Walking into Mr. Junsay’s music classroom is like walking into a magical theatre. The lights are dim and colored spotlights make the classroom come alive. There is a six foot tall knight in full suit of armor to greet students and the white board is set to the theme of The Wizard of Oz. Keyboards, a drum set, and microphones in the music room allow students to showcase their talents once a month during a mini talent show. Students in preschool through grade 4 attend music with Mr. Junsay once a week for 85 minutes and three times a week in grade 5. Music class with Mr. Junsay is an experience primary school students will always remember.
Not only does Mr. Junsay keep his students on their toes, but he also decorates our campus and Great Hall with a theme every month. The theme is always centered on the holiday of the current month or season. This year, Mr. Junsay built a paper waterfall to announce spring and installed a giant wreath to celebrate the December holidays. To ring in St. Patrick's Day, Mr. Junsay turned our Head of School into a leprechaun. Mr. Junsay brings much life to our campus and we are lucky to have him as a founding faculty member of BASIS Independent McLean.
This week we spoke with Mr. Junsay to learn more about how he makes his classroom come alive.
Where does your passion for music stem from?
I am the grandson of a music teacher who taught in Monterrey, California for 40 years, where I grew up. My aunt and uncle were also music teachers, so I was surrounded by music growing up. I’ve known since high school that I wanted to be a music teacher and I truly love teaching. I love helping people understand how logical and enjoyable music can be.
What instruments can you play?
I play all styles of flute, clarinet, and saxophone, percussion, and of course the keyboard. Although it was difficult, I learned to play the clarinet in the 4th grade. In middle school I picked up the bass clarinet, which became my main instrument.
What is your favorite aspect of the music program at BASIS Independent McLean?
BASIS Independent Mclean gave me a perimeter with which to work. I looked at the expectations within that framework and raised the bar. I take early college level concepts and break them down for younger students. I combine the concepts with fun activities, hands on learning, and cross-curricular work. I use Math, Science, Language Arts, and Visual Arts to help students realize how much music is around them all the time.
What makes our program different from ones you have seen?
Growing up I always loved music, but it was a concept that was really hard for me to grasp in school. When I was a student, I was given an instrument and was told to play it without truly understanding music. I really didn’t learn how to read music until I graduated from high school. As a teacher, I have figured out a way for everyone to enjoy learning music. I want students to learn how to play at an early college level by the time they are in 5th grade. We understand how to compose music and perform it. When our students compose and perform their music, we make it a community effort.
What do you enjoy most about working at BASIS Independent McLean?
This is hard to answer because it is truly a dream here. I have so much freedom in terms of what I can do with our primary school music program. I know how much I can personally grow as a teacher in this learning environment. The freedom I have to build out the BASIS Curriculum framework is so beneficial to my students’ learning. I am lucky to be a part of this growing school community.
BASIS Independent McLean is a preschool-12th grade private school located in Tysons. To learn more about our acclaimed liberal arts and science program, please register for an upcoming informational event. We are currently accepting applications for the 2017-18 school year on a rolling basis (Rolling Admissions).
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