About LP Writers
Lesson Plan Writer
Vision and Biography
For my first MusicUnitesUS concert I sat in an auditorium at Waltham High School along with hundreds of ninth grade students and listened to father and daughter Alim and Fargana Qasimov, along with a troupe of musicians, share the hauntingly beautiful music of their home country of Azerbaijan. That afternoon I was moved not only by the opportunity to encounter the work of such gifted artists, but by the chance to see a group of students share in that experience.
My previous work as a social studies teacher in a small middle school in Dorchester, and as a student in Harvard Divinity School’s Program in Religious Studies and Education, has made me a great believer in the power of the arts to spark students’ curiosity and imagination, inspire their empathy, and to reveal new connections and insights into their own identities, as well as the identities of others. Students who are introduced to different forms of artistic expression, as well as the complex cultural contexts in which they are produced, are given opportunities to see connections to their own lives and experiences, at the same time that doors are opened to the unfamiliar.
Students present at Alim and Fargana’s performance listened to a universally poignant refrain expressing the pain one feels when separated from a loved one. They heard the unmistakably inspiring skills of a sixteen year old peer, joyously demonstrating his talents on a traditional drum. These connections forged through art are felt rather than learned. However, I believe they are a powerful way to motivate young people toward learning that will shape them not only as students, but as caring and engaged citizens of the world. For these students the religious and cultural threads that are woven together in the tapestry of Central Asia will never again be an abstract reality, confined to a headline or textbook.
As a lesson plan writer for MusicUnitesUS, I look forward to working with teachers to forge these connections between art, cultural literacy, and historical understanding in ways that are both meaningful to students and of relevance to our increasingly interconnected global community.