Monthly Archives: April 2016

20160427_185724

Flexible Musician

How do you deal with different levels of musicians within an ensemble?

Every ensemble is going to have a gap in the experience and abilities of the members, and as a director it is your job to be able to deal with that.  Green said that “Having clear focus and discipline is essential” (Green, 2003, p. 68), and this is applicable to both the students and the director because they have to work together to make the progress that they need.  Students often are not able to bridge the gaps between them on their own, so it is best to be able to address these issues in a large ensemble setting and give them the tools to be able to work on the gaps.  Ways to do this are to get different types and levels of repertoire, enough to challenge the students with lower abilities but also at a good level for the students with higher abilities.  Having a balance with the repertoire is important because it shows the students that you care about them building their skills, and also shows that you are helping them get the most out of their musical experience. Ayers said that “The root word of “evaluation” is “value,” and authentic assessment includes understanding what students value and building from there” (Ayers & Alexander-Tanner, 2010, p. 81), and I think that this ties in with different levels of musicians because you are helping them build a balance between their music and their skills.

Innovative Practitioner

How do you incorporate theory into ensemble classes and also show students the benefit of it?

In order to successfully incorporate theory into an ensemble setting, the students must be taught the very basics from the beginning.  This can be done in the first few minutes of class every day, for repetition, and should be applied to repertoire as much as possible.  Once the students begin to recognize and understand the basics in the context of the repertoire then you can move onto things that are slightly more complicated.  In a study, “Eleven participants described progressing methodically from simple to complex in classroom instruction” (Paney & Buoniviri, 2013, p. 407) when teaching melodic dictation to their AP Music Theory classes, and this approach can be applied to any teaching of music theory.  This approach would work well with the basics, especially when put into certain contexts, because it worked well when teaching students to listen to and dictate both rhythms and notes, and even at a complex level, when they had little to no experience.  Approaching theory like this, or any music in general, and putting it into a context is when students will begin to comprehend, and see the importance in what they are learning.  Being able to understand the mechanics behind music will make them better musicians, because they will be doing more than just playing the notes on their page, they will be actively engaged and finding exactly how they and their part fit into and function as part of the whole ensemble.

Inquisitive Thinker

How do I know that I am teaching well? That I am comfortable with the way that I teach?

I think that at some point every teacher will begin to question whether they are doing things the right way, and they need to be able to think objectively about what they are doing in order to evaluate themselves.  It is important to look at both the teacher and the students.  One thing that might get in the way is a teacher’s unwillingness to change simply because they themselves are comfortable the way things are, even if the students are not.  Teachers need to be able to think critically about themselves, and this can be done by first observing others teach.  In a study, undergraduate students began teaching and “soon found themselves not only observing other teachers but critically analyzing the teaching methods and outcomes they observed in order to assess what strategies were effective and what teacher actions they may later integrate into their teaching” (Haston & Russell, 2011, p. 386).  This is something that every teacher should do, because by observing others objectively and then turning around and doing the same thing to yourself you can begin to see what direction you want to go from there.  Another way to evaluate your own teaching style is to simply look at the students and see how they react to your teaching style, see how much progress they have achieved since you started teaching them.  This can be done after observing other teachers and their students, and compare the way their students react versus your own.

Community Leader

How do you keep students motivated when music gets more difficult and they might feel discouraged?

Barry Green (2003) said that “Music is one of the most powerful sources of truth that we have: it has the power to change lives” (p. 271) and this is something that teachers and students need to remind themselves of when things get hard.  When students are struggling with something, it is important that both the student and the teacher take the time to address the problem and approach it carefully.  There are people that shut down when they don’t understand something or begin to have problems, and teachers have to be able to deal with them.  Sometimes it is as simple as slowing things down in ensemble rehearsal, not singling anyone out, but working things out as a group in the hopes that the student will catch on or those around them will help.  Sometimes students require more focused or individual attention, like working with a particular section or pulling them to the side and focusing solely on them until they start making progress.  When I have problems, I simply remind myself that “All musicians have bad days” (Green, 2003, p. 275) and that because music is so important I should work hard to keep it a part of me, and this is something to remind students of.

References

Ayers, W., & Alexander-Tanner, R. (2010). To teach: The journey, in comics. New York: Teachers College Press.

Green, B. (2003). The mastery of music: Ten pathways to true artistry. New York: Broadway Books.

Haston, W., & Russell, J. A. (2011). Turning Into Teachers: Influences of Authentic Context

Learning Experiences on Occupational Identity Development of Preservice Music Teachers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59(4), 369-392. doi:10.1177/0022429411414716

Paney, A. S., & Buonviri, N. O. (2013). Teaching Melodic Dictation in Advanced Placement Music

Theory. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(4), 396-414. doi:10.1177/0022429413508411

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Final Paper and Poster

20160427_185724Final Paper (Intro)

Flexible Musician

How do you deal with different levels of musicians within an ensemble?

Every ensemble is going to have a gap in the experience and abilities of the members, and as a director it is your job to be able to deal with that.  Green said that “Having clear focus and discipline is essential” (Green, 2003, p. 68), and this is applicable to both the students and the director because they have to work together to make the progress that they need.  Students often are not able to bridge the gaps between them on their own, so it is best to be able to address these issues in a large ensemble setting and give them the tools to be able to work on the gaps.  Ways to do this are to get different types and levels of repertoire, enough to challenge the students with lower abilities but also at a good level for the students with higher abilities.  Having a balance with the repertoire is important because it shows the students that you care about them building their skills, and also shows that you are helping them get the most out of their musical experience. Ayers said that “The root word of “evaluation” is “value,” and authentic assessment includes understanding what students value and building from there” (Ayers & Alexander-Tanner, 2010, p. 81), and I think that this ties in with different levels of musicians because you are helping them build a balance between their music and their skills.

Innovative Practitioner

How do you incorporate theory into ensemble classes and also show students the benefit of it?

In order to successfully incorporate theory into an ensemble setting, the students must be taught the very basics from the beginning.  This can be done in the first few minutes of class every day, for repetition, and should be applied to repertoire as much as possible.  Once the students begin to recognize and understand the basics in the context of the repertoire then you can move onto things that are slightly more complicated.  In a study, “Eleven participants described progressing methodically from simple to complex in classroom instruction” (Paney & Buoniviri, 2013, p. 407) when teaching melodic dictation to their AP Music Theory classes, and this approach can be applied to any teaching of music theory.  This approach would work well with the basics, especially when put into certain contexts, because it worked well when teaching students to listen to and dictate both rhythms and notes, and even at a complex level, when they had little to no experience.  Approaching theory like this, or any music in general, and putting it into a context is when students will begin to comprehend, and see the importance in what they are learning.  Being able to understand the mechanics behind music will make them better musicians, because they will be doing more than just playing the notes on their page, they will be actively engaged and finding exactly how they and their part fit into and function as part of the whole ensemble.

Inquisitive Thinker

How do I know that I am teaching well? That I am comfortable with the way that I teach?

I think that at some point every teacher will begin to question whether they are doing things the right way, and they need to be able to think objectively about what they are doing in order to evaluate themselves.  It is important to look at both the teacher and the students.  One thing that might get in the way is a teacher’s unwillingness to change simply because they themselves are comfortable the way things are, even if the students are not.  Teachers need to be able to think critically about themselves, and this can be done by first observing others teach.  In a study, undergraduate students began teaching and “soon found themselves not only observing other teachers but critically analyzing the teaching methods and outcomes they observed in order to assess what strategies were effective and what teacher actions they may later integrate into their teaching” (Haston & Russell, 2011, p. 386).  This is something that every teacher should do, because by observing others objectively and then turning around and doing the same thing to yourself you can begin to see what direction you want to go from there.  Another way to evaluate your own teaching style is to simply look at the students and see how they react to your teaching style, see how much progress they have achieved since you started teaching them.  This can be done after observing other teachers and their students, and compare the way their students react versus your own.

Community Leader

How do you keep students motivated when music gets more difficult and they might feel discouraged?

Barry Green (2003) said that “Music is one of the most powerful sources of truth that we have: it has the power to change lives” (p. 271) and this is something that teachers and students need to remind themselves of when things get hard.  When students are struggling with something, it is important that both the student and the teacher take the time to address the problem and approach it carefully.  There are people that shut down when they don’t understand something or begin to have problems, and teachers have to be able to deal with them.  Sometimes it is as simple as slowing things down in ensemble rehearsal, not singling anyone out, but working things out as a group in the hopes that the student will catch on or those around them will help.  Sometimes students require more focused or individual attention, like working with a particular section or pulling them to the side and focusing solely on them until they start making progress.  When I have problems, I simply remind myself that “All musicians have bad days” (Green, 2003, p. 275) and that because music is so important I should work hard to keep it a part of me, and this is something to remind students of.

References

Ayers, W., & Alexander-Tanner, R. (2010). To teach: The journey, in comics. New York: Teachers College Press.

Green, B. (2003). The mastery of music: Ten pathways to true artistry. New York: Broadway Books.

Haston, W., & Russell, J. A. (2011). Turning Into Teachers: Influences of Authentic Context

Learning Experiences on Occupational Identity Development of Preservice Music Teachers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59(4), 369-392. doi:10.1177/0022429411414716

Paney, A. S., & Buonviri, N. O. (2013). Teaching Melodic Dictation in Advanced Placement Music

Theory. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(4), 396-414. doi:10.1177/0022429413508411

Group Music Leading

MUE 110 Group Teaching (Tanyon, Andrea, Janelle) – 4/19/16

Rationale

This activity is an interactive song utilizing patting, clapping, and stomping.  It addresses the concepts of risk-taking, unity and variety, and groove.  The students will be learning about dynamics through the different movements (pat, clamp, stomp) by getting louder each time there is a switch.  They will also be learning about basic rhythms and staying in time with a group, and each time there is a rotation either improvising or copying a previous improvisation.  This is a group activity that also calls students out as leaders, and requires that everyone stay together and actively participate.

Procedure

  • Gather students in a circle around teachers
  • The piano intro plays to get students’ attention (Tanyon)
  • Teachers get in center of circle and begin the song with the patting (Andrea), then clapping (Janelle), then stomping (Tanyon)
  • Start patting quietly and sing the song, (“We pat and we pat in the patting song, this is how we pat so pat along…”) then improvise a short simple rhythm that the group will repeat
  • Teachers cue students to join in
  • After completion of the call and response of the patting move onto the clapping, then repeat for stomping, getting louder each time
  • The piano part plays again while the teachers select three willing students to be in the center to improvise the call for patting, clapping, and stomping
  • After the completion of the rotation three new students will be chosen (during the piano interlude) and the activity repeated
  • Complete as many rotations as it takes to get through everyone or until time runs out

Assessment

The success of this activity will be based on the students’ active participation and (hopefully) enjoyment of the activity as a whole.  They will have successfully completed it if they have remained engaged throughout the whole thing, followed directions, and done their part: singing at obviously different dynamic levels, maintaining a steady beat while singing, improvising rhythms of the proper length (8 beats) while maintaining the groove/tempo, and reproducing other students’ patted/clapped/stomped rhythmic calls accurately.

Reflection

The overall activity was a success because all of the students actively participated to the best of their abilities and seemed to enjoy the activity as a whole (2:24). Most of them remained engaged the entire time and paid attention to all of the actions and little instructions that were given throughout.  They seemed to grasp the basic instructions even when they weren’t specifically being told to do the entire time.  They also seemed to catch onto the concepts that we were trying to address: risk-taking, unity and variety, and groove, even when we didn’t tell them what we were looking for.  The group only required some guidance at times when they weren’t doing exactly what we needed them to, like coming in and joining the patting with the teachers, singing the words, and copying the rhythm that was just given to them (1:09 versus 1:52, 2:08 and 2:39).  Even though the students didn’t need every step explained to them, I would have liked to give some more basic instructions at the beginning so as to not have any confusion when starting the singing and copying rotation (0:18).  To extend this experience I would like to have someone playing the piano riff each time that there was singing, during it, to keep a steady tempo the whole time.  I feel that having the piano going most of the time would help with making sure that everyone is singing (no voice would stick out if that was an issue for some students) and also to help with making sure they are singing the right dynamics.  I would also like to add another component to it, like perhaps having the students choose the next person instead of the teachers or add a dance to make it feel more involved, relaxed, and enjoyable.  From this experience I learned that sometimes minimal explanation is the best way to teach, especially interactive group activities.  While I think that this one could have used a little more verbal instruction, it seemed to go a lot smoother than my previous teachings where I gave what seemed like too much instruction for a simple activity.  Collaborating with others for a teaching was a good experience because we were able to combine all of our strengths to make the activity as successful as possible, and I was able to learn from people with different teaching styles than my own.

 

 

 

 

Professional Development Seminar

Christina Soper’s seminar “Crawl, Walk, Run: Prioritizing Your Beginning Instrumental Curriculum” at AMEA was all about curricular pacing: having to slow down and give them the tools that they need in order to build a good foundation as performers.  Beginning band directors have to make sure that by the time their students graduate from their program and move to higher levels of music classes that their students are able to do what they need to, and that they do it well.  Building good foundations is what helps musicians in the long-run.  Instilling good playing habits and literacy increases their success as musicians, and it all starts at the beginning.  Beginning band directors have the responsibility of recruitment, their success in this affects junior high and high school band programs, and they have the responsibility of giving the students all of the tools for success.  These tools include finding the right instrument (what the student is most suited to play), establishing procedures (both in the classroom and taking proper care of their instruments), teaching rhythms and music, and how to read them and how to articulate.  Most people don’t recognize the important job that beginning band directors have, their programs affect a student’s entire musical experience, and the programs of other schools for which their school is a feeder.  Going to this seminar really improved my views on and respect for beginning band directors, because Ms. Soper highlighted all of their responsibilities and showed their importance.

Thinking As A Professional

1.) Yelling:

What do you do when a classroom teacher is a yeller and that is the only way the kids listen? I hate raising my voice but these kids are out of control. I have a quiet sign and a quiet bell. My lesson is age appropriate and interactive. Kids are just so so loud.

-A lot of the responses revolved around changing the way that the classroom is run, having different signals and methods of getting the attention of the students, or having a consequence system for those that don’t listen and follow directions.

-In this situation I would sit down with the students (whole class) and have a talk about classroom expectations, the difference between the way that their regular teacher and music teacher run their classroom.  I might explain that I don’t want to have to yell, and that if I do I would implement some kind of consequence system for the students that refuse to listen.

 

2.) Kindergarten Class:

I have one K class that for the life of me I can’t get to sing as a group. When we do solo stuff and improvised patterns/songs, almost all of them are singing at least part of the time with a singing voice. But, whole group singing just doesn’t happen with this particular class (it’s only one class). Pleasant kids and happy to be there, but they just look back at me and don’t sing. Anyone experience this? Ideas?

-Most of the responses were suggestions for different ways to do the singing activity, breaking up the groups or doing more echo and call-and-response songs to increase participation and give more help to the students that need it.  There were also suggestions of separating the students according to different levels and/or turning the activity into a competition of sorts with the teacher.

-I would break the class up into groups, according to skill level and get them to help each other to encourage more participation.  If they still don’t participate then I would try and change the activity to something that they would enjoy more or make some slight changes about things that they may not like about it.

 

3.) Disruptions:

Does any one have extreme anxiety over one class they see? This is my first year teaching and I have one group of fifth graders that I am struggling with. I’ve done bucket drums, boom whackers, and recorders this year so far. I have about 5 students that continue to disrupt the class and I feel like I don’t have much support. Any lesson ideas that I could do to help with this?

-A lot of the responses had to do with consequences, like calling students out in class or calling home, some had suggestions for different types activities that the students might enjoy more, and there was one that suggested that the teacher take a different approach with the class.

-In this situation I would start with talking to the class, not specifically calling anyone out, just say that some of them are causing problems and that it needs to stop or there will be consequences.  In the case that this approach fails, I would then call them out or talk to them separately and find out why they are causing problems and see if there was a way that we could work together to solve this issue.

 

4.) Discipline:

OK…here we are at the end of the year and I have a question for you. This year I have encountered several students who are just plain discipline problems and disrespectful to my face. Have any of you ever asked a student to not be in band the following year due to their behavior problems? I feel like I may be sacrificing the success of my band if I keep these type of students in my band just for the sake of numbers…just wondering what you guys think….

-There were different types of responses to this question, one was to look into the cause of the behavior, ask the student and/or call home to see why they act that way and maybe find a way to deal with it, and another was to kick the students out of the class.

-Personally I would talk to the students first about their behavior and explain that it is affecting everyone, not just them, and see if there was anything that we could work out for them to start behaving themselves.  If that didn’t work then I would contact home and see if there was anything on that end that would get them to be better in class.