An Intern's Work

This post is from our wonderful Education Intern, Anna.  Anna will be a junior at Northwestern University this fall, has been working with us for a little over a year, and has been working tirelessly this summer on projects for our education department.  

I guess if I could describe my work, and maybe my life, in one word, I would use flexible. That doesn't mean circus-contortionist flexible; I can hardly touch my toes! I'm talking about having well-rounded and balanced interests which happen to make me useful to groups like Fifth House. At the beginning of the last school year, I somehow juggled 3 majors and a minor, not because I actually could, but because I just liked learning all about different areas! (Its OK, I don't have that many majors anymore.)

When I approached Melissa in May of 2010 and asked if there were openings for interns, I think what I originally meant was "You're pretty! And you play the flute so wonderfully! Can I hear about all of your work and come to performances for free and get you guys coffee and food and water bottles when you need them? And make copies and number measures have a professional connection? Please?" That was what I expected an internship to be, I suppose. Instead, I was considered a valuable source of knowledge and passion by a group that would shape the next year (and beyond) of my learning. I was treated like an equal, and the one time I asked if I could get water bottles, they already had them!

I began with organizational things. I was mostly transferring documents from one online account to the other, getting things ready for the .fifth-house domain. When the school year came around, I started with a flurry of odd jobs : sorting through hard drives for video, showing up to sell things at performances, flyering the campus, and my personal favorite, passing candy out at the Midwest Music Educators Conference. It was that week that I finally got to know all the different members of the ensemble, bond with Jenny, attack innocent band directors with Eric, steal life-size Disney bags with Melissa, etc. There I also got to hear all the players talk about what they were passionate about and how they had seen Fifth-House inspire others. When I left for my winter break I had a renewed excitement about being involved with these amazing people.

Sometime after 2011 started, my role became Educational Intern. Sometimes Crystal and Melissa give me credit for knowing a lot about Music Education just because I'm in the program, which is kind of silly, but I don't mind. What they didn't realize is that by giving me that sort of direction, I started developing my own passion and interest for arts education, and Fifth House became my main outlet for my continuing energy. It triggered with a project involving assessments in residencies. Its much harder to show people the numbers of Fifth House's residencies because music and creativity are rarely about test scores and percentages. So that was my first big, abstract job. And it was hard! I had no idea where to start or what to do! Thankfully, I've been blessed with a Music Ed faculty that Actually deserves all the credit, and they guided me in the right direction.

The same amazing people helped me secure a grant to work a lot of hours for Fifth House, which did nothing but excite me further. I mean, what college student doesn't dream of getting paid to actually do something influential and even *gasp* enjoyable? When June finally came, so did the summer projects. Here's what I've been up to this summer as the "Ed Intern":

1) This coming year we're doing a full out, all year residency as a project with Cambridge Lakes Charter School. Basically, it will be a lasting partnership that helps develop a curriculum that has music (and other arts) incorporated into every subject of every grade. The materials we're providing had to start somewhere! So they started on my googledocs as I went through lesson plan after lesson plan, making any valuable connections and listening to hours of iTunes as I searched for the right music. If you look at some of the resources on our Cambridge Lakes page, you'll get the idea.

2) Cambridge Lakes page?? what?? When did that happen?? If you haven't noticed, the education area of the website has changed a little bit. Actually, it doesn't look much like it did before. I've been on wordpress adventures with Carole and Crystal to help show everyone just how amazing our residencies are. Sometimes getting it to look just right can take me forever, but once its all done, it will be worth it to all the communities that can use us as a model.

Other little things, like going to a professional development workshop and performances, pop up from time to time too. Sounds a little all over the place, right? Time to bring this blog full circle.

Fifth House is not only helping my future by giving me professional contacts and experience in the real world, but they are continually giving me opportunities that keep me well rounded and flexible in the projects I do . I can't say I'll be doing the same kinds of projects for the rest of my life or that I'll never do them again, because my involvement has included all types of knowledge and experience! Hopefully one day I'll be helping a chamber music group or a children's program incorporate all types of art, just like 5HE. One day I'll  need to know how to write blog posts like Carole does, program concerts like Adam does, make kids laugh like Karl does, and inspire others like the whole group does. And maybe one day I'll even have an excited little intern running around to get me Starbucks before presentations. That's what interns are for, right? :)