Holiday Performance!

Here’s a photo from my Wind Ensemble (7/8th grade) performing at their holiday performance!

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Share the love of Music

People at my school think I’m nuts when they start hearing Christmas music in the hallways in October. They always ask me, “Why do you start so early?” From the beginning of the school year, Winter Break seems like ages away… but for music teachers, it hits us like “a train heading into a brick wall.” Weeks of rehearsals will be showcased into Winter Concerts that the students will perform in. Upon this week coming to a close, next week my school has 4 performances (Tuesday-Friday) that share the joys of music with the families and friends of our students.

When students have a goal to work towards, they are more enthusiastic about learning. While the music teacher is the mastermind behind all the madness, I think it is important that we take a step back and realize that while we want perfection, we always want children to enjoy music. I will admit there are times when I over-react and stress out over the quality of the performance. Next week, I have 4 ensembles performing: 1st Year Band (4th graders), 2nd Year Band (5th Graders), Concert Band (5/6th Graders) and Wind Ensemble (6/7/8th). And yes, my eye is twitching with lack of sleep and stress over my 1st Year Band, but when the children beam with smiles on their faces on that stage next week, that is why I am a music teacher: To share the love of music!

Thanksgiving- Musical Family

So my cousin is a modern 21st century… new “music” musician… what does that mean?  He listens and composes music that pushes the boundary.. definitely the opposite of my classical training.   So at family gatherings, such as Thanksgiving, my cousin will always share the latest music.  Usually I smile and listen to his music, with an open mind.  HOWEVER, he showed me this video of a young guy creating his beatbox patterns with paper.  LITERALLY, we sat there for hours and watch all his youtube videos.  Check this out and ALL HIS videos!  (His Disney Princess parodies are pretty fun)

Looping! At it’s best

Looping is taking a small section of music and repeating it.  With technology, digital samples are recorded and programmed through music software to create music.  Check out this AMAZING video of someone sampling LIVE loops.  Are you HAPPY?

True Inspiration

I remember in one of my NYU classes, this video was shown to all the music majors about the youth orchestra in Venezuela.  The Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar was created for the youth of Venezuela of poor socio-economic backgrounds.  I remember watching children worshiping their instruments, sleeping with them at night, as they knew it was the greatest thing in their life.  Music can have such a strong impact on a child and can completely change their life.  Watch the video below and you can see how music has truly changed the lives of someone AMAZING and young musicians! (PS, the video we watched was a BBC special which I cannot locate)

STEM vs STEAM

“Our children need a well-rounded, quality education that enables them to make informed decisions that will impact the world and the way they live.”- Anne Jolly

It is important that as educators, we are preparing our students to be citizens of the 21st century. STEM has been implemented into school systems to challenge students with a more in-depth approach to math and science.

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The purpose of STEM focuses on skills that develop critical thinkers through “problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship…” With our ever-changing society, it is important that STEAM is the new approach as it emphasizes the importance of arts educations. While STEM lessons have already collaborated with language arts and social studies/history, why is it that the arts are left out? Many lessons and assignments already incorporate Art as it encourages students to be imaginative and innovative with their thinking. So as we prepare students for the 21st century, a well-rounded education that INCLUDE arts is essential for their success.

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To Help or Not To Help… that is the Question….

I came across this article about parents helping out their students with homework. As children age, a parent was beginning to question how much involvement they should have with homework.

The author, who has children in 1st and 2nd grade, feels that it is her responsibility to have her children complete their homework every night.

She concluded that there are three methods of parenting and homework:

Method 1:

The parent is a supervisor and checks work when finished.

Method 2:

The parent sets the child up to study (routine place/time) and reviews material. However, the parent leaves the children to complete the assignment on their own.

Method 3:

They do everything to help them finish so that the child can do whatever they want after school.

While the author felt she has been guilty of all three methods, she was able to conclude that the role of a parent helping with homework is the following:

  1. It helps to establish a commitment and routine.
  2. It helps them to be more engaged in learning.
  3. It helps me to be more engaged in their education.

As a music educator, I think that the same guidelines are essential to help students be independent musicians. While my mom or dad can’t practice for me (just like how they didn’t do my homework for me), their involvement with my practicing helped me to succeed as a musician.

  1. It helps to establish a commitment and routine.

I always recommend to my parents to have their child play while they are cooking dinner. It provides entertainment for the parent while they are cooking and establishes a clear routine for the student.

  1. It helps them to be more engaged in learning.

They are able to self-regulate their practice sessions at their own pace. Students should be able to note which pieces/selections are more difficult and focus on them.

  1. It helps me to be more engaged in their education.

It is important to know what your child is practicing. Don’t just sit them down in front of a music stand and walk away, expecting that they are able to practice effectively. For younger child, it is important that parents are engaged and are interactive. As the children get older, then the parent is able to slowly step back. However, knowing the expectations or the goal for the child will allows them to succeed.

 

Growing up, my mom always sat with me while I practiced when I first began playing the piano and the flute. When I was in kindergarten and starting Suzuki piano, she sat next to me on the piano bench and guided me through my practice sessions. 30 minutes a day was part of my daily chore chart and in order for me to receive my allowance; I had to make sure they were checked off my chart every day. Eventually, I switched from the piano to the flute in the 4th grade. My mom, once again, sat in the living room as I practiced. She would play the piece that I was learning on the piano some times when I wasn’t quite sure if I was playing the right notes or rhythm. By the time I was in the 6th grade, my mom stopped sitting in the same room as she knew that I was able to facilitate my own practicing sessions (and also the fact that the music I was playing, was beyond her musical ability.)   My mom still established a routine of my practice sessions to make sure that I was always prepared for my private flute lessons, performance or recital.

So mom, despite the arguments of a tween not wanting to practice — THANK YOU!

Computer Feedback

Smart Music is a program that students use at home to facilitate their practice sessions. Often compared to video games like Guitar Hero, accompaniment and notes are on the computer screen for students. The interactive program assists students with practicing their instrument at home. Fingering charts, tuners, and metronomes are also available as resources for the students to utilize. Playing along with the accompaniment, students are given an immediate percentage score that determine which notes were played correctly or incorrectly. Teachers are able to track the students’ practice sessions by assigning practice records. Through the practice records function, teachers can see what selections students practiced and for how long they practiced it. Teachers listen to each submitted recording and can provide feedback to the student. Recently, a sight-reading portion was added as a feature that truly tests the musical capabilities of the student.

Check out how I use Smart Music in my classroom:

Here is an example of how to use Smart Music for individual practice: