"I believe music and movement are connected in a very powerful way," said Phillips, a music teacher to all grades at Mitchell. "I really have experimented over the last few years, especially with trying to get kids up and moving."
The kids aren't the only ones moving and performing. His other students are actually adults and full-time members of the 101st Army Band of the Colorado Army National Guard. The man usually known as Mr. Phillips changes his title to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rob Phillips, who takes command of 48 citizen soldiers. For his dedication of music to many students, Mr. Phillips has been awarded as the March 2010 9Teacher Who Cares.
"I really get more out of it than what I put in," Phillips said. "When we go and do musical performances, one of the things that's very traditional for us is to have a point in our program where we have veterans stand up during the playing of their service song. And I turn around, and as the conductor and commander I have the opportunity to salute them as a way of acknowledging them and thanking them for their service."
When it comes to his other title, 'Mr.' Phillips engages his students with physical movement, such as clapping, stretching, chanting and singing. All of his lessons have a different rhythm, keeping students on their toes while making music class about more than simply listening and then singing back to the teacher.
"I distinctly remember not enjoying music when I was in elementary school," Phillips said. "I thought, whatever I do [when I teach music], I am not going to have kids dislike being in music class. I'm going to find some way to share the joy of music with every student if I can."
Part of that lesson plan is also involving students in the traditionally college level lesson of analyzing classical music. Mr. Phillips will play a song for the class, watching as they observe different rhythms and instruments within the piece. Then, Mr. Phillips asks students what they heard within the music, such as instruments that sound unfamiliar as well as the general mood.
"I get to do a job that I absolutely love to do. I look forward to it every day I come in. I want them to come out of music class loving music," Phillips said.
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