Here are a few things that I learned from my first student teaching placement:
1. The primary role of the director is to listen at all times.
2. Sectionals are extremely important, but should not be places for students to learn their notes and rhythms. Instead, sectionals should be used as time spent working on instrument-specific things and doing chamber rep. Sectionals are also a place for students to develop independently from the director.
3. Make sure that you have food that you can eat quickly - you never know when you'll end up missing lunch.
4. Take the time to have everyone in your bands play percussion once in a while - it works so many different aspects of musicianship.
5. Build a 3 or 4-year plan for repertoire, and figure out what you value as the basis for the repertoire you choose.
6. Focusing on balance and blend usually solves intonation problems.
7. Bloom's Mastery Learning - do not continue until a concept/skill has been fully understood and a student can demonstrate proficiency.
8. Teach articulation styles with letters for tonguing - T t D d L l.
9. When presented with problems, ascertain whether the problem is with a concept or a skill. If it is a concept problem, talk through it until everyone understands. If it is a skill problem, then drill, drill, drill.
10. In rehearsal, focus on one concept (balance, blend, crescendo and decrescendo, tone matching, etc), and teach the concept after the warm-up and rehearse sections in the repertoire that the students will need that concept for. This approach focuses your rehearsal and reinforces learning better than trying to fix everything at once.
11. Don't try to fix everything at once. (see above).
12. A good lesson plan outline: Warm-up, Lesson, Technique, Repertoire.
13. The Rule of Swing Phrasing - emphasize (tongue) the first, highest, and last notes in a phrase.
14. Wait time is perfectly acceptable. Make sure you have collected your thoughts before you say anything - otherwise you run the risk of babbling or saying something you regret.
15. Be as efficient as you can with what you say in class.
16. Check your ego at the door. Once you enter the school, your first responsibility is to the students. Constantly ask the questions, "What is best for the students? What do the students want? What do the students need?"
17. Don't try to make fewer bad decisions. Instead, strive to make more good decisions.
18. Many discipline problems will disappear if your pacing is good.
19. Never, ever talk over students - you will hurt your voice and then have to repeat what you said. Wait until you have everyone's full attention before you speak.
20. The podium is for conducting, not for teaching.
21. Developing a chamber program is the key to having strong, independent musicians.
22. Realize whether you are being a band director or a music educator.
23. Always remember why you got into music - it is fun and interesting to play!
24. Be prepared for anything - you may find yourself in the role of a stagehand/roadie, a guidance counsellor, or anything in between.
25. Above all, the students are the only important part of our job. Strive for compassion, kindness, love, and mercy. Try to get to know each student individually. Take a genuine interest in who they are. See them for who they are, but also for who they can be. We don't teach band - we teach life through music. Through music, we enrich our students' lives and teach them a way to make sense of the world.
In other news, I'm leaving bright and early for Cold Lake, Alberta for the summer. I'm teaching music to Cadets there. Wish me luck and send me mail! Message me if you'd like my mailing address - I'd love to hear from you!
The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:
- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
- What I create will be just for you.
- It'll be done this year (2009).
- You have no clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something over the internet. It may be a mixed CD. It may be a poem. It may be a felt mouse or a triple-chocolate cake or a handful of origami wish-stars. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! (not me either)
- I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.
Here's the fine print:
In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note of your own and make 5 things for 5 others.
Here is a quick primer to understand what makes "new music" tick. You might even find something to use in a non-classical music style as well!
New Music is based on this principle: All sound is music. This principle came out of composers trying to take music in new directions after the first World War. This led first to new systems, such as Schoenberg's twelve-tone rows, and later, the serialism of Boulez and Stockhausen, and also to new conceptions of what music should sound like. A turning point in this stream is Varese's Ionization, which was written for a percussion ensemble.
After Varese, composers took the sound of music even further - people began writing music that included extended playing techniques, such as clicking the keys on a flute, or tapping a violin body, or even hitting the strings inside of a piano with a mallet! This led to a greatly expanded sound palette that composers could draw from, and an increased understanding of how a sound or texture could be a melody (rather than a series of notes).
I could go into more detail, but for the sake of keeping your interest, I'll stop here and let you read up on things for yourself if you are interested - Wiki John Cage for a good read.
So, to understand listening to "new music", first think this: What do I hear? Don't judge immediately. Try to identify the sounds that you are hearing. Also listen for musical ideas that keep coming back. Next, think "What does this sound like?". Does this sound mimic anything I have heard before? What kind of emotions or feelings does this sound evoke in me? After you have thought about those things, then you can judge for yourself whether you appreciated the piece.
Now go out and listen to some new music!
Excerpted from "The Dangerous Book for Boys".
You may already have noticed that girls are quite different from you. By this, we do not mean the physical differences, more the fact that they remain unimpressed by your mastery of a game involving wizards, or your understanding of Morse Code. Some will be impressed, of course, but as a general rule, girls do not get quite as excited by the use of urine as a secret ink as boys do.
We thought long and hard about what advice could possibly be suitable. It is an inescapable fact that boys spend a great deal of their lives thinking and dreaming about girls, so the subject should be mentioned here – as delicately as possible.
Advice about Girls
1. It is important to listen. Human beings are often very self-centred and like to talk about themselves. In addition, it’s an easy subject if someone is nervous. It is good advice to listen closely – unless she has also been given this advice, in which case an uneasy silence could develop, like two owls sitting together.
2. Be careful with humour. It is very common for boys to try to impress girls with a string of jokes, each one more desperate than the last. One joke, perhaps, and then a long silence while she talks about herself…
3. When you are older, flowers really do work – women love them. When you are young, however, there is a ghastly sense of being awkward rather than romantic – and she will guess your mother bought them.
4. Valentine’s Day cards. Do not put your name on them. The whole point is the excitement a girl feels, wondering who finds her attractive. If it says ‘From Brian’ on it, the magic isn’t really there. This is actually quite a nice thing to do to someone you don’t think will get a card. If you do this, it is even more important that you never say, ‘I sent you one because I thought you wouldn’t get any.’ Keep the cards simple. You do not want one with padding of any kind.
5. Avoid being vulgar. Excitable bouts of wind-breaking will not endear you to a girl, just to pick one example.
6. Play sport of some kind. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it replaces the corpse-like pallor of the computer programmer with a ruddy glow. Honestly, this is more important than you know.
7. If you see a girl in need of help – unable to lift something, for example – do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, whilst surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. If you can’t, try sitting on it and engaging her in conversation.
8. Finally, make sure you are well-scrubbed, your nails are clean and your hair is washed. Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them, life would be one long rugby locker room. Treat them with respect.