Reflections on my practicum.

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!

See you in the fall!

1 comment:

~Vanessa~ said...

Matt, I found your blog! I love the key points you learnt in Practicum last year! I'm very much looking forward to this years :) We should totally try to do a weekly de-briefing! <3