August 26, 2020

Previous Intensives

Community Schools Research and Practice.  |  Our Lives, Our World. Teaching  and Learning About Human Rights Alongside Youth.   |  Intersections of Our Homes, Schools and Communities (Spring 2022)   |   Intergroup Dialogue on Race and Migration (Fall 2021)     |  MakerBoards: A Return to Play  |   Intersections of Our Homes, Schools and Communities |   French Language Lessons (Spring 2021)|  Legal Challenges: Local Interventions in the Criminal-Legal System  |  Life in a Buddhist Monastery |  Writing Medicine |  Fundamentals of Grant Writing (Fall 2020)  |  Music for Empowerment  | Intergroup Dialogue on Race and Migration. (Spring 2020)| French Language Lessons (Spring 2020) | Fundamentals of Grant Writing (Spring 2020) | Class Without Walls in Nature

[MUSI] 290, Music for Empowerment, Spring 2020

Music For Empowerment Final Meeting, Spring 2020

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Christine Howlett 


THEMATIC CLUSTER: Education/Literacy, Public Art


This community-engaged learning-intensive was developed by Aidan Anderson ’20 as part of his senior thesis in Education. He recruited approximately 6-8 students who were scheduled to teach music in the Poughkeepsie Middle School for 10 weeks. The students started teaching in person until the COVID-19 closures forced them to move online. The students met weekly to discuss teaching plans and observed music teachers in the classroom. The students also got to hear from music educators Matthew Zydel and Melinda Aaron, who came to speak with the students. 


The student approached the OCEL in Fall 2019 and spent the semester laying the groundwork for the intensive in the spring. In conjunction with the instructor of the intensive and his thesis advisor, he developed a curriculum, began to recruit students for the class, and solidified partnerships with the Poughkeepsie Public School District.


Worked with the student to facilitate connections as needed and process any paperwork.


Poughkeepsie Middle School


Semester-long intensive. Students met with the instructor weekly for training sessions in social justice and culturally responsive music education pedagogy. The instructor invited experienced teachers from the school district to provide training on mentorship. Vassar students were to mentor Poughkeepsie Middle School students for 1-2 hours per week. Until COVID-19 brought things to a standstill, students were able to participate in music classes in the school and observe the teachers.  The initial plan was to help the Middle School students prepare a short recital of music that is meaningful to them.

NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 4 (we had more that did not take it for credit for a total of 7)



  • Purchase of books
  • Honoraria for guest speakers
    • Matthew Zydel, conductor of the Cappella Festiva Treble Choir and Elementary Band Teacher in the Spackenkill district
    • Melinda Aaron, a retired music teacher from the Poughkeepsie Middle School, current choir director at the Boys & Girls Club of Poughkeepsie


Students’ Final Presentations

“This was a student-driven intensive. Aidan Andersen, senior education major, developed presentations based on his coursework that were used to drive discussion and activities for the other students. I attended the sessions not as a teacher, but as an advisor and mentor, and offered administrative support and teaching feedback.

The partner organization engaged mainly with Aidan, although I was in touch with them early on in the process. Communication was not easy. With the pandemic, the VC students didn’t get a chance to do much teaching. I think one or two of the students were able to offer one lesson, but then everything shut down.” 

  • Professor Christine Howlett

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