David Piper is beginning his second year as the music teacher at MLK.
Where did you work before coming to the King?
I worked at two different private Catholic schools in Newton and Roxbury, MA, for three years, and then in my hometown of Foxboro, MA as a high school choir director for four years.
What impresses you about the King?
The diversity. A lot of the time when people say that, they mean that people come from many different places or ethnic backgrounds. That's definitely true at King, but we are diverse in other ways, too. We have people who have lived in Cambridge their whole lives, people who are just stopping though because their parents are involved at one of the universities, people in the arts, people in technology, and people of all different socio-economic backgrounds. I think the city of Cambridge is really invested in all these people, and in getting everyone a great education. Just look at this beautiful new school building we have! It's really a one of kind place.
What is the music curriculum in the district or does it vary from school to school? Is it something that you have created? If so, Please talk a little about it.
15 years ago, one music class in Cambridge received a grant to have music class four times a week. They chose something called the Kodaly methodology, which was developed by the Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly. The main ideas of the pedagogy are to use the singing voice as the main tool for musical learning, and to find playful folk songs to teach musical concepts to children, instead of starting with classical music and an approach that begins with music reading. So, all the schools in Cambridge are using this Kodaly methodology. Seven out of the twelve elementary schools have music three or four times a week. The other schools use that same curriculum, but we adjust for having music once a week. I also really love the ukulele, so I try to find ways to work that in as well!
What are your goals for the King music program moving forward?
I want to get to know more parents. I'm also looking forward to getting to know the students better. I had 370 students this year, so it's hard in the first year to get to know everyone, but the neat part about being a music teacher is getting to be a part of student's lives for several years in a row. I'm really looking forward to that next year.