Kathleen Pemble plays guitar while students join in on the electric keyboard and tambourine.
There is nothing quiet about the weekly sessions taught by Kathleen Pemble at Pines Bridge School.
Students in her music classes shake tambourines, tap on a xylophone and pound on steel drums. And these student musicians beam with smiles as Pemble leads them with her guitar and melodic voice.
The goal, says Pemble, is to "get students and staff to work together to engage in a musical activity -- to keep a steady beat and stay in the right key. And it is not always so easy."
"Music, like a lot activities, has a beginning, middle and end," she says. "I want the sstudents to learn to follow a pattern and just do their best and try something they haven't done before."
Arturo Cruz Avellan of Mt. Vernon raised his hand quickly when Pemble called for a volunteer to play the electronic keyboard. He wanted a jazz sound, and with help, tapped forcefully on C, D and G keys.
The students were playing the tuneful song, "Put the Lime in the Coconut" that made both students and teachers sway to the beat.
"Good job," said Pemble, bringing a big smile to Arturo's face and getting him to press those keys with a little more confidence.
Holding a tambourine Shannel Lewis of Yonkers took a few tries to realize that she could both tap on the drum part and shake the instrument to make the cymbals jingle. And it took restraint on her part to hold still until the sound was needed.
When done with the class, Pemble said. "May I have that back?"
"Uh- Uh," Shannel said clutching it. But then she followed instructions and gently handed it back.
Pemble, a singer-songwriter who has a degree in industrial design, has always been drawn to music. Her mother was a piano teacher and she plays the guitar, piano, bass and ukulele.
But working with students at Pines Bridge is a special passion for her.
"It takes a bit longer to get to know these children and help them to understand that making noise is a good goal. When there is improvement and they like the sound, it is a great experience for all of us," she said. "They are making intentional choices about what they are playing."
Her class is certainly fast-paced as she moves from classroom to classroom in the building. Each session is 30 minutes long with five minutes in between. She rolls into each room pushing a three-tiered cart filled with instruments, tools, pitch pipes and various shaped mallets.
"The students are working on many different skills while engaged in an enjoyable activity. The music program addresses listening and comprehension skills, waiting and turn taking," said special education teacher Judy Gillet.
"The music program," she added, "offers a multisensory learning experience that is so important for students with disabilities. It addresses the tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual systems in the brain. It offers a way of communicating for students who are nonverbal."
A school-based fund-raising effort helps maintain this music program.