about Makom welcoming aliens from outer space. 

As a professional actively pursuing a career in music in Philadelphia, it was a pleasure to share my passion for creating music with the Garinim kids. While I’ve spent many hours creating music with my own band, getting to witness and share the process and value of creating a song with Pre K and Kindergarten students has informed my own song-writing process going forward. I aimed to convey the joy of the production process to them and the necessity of creating from the heart, both of which are far more important than the end result.

Additionally, using Ableton and a MIDI keyboard also affords kids who do not play an instrument an opportunity to have access to any sound of their choosing with little learning curve. Music is a universal language based in feeling that has the potential to meet the needs of every type of learner. Through this lesson, I had hoped they would come to understand how parts contributed by different people, or different instruments, are all integral to a final product. Both creating and listening to music is a communal act that speaks to the values of Makom Community as well as aids in building community in our classroom. Just like Bnei Yisrael coming together to create the mishkan, we came together to build our community through joy and music-making.

When I was a student, music was the most valuable thing passed down to me, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position to continue that as a teacher now. After this experience, I intend to utilize music as a modality in our classroom both as a vehicle for learning, but also as a creative outlet for my learners. They have reminded me regularly of how much they’ve enjoyed getting to create music together and this merely affirms my passion for this craft.

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