SIUE East St. Louis Center Students Learn the Basics – Musically
While these young musicians have played on a stage for a little while, it was only recently that they first began learning about an A flat, a perfect fourth and a diminished third. The Theory of Music, taught by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Mary Jo Pembrook, is expected to help the students perform well during their pursuit of musical studies.
“My part is to teach the basic fundamentals of music,” said Pembrook, music teacher with the SIUE East St. Louis Center for Performing Arts program.
Pembrook began teaching music theory at the ESLC on Feb. 6, and the class will conclude May 24. Pembrook teaches a one-hour course and her instruction is followed by a one-hour guitar class, taught by SIUE graduate student Tyler Elder.
“The two-pronged approach to teaching music is so our students can be ready for SIUE’s Music Theory I course,” Pembrook said. “Schools expect students to come in knowing the fundamentals of music theory, because there is so much music theory to teach, they don’t have time to teach the basics.
“In my class, they are learning how music and chords are put together, and about the structure of music,” she added. “This will also be helpful in analyzing and writing music.”
Greg Sallie, a 2015 graduate of the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School (CHS), is taking Pembrook’s class. “I plan to go to SIUE in the fall and get a degree in jazz performance,” he said. “I want to be a professional musician and recording artist.” Currently, Sallie is a musician for two churches in East St. Louis and plays at various venues throughout the community.
Esau Toombs, a 2016 CHS graduate, plans to attend SIUE in the fall and major in music education. “This class is teaching me the basic fundamentals of music,” he said. “When I start college, I will have a strong musical foundation.”
“Mary Jo is a great teacher. She makes the material easy to understand,” said Christopher Hodges, a CHS junior and rap lyricist.
The College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Targeted Funding Initiative (TFI) made the course possible. CAS received funding from the 2017 winter session revenues and earmarked this money, along with additional funding, for faculty and staff proposals for TFI. For 2017, a total of $200,000 in TFI funding was distributed. CAS Dean Greg Budzban identified the SIUE East St. Louis Center as one of four TFI categories.
“We see this initiative as a win on so many levels for SIUE,” said ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon. “SIUE music students get more prepared for the rigorous music theory courses. East St. Louis Center performing arts students get to learn music from exceptionally skillful near-peer musicians, and Charter School students are able to experience college-level music theory coursework, alongside SIUE college students.
The course was made possible by the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Targeted Funding Initiative (TFI). CAS received funding from the 2017 winter session revenues and earmarked this money, along with additional funding, for faculty and staff proposals for TFI. For 2017, a total of $200,000 was in TFI funding was distributed. The SIUE East St. Louis Center was one of four TFI categories, identified by CAS Dean Greg Budzban.
“We see this initiative as a win on so many levels for SIUE,” said ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon. SIUE music students get more prepared for the rigorous music theory courses; East St. Louis Center performing arts students get to learn music from exceptionally skillful near-peer musicians; and Charter School students are able to experience college-level music theory coursework, alongside SIUE college students.
“This grant from the SIUE College of Art and Sciences has catalyzed a remarkable partnership that we hope to sustain in the coming years.”
Central to SIUE’s exceptional and comprehensive education, the College of Arts and Sciences has 19 departments and 85 areas of study. More than 300 full-time faculty/instructors deliver classes to more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty help students explore diverse ideas and experiences, while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of the global community. Study abroad, service-learning, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities better prepare SIUE students not only to succeed in our region's workplaces, but also to become valuable leaders who make important contributions to our communities.
With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals - from pre-school through adult - in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals. The Center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The Center provides comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.
Students Christopher Hodges (left) and Esau Toombs listen to an explanation from Mary Jo Pembrook, Music Theory instructor.
Pembrook demonstrates her point on the piano as Christopher Hodges gives a listening ear.
Student Greg Sallie (left) gets an answer to his question from Pembrook.