PICTURED ABOVE: Andrew Penny teaches his students about Ave Maria. // Photo by Eugene Seong
A melody fills the History of Art and Music classroom. Students wonder and giggle, trying to find out if this song is either pavane, a slow dance, or galliard, a fact-paced dance. As the music stops, the new History of Art and Music teacher Andrew Penney reveals the answer and some students cheer while others shake their head.
The history department welcomed Penney as its newest member to co-teach the History of Art and Music class alongside Ed Long, Nancy Penn Penson ‘41 & John G Penson Distinguished Teacher in Fine Arts and Dean of Upper School, who is expected to retire at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
The history of the HAM class can be traced back to 1971. Long, who taught HAM in his previous school, Brownell-Talbot School in Omaha, Nebraska, combined World Cultural History and History of Art and Music into one curriculum. In 1974, HAM became a required Hockaday course for all Upper School students.
In preparation for Long’s retirement at the end of this year and his involvement with the planning of ISAS, Long needed someone to co-teach the class with him.
While this is Penney’s first time teaching regularly in a school, his experience with playing trumpet for 15 years and his work on earning his master’s degree in History of Music and Literature as well as Trumpet Performance at Southern Methodist University proved himself to be an ideal candidate for this job. Penney’s growing interest in history also made him choose the History of Music and Literature as a second major.
“I find him very congenial, fun and we teach music together. We share a lot of similarities, so it’s fun just to talk to him,” Long said.
This year, HAM is divided into two sections: art and music. Long teaches art for one quarter during A period, while Penney teaches music during C period. Next quarter they will switch, with Long teaching art C period and Penney teaching music A period.
HAM will also run in a similar format next year, as it will be taught by two teachers and divided into the two sections of art and music.
Penney liked the opportunity to teach music history as the History of Art and Music is not a typical class taught at most high schools.
“I can’t wait to teach the romantic period in music. The romantic period has many of my favorite composers,” Penney said. “I am very excited to be able to share them with the class and see the reactions.”
Penney’s class is heavily based on student interactions with the teacher. He frequently engages in discussions with students about the material he provides and also uses interactive tools such as videos, slideshows and Socrative, a program that includes various activities, games and quizzes to promote classroom engagement.
Sophomore Velayzia Standifer said that Penney has especially bonded with his students, even remembering a time when Penney used the term ‘lit’ in front of the class.
“I fear being not as thoughtful as I should’ve been preparing the class and leaving them bored or only worried about their grades,” Penney said. “I rather [would like] them to be focused on how cool the material is.”
To watch “40 Questions with Mr. Penney,” click here.
Eugene Seong – Staff Writer