February 2, 2012

CIM Distance Learning Program Launches New Apprentice Program

The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) has launched a new Apprentice Program as part of its Distance Learning department. The purpose of the program is to teach CIM students the basics of teaching and how to actively engage with audiences, focusing primarily on educational programming for K-12 students.

The Distance Learning department at CIM provides music instruction without boundaries, utilizing videoconference technology to transmit educational classes with a musical component to K-12 classrooms, both nationally and internationally. These courses are taught by CIM staff and faculty members, and feature CIM student performers. The new Apprentice Program aims to improve and expand on that premise. CIM’s Distance Learning programming is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Key Foundation. A portion of that funding was used to develop the Apprentice Program.

“When you look at truly successful professional musicians, they all engage in some form of teaching” explained CIM Distance Learning Education Coordinator Heather Young Mandujano, who developed the Apprentice Program. “Whether it’s regular teaching in a studio, or the occasional master class or clinic, most professionals teach. Forty members of The Cleveland Orchestra teach right here at CIM. This is a clear indicator that teaching skills are a vital component to well-rounded musicianship.”

Essentially, Mrs. Mandujano developed the Apprentice Program to teach CIM students how to teach and engage their audiences while simultaneously improving the Distance Learning program and supporting the community.

“The performance portion of our K-12 program is always fantastic, but we wanted to add an educational component to it. Too often, our students would perform beautifully but struggle to make their performance relevant to the far end audience and effectively answer their questions,” she explained. “My goal is to make our programming more interactive for our audiences, while giving our students real professional teaching skills.”

In the fall, she recruited seven CIM students to pilot the Apprentice Program. As part of their training, the seven future apprentices attended three sessions with Mrs. Mandujano where they learned how to write lesson plans, relate to audiences of various ages and make their lessons engaging and interactive for audiences. In addition to these sessions, trainees completed homework assignments, group work and hands on activities to prepare them for their K-12 presentations to real students ‘on the far end’ - the schools on the other end of the videoconference.

After several successful presentations by the apprentices in the fall, Mrs. Mandujano expanded the program – selecting 17 student trainees for the Apprentice Program this spring.

“This program gives the Distance Learning department the ability to utilize its best resources – passionate, talented CIM students. We’ve been able to harness their knowledge. All they needed was the confidence and tools to teach and engage others,” said Greg Howe, director of the department.

Mr. Howe said his department was eager to participate in the institution-wide focus on community impact this year. Although the programs put on by his department are often streamed to rural communities that lack music programs, the Apprentices teaching the programs currently gig in the Cleveland area as well.

“When they go out to do their community outreach presentations locally, they’ll have an increased social comfort level, as well as tools of engagement,” he explained. Providing students with these tools is essential to growing the future of classical music, and making it accessible to all.

The Apprentice Program is not offered for course credit, it’s something students elect to do on their own. “We had so many applicants that we had to do interviews to narrow it down,” Mrs. Mandujano said. “They do get paid when they perform during Distance Learning classes, but the majority of the students who signed up did it simply to improve their public speaking and teaching abilities. They have a genuine desire to communicate and teach others about their passion. Many of them would do it for free!”

“I decided to participate in Distance Learning's apprentice program because I would like to be a teacher in the future. The program gave me an Education 101, prepping me with the basics of how to teach children,” said harpist Joseph Rebman. “After taking the program, I feel much more capable of providing a quality music education to any harp students I will have in the future.

Rebman, who is enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program as a student of Yolanda Kondonassis, said the program gave him insight into his own education, but from his teacher’s point of view.

“Many musicians encourage performers to study at least a little composition, to better understand the music they perform from another perspective. I think this applies to being a student as well. By having a better understanding of how my professors do their work as teachers, I can better do my job as a learner.”

More information on the Distance Learning program