Danette Dickinson, B.Mus., B.Mus.Ed., ARCT, OCT

Danette Dickinson is a classical pianist. She came to love music as a child, through her interest in and study of piano. She studied piano performance and music education at Memorial University and is now a primary and junior music specialist atThe Bishop Strachan School for classroom, choral and instrumental programs. She is also studying toward a Master of Education degree in Language, Culture and Teaching at York University.

I was first introduced to Danette's work with pedagogical documentation in a presentation at Charles Sturt University in Burlington. She and her colleague Susan Hislop spoke about an article that they had written, "The Way the Words Go: An Emergent Approach to Music Curriculum" where they told of their collaborative relationship as they studied and responded to the Grade 1 children's translations of musical and mathematical understandings in graphic and other languages over the course of several months. Danette's music background and Susan's mathematics background were highly complimentary in this study. They found the children to be using both music and mathematics to alternatively energize and lead their explorations and understandings.

Photo by Danette Dickinson

Photo by Danette Dickinson

Danette's perspective of the children's transmediations between materials was very interesting. In particular, she shared the ways in which the children had recorded their music graphically and she had been able to liken their work to historical samples of music notation. In one instance, instead of using a conventional staff and notes being read from left to right, the musical notation was created with popsicle sticks and wound around like a snail or a spiral. Danette recognized that this work was reminiscent of the work of the American composer, George Crumb, who wrote scores in novel formations.

Danette's insights remind me of how important it is to approach children's work with a multiplicity of perspectives to more fully recognize potential connections they might be making to cultural and historically significant understandings of the world. It is very encouraging to hear the ways in which Danette is working with pedagogical documentation to become aware and make visible the connectivity and construction of children's thinking and understandings in the beautiful field of music.

Photo by Danette Dickinson

Photo by Danette Dickinson

Thank you Danette for your important work.

The Bishop Strachan School (BSS)

Ontario Reggio Association (ORA)


Dickinson, D., & Hislop, S. (2011). The way the words go: An emergent approach to music curriculum. Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, 18(4), 6-14.

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