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Featured Teacher: How Professor Grant Transforms the Way Millennial Students Study Music with Powtoon

Music is the language of the soul. It has the ability to intensify emotions, calm, inspire, motivate… and get your booty shakin’! And, it also happens to be one of the more ​ ‘fun’ subjects to both learn and teach in school. However, although music class is usually considered more enjoyable (as compared to the core STEM subjects), teaching ​ ‘the Arts’ poses its own unique challenges.

Prof Manhart and his music classOne major challenge lies in the fact that music, as a whole, is abstract, so it can be difficult (and very tricky) to come up with effective lesson plans. This is true when teaching students of all ages; elementary school up to high school. But, it poses a special challenge for music educators who have been assigned a class full of (scary drumroll, please…) millennials!

Fortunately for the students of Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Professor Grant Manhart has got Music Appreciation covered! (Not to mention, courses in High Brass, Jazz, and Online Music.)

A little about Professor Manhart…

Grant Manhart is no stranger to taking risks, both ​ inside and outside the classroom. He is an acclaimed jazz trumpeter who has performed in a band (the Buddy Rich Band), played on Broadway, and toured extensively prior to becoming an academic. So, it only makes sense that this talented musician, and father of four, would find a way to add a little spice, and technology, to his classroom!

According to the research,

Students of the Hondsrug college use iPa“Millennials have grown up being able to Google anything they want to know, therefore they do not typically value information for information’s sake. As a result, the professor’s role is shifting from disseminating information to helping students apply the information….Interestingly, many of the components of their ideal learning environment; less lecture, use of multimedia, collaborating with peers …has shown to be effective.”

And nobody understands this better than Professor Manhart. His​ explorations into the online teaching and learning world, especially in the areas of music appreciation, has helped his millennial students succeed in a rapidly changing world.

“Over the past 8 years or so, I watched conventional teaching methodologies slowly start to fail on millennial students in my “Gen-Ed” Music Appreciation class at a small Midwestern, largely rural university..…..the students were so different from what I was prepared to teach! My colleagues found this as well and were very frustrated.

I began writing stories which were in many ways parallels or allegories of problems my students faced…..I realized that if I could change their outlook, I would have in some small way, changed a life.

Then I found PowToon!

PowToon allows me to deliver deep, impactful points which I am unable to achieve ​ in any other format in the classroom or online.”

Music and PowtoonFor example, one of the Powtoons that Manhart created, demonstrates how successful people use classical music as part of a creative, directed life! (Check out 11 more ways to use PowToon in the classroom).

“I found that by using the expressive, subtle (or not so subtle) and suggestive mechanisms in the PowToon universe, I can bring my stories and allegories to life in a 5 minute “safehouse” of interaction (“hey, it’s​ just​ a cartoon!”) ​ The student can identify freely, consciously or subconsciously, and insert themselves into various characters and situations, ​ so that​ change is awakened within them.

Awakening change; that is the new teaching paradigm.”

What Piece of Advice would you give to other millennial Music Educators out there?

“I urge anyone struggling in lecturing to millennials to take a moment and challenge yourself to create a ​ ‘toon about what bugs you the most…frustration is a tremendous motivator!

Good luck, take risks! (Hey, you can always hit delete and start again)!”

What do you think of the music soundtracks on PowToon?

“The music PowToon provides is great for me… for now, I would like to get into recording tracks, and capturing other pertinent music as I get into this. But the focus is the message, the music is the wallpaper, the furniture in the room. ​ Wonder if my students and I could record tracks for PT to use!?”

Well, Grant, you don’t have to say it more than once! We’d love to see a recording from Professor Grant and his South Dakotan student orchestra!

Thank you so much for sharing your insights as a music (plus) educator, as well as your experiences using PowToon in the classroom! Stay Awesome and continue awakening change in your students.

If you’d like to be a ​ ‘Featured Teacher’ or know of any outstanding teachers that are rockin’ the classroom, please write to us GreatestTeacher@powtoon.com.

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