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Fourth-graders learn about energy transfer through a sound bath

Kelloggsville — “Did you remember to bring your bathing suits?” asked music therapist Jenn Gietzen of the group of the fourth-grade students.

“What?” responded teacher Emily Oppenheizen. “I knew I forgot something: towels and bathing suits.”

But in truth, there was no need for bathing suits for a sound bath, a full-body listening experience where those participating are “bathed” in sound.

Students study energy and sound waves as part of the fourth-grade curriculum. This year, Oppenheizen and fellow teacher Rachel Coon decided to add a different experience to the unit: the opportunity to feel sound waves.

“In class, the students have been talking about energy transfer, so this provided a real world experience of how the sound energy is transferred from the instrument to our ears through the waves, as well as the vibrations the students feel from the sound,” Coon said. 

Gietzen, who owns Monarch Music Therapy, said tones and vibrations help relieve stress and provide a calming atmosphere.

Gietzen started the 90-minute program introducing the various instruments such as a crystal pyramid, buffalo drum, crystal bowls, gong, Himalayan singing bowls and tuning instruments. 

Bathing in the Music 

To help get the “wiggles out,” students danced as they held a large, elastic circle while Oppenheizen reminded them about the types of energy.

As her class raised the circle above their heads, she asked them what type of energy it was.

“Kinetic!” they shouted.

“And what type of energy is it when we lower it to the floor?” Oppenheizen asked.

“Potential,” fourth-graders responded.

Afterward, students did some breathing exercises to calm down, then lay on towels to listen to the sounds Gietzen played. 

As the program concluded, students reflected on what they had pictured in their minds as they listened to the sounds, ranging from sunrises and sunsets to butterflies and watermelon.

Fourth-grader Kinley Woodard-Wade said it was so relaxing that she fell asleep. “But for the program that I was awake for, I did feel the sound waves.”

Read more from Kelloggsville: 
Safe water, a key piece in survival’s puzzle
Learning to be good sports

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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