A MIM field trip brought music to life for Canadian students

Over the years, MIM has hosted hundreds of international field trip participants, including student groups from Asia, Europe, and South America. Earlier this year, MIM hosted Adina Priel and her students from Ark Elementary School in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for a field trip that included MIM’s STEM: How Science Brings Music to Life Guided Tour.

Priel has taken her students on a variety of field trips, but having experienced MIM’s scale, diverse exhibits, and world-class collection, she knew that the museum would fascinate and engage them. She was also impressed by MIM’s highly organized and responsive team.

Students peer at the 3-D Orchestra exhibit in MIM’s Europe Gallery.

“I have not seen very many museums or experiences that were as well prepared for the visit of children,” Priel says, “and it is rare to see such a beautifully collected and presented museum of artifacts that could engage children on many levels.”

The connections that Priel’s students made between geographical regions and musical expression tied into their extensive geography studies. Priel’s students were also blown away by MIM’s Experience Gallery, as they had a chance to play culturally important instruments—such as the West African ngoni spike lute and djembe drum, plus instruments from the Indonesian gamelan orchestra—like the ones on display in the museum.

“How can children learn about other cultures without directly singing, touching, listening, and feeling the objects that deliver the lesson itself?” she asks.

Educators visiting MIM can select from seven field trips, each with activities and content appropriate for students at various ages and grade levels. Students on guided field trips are led through the galleries by volunteer museum guides, who ask questions and encourage discussion before giving students time to explore exhibits on their own. Priel’s tour was led by volunteer museum guide Chris O’Brien, who made stops at the Mali, Burkina Faso, Amplified Guitars, Electric Guitars, and Clara Rockmore exhibits.

“All the students were engaged, inquisitive, respectful, and kind throughout the tour,” O’Brien says. “At the end of the tour, the students and teacher performed a thank-you song that was sincere and powerful. This included animated hand gestures and ended in a deep bow. It was lovely.”

Students from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada’s Ark Elementary School visited MIM earlier this year.


Museum Guide Spotlight: Chris O’Brien

Like all MIM’s volunteer museum guides are trained to do, Chris O’Brien ensures that each field trip relates to the students’ grade level, interests, and knowledge. And, when possible, he directs students to countries they have a personal connection with.

“Some of the most valuable parts of MIM field trips are giving students the opportunity to view videos of people making music in their local settings and engage in the exhibits with their classmates and a knowledgeable museum guide,” Chris says. “Students gain a deeper appreciation of the different music, instruments, and cultures of the world.”

Chris has been active at MIM for many years. He has been volunteering since 2018 and once worked on the education team. He loves sharing his passion for MIM with others.

Big thank you, Chris! This was the best museum visit our school has had in 25 years—and we do about 12 field experiences each year!

—Adina Priel, Ark Elementary School, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Volunteer team member Chris O’Brien