Michael Kurpjuweit: making music for life

Year: 2019 – Province: Saskatchewan

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Michael Kurpjuweit

Music and band, grades 2 to 8
Brunskill School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

"My child comes home from school greatly valuing the opportunity of being involved in music at Brunskill School. Michael is a big part of a great team at Brunskill that works tirelessly to create a safe, enriching, joy-filled creative fine arts space in the building."  — Parent and university music professor

A talented musician himself, Michael Kurpjuweit—when he's not playing with a local ukulele group—inspires students to continue making music long past their elementary and high school years. Through regular inquiry and reflection, he also seeks to improve his own practice, so he can be a better teacher.

Teaching approach

Michael goes the extra mile to differentiate his instruction so all students can achieve their potential in music and life. He also clearly communicates the purpose behind all his lessons and the performances students take part in to give meaning to whatever students are learning.

In the classroom

  • Improves learning for music students with digital tools: play-along tracks streamed in class help beginning students play better; interactive multimedia, and composition and notation software engage students, reinforce content and skills, and provide additional support for those who need it.
  • Connects music to other areas of the curriculum; grades 3 to 5 students write stories or poems and then play their own ukulele accompaniment with them; grades 4 and 5 students handcraft spirit flutes, learning about the Cree culture and, in science class, about how they produce sound.
  • Ensures instruction always reflects and values diversity, so all students see themselves in the music they learn: for example, performances in December focus on Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa; arranged an interactive African drumming session at school's cultural arts night.
  • Uses extra time in his teaching schedule to work with Grade 8 class on digital literacy, including touch typing, Internet safety strategies, blogging, website writing, coding and robotics.

Outstanding achievements

  • Leads an active extra-curricular program of seven choirs and a jazz band; students practise weekly and perform at events around the city and for local seniors.
  • Has 100 percent attendance in the optional Grade 6 band class, with more than 90 percent of students continuing in the program for grades 7 and 8.
  • Started a community jazz night with a colleague; originally only their two elementary school bands took part; now the night features those groups, along with a high school band, and a university and/or professional ensemble.
  • Coordinates the Saskatoon Music Festival Band week: 3,000 students in more than 100 bands perform and attend workshops with professionals.

Get in touch!
Brunskill School
101 Wiggins Avenue
Saskatoon SK S7N 1K3
Twitter: @brunskillschool

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