pursuing beauty as a way of life

A collection of my own ideas and new discoveries that give me a deeper insight to what it really means to be a musician.

I mostly use this as my online bulletin board to helpful articles I find on the Internet about conducting, singing, choir, how to develop musicianship, and other resources an aspiring music teacher would find useful on the journey towards a successful career :)

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Tips for New Teachers

Tips for New TeachersE-mail

Pontiff, E. (Ed.) (2004). Spotlight on Transition to Teaching Music: Selected articles from state MEA journals. Music Educators National Conference Publication, Reston, VA.

Articles from above publication include:

The First Year: Practical Advice for Surviving and Thriving in Your First Music Classroom by Sara Francis, pp.110-116.

  • Don’t be surprised if you encounter some resistance from students when arriving as the new teacher. Unlike many other subject areas students in music will often have the same teacher for many years so the transition may not always be an easy one for them. To help with this meet or talk on the phone with the outgoing teacher to ask questions about budget, instrument rental and procedures, music library, daily routines, “rules”, traditions and special events. Combine these with your own ideas. Discuss policies with your students. p. 111.

  • Feel free to use your predecessor’s way of dealing with things if you feel it is appropriate. Find experienced teachers to serve as mentors. Build relationships with school administrators, meet with your principal to discuss goals for yourself and your students, take time to get to know your fellow colleagues, continue relationships with college professors and other mentors. p.112.

  • Ask colleagues if you may borrow lesson plans, books etc… for ideas you might use. Other sources for ideas to try can be taken from professional journals and newsletters, web sites. Keep lines of communication open with students and parents through newsletters, progress reports etc… Always phone parents if there is a major discipline problem with their child in your classroom. p. 113.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your students’ parents to help out when needed. Communicate clearly to your students what your long and short term goals are for them. Have behavioral rules decided on and displayed prominently in your classroom for the beginning of the year. Be clear about what your expectations and the ramifications for not meeting those expectations will be. p.114

  • Devise a system for use in modifying student behavior and clearly state what your expectations are and what the system will be for those not following rules. p.115.

Ready-Set-Go! By William G. Mack, pp.121-122.

  • Decide who your band or instrument dealer will be.
  • Take inventory of all equipment, music and facilities.
  • Find out what your budget allotments are.
  • Make sure all performances are included on the school’s master calendar.
  • Devise a handbook containing all appropriate topics.
  • Have a pre-start of school “party” for students to get to meet.
  • Obtain a list of students and their instruments by grade level.
  • If marching band is included in your duties, plan to include that in your summer activities.

Other excellent articles from same book:

Some Survival Tips for Beginning Teachers by Michael V. Smith, pp.124-126.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Joyce Spade, p.126.

Surviving As a New Music Educator: Surviving, Thriving…and Going back for Another Journey! By Jason Kriner, pp.129-133.

Preston, T. K. (2004). Teacher to Teacher: A Music Educator’s Survival Guide. Music Educators National Conference Publication, Reston, VA.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FIRST GET A JOB?

Robertson, C.B. (2003). Confessions of a First-Year Maestro: A Guide for Your First Year of Teaching. GIA Publications, Inc., Chicago, IL.

  • Importance of keeping lists, p.5
  • Schedule for a balanced life – include “free time,” p.5
  • As soon as position is accepted go to school to check out the environment, p.13
  • Take your own classroom and personal office items to school, p.13
  • Expect to make organizational changes, p.14
  • Work on organizing your office first, p.15
  • Find out from others who student leaders are and invite them to meet with you and help organize the classroom and materials (e.g. music, instruments etc…), p.15
  • Obtain copies of class rosters for student #’s, p. 16.
  • Check out the music library to see what’s available, p.16.
  • Begin selecting a variety of works to use with the students at the beginning of the school year, p.16.
  • Make copies of the music and lesson plans for introducing the new pieces, p. 17.
  • Administrative wise, work out concert dates and make a date sheet to distribute at the beginning of the semester, p. 17.
  • Create a handbook containing rules and expectations, and distribute on first day along with calendar sheet, p. 17.
  • Be prepared! p. 17.
  • Plan your curriculum – e.g. will you have marching band camp in addition to your regular semester classes?, p. 19.
  • Learn students names as soon as possible. To assist with this meet with students individually or in small groups for lessons or assignments, p. 32.
  • To assist in learning names, look at old year books for photos to match names and faces, p. 33.

Author Suggestions for First Week

  • Taking attendance, learning names, passing out music, assigning lockers, school instruments and folders, p.35.
  • Define expectations in syllabus and explain how students will be graded, p.39.
  • Rubrics are good for assignment expectations and daily grades, checklists also good, p.41.
  • ”Expect the unexpected.”, p.42.
  • Be prepared to break routines set by your predecessor/s, p.46.
  • Decide if you want students in classroom before or after school or during the lunch hour to practice. Provide passes so it doesn’t become a social thing, p.47 & 48.
  • Early on initiate music checks to ensure that students always bring their music to class, p.51.
  • Keep notes about what works and what doesn’t for future reference, p.53.

Other ideas not in book: Use a seating chart to help remember names, wash hands a lot to avoid getting ill, prepare grade book, decorate room, check instruments for repairs, think of games or activities that might be useful in assisting in learning names early in the semester.


Q&A for music teachers

Vocal

What has been most important in helping retain students after they complete their first year in a choir class and/or after they move into high school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010

Disney! We participate in Disney’s Magic Music Days every-other year. It never gets old. They get to go twice during their high school years and I plan the trips myself with the travel help from Academic Travel(who incidentally has a booth at TMEA and TCDA every year.It keeps them coming back, year after year and they love telling the 8th graders about it during our recruiting tour.

Submitted by: Tina Bernard
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I believe the most effective way to keep students in the choir program is to make them feel successful both individually and as a choir (team). This means the director must teach in a way that students are being equipped individually and collectively as better musicians and team members. 

Submitted by: Dudley McMahan
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Relationships

Submitted by: Karla Cruz
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Program quality music that challenges, but doesn’t overwhelm your singers, and they’ll keep coming back year after year.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Focus on the progress already made with indication of future success. Have connection with teacher at next level.

Submitted by: Andrew Lenz
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When students feel valued by you and believe you care for them, the probability of them returning is very high, regardless of any special things you do. As many directors do, we perform a show of “fun music” at the end of the year. In February, the choir brainstorms on thematic ideas, ultimately voting on the show theme (obviously, the music has to be available) and then gives me song ideas to research. Our choir banquet is also a time to celebrate success and have fun. For many students who can’t afford to go to prom, this is their big event. We keep the cost reasonable and do what we can to dress it up. As for retention into high school, the junior high director is critical. If singers have a positive junior high experience, they are much more likely to stay in choir. I currently go to the junior high daily to work with the wonderful director at my only feeder school. This establishes strong relationships with the students prior to them making these retention decisions.

Submitted by: John Tucker
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I believe the most important factor has been in building a relationship with the students. It is difficult to keep boys in choir. For those who play sports, I go to some of their games to show my interest in their lives. When they make their schedules for the next year, I speak with each member and try to convince them of their importance to the choral program. I also am trying more to get to know them in middle school so they will be more comfortable when they start high school choir. I tell them in middle school that since they have to take a year of fine arts, they might as well try it their freshman year and if they don’t like it they can leave, but I am having a good rate of success in keeping students all four years. 

Submitted by: Davd Vehon
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One thing I have noticed that encourages students to stay in choir is participating in UIL solo and ensemble contest. It gives us the opportunity to give each student personalized vocal coaching and it fosters relationships with the students in a less formal setting than in class. The preparation, plus the positive critique from the judge, is very motivating, especially when students do well. It hooks them, and they can’t wait for next year’s solo or ensemble.

Submitted by: Rosemary Whittle
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To put it in business terms, there has to be a good cost/benefit ratio. They have to believe that the opportunities presented to them—the instruction they will be given and ultimately the results of their efforts—are worth the cost of time and money that they will have to give. Am I programming literature that will challenge and inspire the students and me? Do members of all groups feel important, or just the top (or more specifically the pop) group? Are there reasons for my students to want to be in the room and in the class? Do I make them want to be here? These are the questions that need to be asked, answered, and analyzed often.

Submitted by: Robert Draper
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Know your music. Dedicate the necessary score study time. Find the best scores and composers for each specific choir. Know your singers’ abilities well and select music that will challenge but not overwhelm them. Can you surprise your choir on a daily basis? Do you know and love your scores so much that they are inspiring to open and study on a daily basis and thus you find new and inspiring ways to teach them? Are you teaching to the visual, the aural, and the kinesthetic learner? Are there certain kinds of repertoire or composers you avoid because you are afraid that you can’t teach them well? Add one of these pieces every year! 

Submitted by: Richard Bjella
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Making sure the student knows how important they are to the Choir and helping them in planning for the events that they will be performing in. I try to give them something to look forward to as well as show them how to prepare over the summer break.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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In our small school, the programs and the attention they draw bring students back. They must think the music is fun. Even making a difficult piece fun can keep them engaged. Students are also more apt to stay if they feel they are a part of the group dynamic. There is nothing worse than feeling you are not a part of the whole. So I work to support sections and give students the chance to be a part of the whole process.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Jernigan
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Sing great music! Don’t sing only pop songs just because the kids like them. They may not sound as good with an SATB choir as they did on the radio. Last year, for our end-of-year concert, students requested more Monteverdi. Don’t sell them short. They are good singers who love good music and they won’t get this in any other school organization. 

Submitted by: Chris Hutchison
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One of the most important retention strategies for our choir has been the inclusion of a variety of area church visits. The choir offers special music during the service. I always make arrangements for the church hospitality group to provide a meal for the choir after the service. I find that the students bond throughout this process. It is also a wonderful recruitment tool and a community service. 

Submitted by: Jennifer Wise
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The two most important factors in student retention for band are availability of materials needed and passing of both academics and the TAKS test.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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The level of a student’s commitment to music and/or to the program is the most important aspect in retention. Though students may complete their first year with success and enjoyment, unless they feel that they can contribute to the quality of the group or that the program can contribute to their future in school, they won’t continue.

Submitted by: Susan Mendel
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I think that the most important element in retaining students after the first year is creating positive and fun learning environment, offering the opportunity to learn many different styles of music and the ability to perform them well. Showing them that music offers a great deal of future opportunity in career and college resources. What encourages them to continue through high school is a HS teacher that continues to challenge them with more learning the opportunities, college scholarships through music and more performing events that allow them to travel.

Submitted by: Wanda Verdun
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Elementary

How do you deal with large classes (45 students or more)? What strategies work for discipline and teaching your music objectives/TEKS (including instructing on Orff, dance, and games)?
Submitted by: Michele Hobizal, Answered in: May 2010

When my schedule required teaching double homerooms daily, we started the year with a discussion in each class about how to make the class safe, fun, and so everyone could get a turn. I turned the kids ideas into our classroom rules, and they bought into it. It’s harder with less space and time for turns, so we use “the bubble game” a lot (staying in your own personal space no matter what or you are out). Games sometimes require two circles instead of one, dances sometimes require students to take turns and be my “watchers” to watch for those doing their best. My biggest challenge was recorder groups, simply because of space. I was lucky in that I was able to use the hallway or stage attached to my room for trustworthy groups, and this helped me get more trustworthy students because they all wanted to work on the stage.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Shier
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Plan on less activities so all students participate
Strive for materials which will apply to your class.
Don’t teach down: choose quality examples of music-not “canned” music.
Use seating charts/learn students names.
Set up-if possible-so no students sit behind another.

Submitted by: Gary Mosse
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I found a great tool to use for discipline in my classes from the Music K-8 magazine several years ago. As the students come in the classroom they earn beats, 1-5 according to how quiet and orderly they are. A different team captain puts “beats” on a staff each day. As they leave the same team captain puts up beats again given for class participation and behavior. At the end of the 6 weeks, they earn a “party” if they have reached their goal of 10, 12 or more times around the board(24 total beats on the board). A “party” is a day that I let them choose. Usually a movie(music related ,of course), a game that pertains to something we have learned, or singing favorite songs.
For teaching Orff, I use “Mallet Madness” by Artie Almeida. The instruments are placed in the order of wood, metal, skin, and they rotate through several instruments and many students get to play. I highly recommend it!

Submitted by: Carla Lowery
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With classes that are large, trying to keep the discipline in the classroom is tough. I think that if you set the rules of the class, consequences for breaking the rules and rewards for following the rules, at the beginning of the year and be CONSISTENT about the rules, you should have a smooth running class.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Having a precise lesson plan in place is a MUST. Discipline issues pop up most frequently when students have “down time”. Greet the class(es) at the door and start before you’ve crossed to the front of the room. Also, I call anyone requiring more extensive redirection to the hall to speak. This gives them privacy (for pride) and removes their influence from the room. I stand just inside the door to speak with them, work quickly, and return to the room asap in order to prevent the dreaded “down time”.

Submitted by: Kimberly Stephenson
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I put my students into groups of four to manage them easier. Each group is responsible for their behavior and need to work together as a group. If one chooses not to do the ‘right’ thing they all suffer the consequence, or they all get a reward for a good choice. I also do alot of Kagan activities. I particularly like “Numbered Heads Together” and play that as a game in itself. I also break up my instrument groups for Orff arrangements into different stations that incorporate about 8 students each. Then they rotate from station to station. Often one of the stations is just singing. The kids love this because they know that eventually they will get to play the instrument they want.

Submitted by: Tamara Kahler
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The single most important factor to avoid discipline problems is to have a well prepared lesson where the pacing moves smoothly from one activity to another. I have established routines in place for making circles, making lines for turns on the Orff instruments and also how we will treat each other when we divide into pairs for dancing. This avoids wasted time getting into position. We almost always start with a warmup. This moves to the lesson objective (preparing for a new pitch or rhythm, presenting the element or reviewing an element) and extending this through a game, dance or instrument pattern that reinforces the element. If my group is large, I let the students help me adapt our games so we have room to play. Most of my students come to me after sitting in class, so movement, standing to sing, fun warmups, etc.result in focusing their energies.

Submitted by: Margaret Hubbard
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I get to see my 4th and 5th graders once a week. The classes are 50+ each. Discipline is a challenge. I get good help from homeroom teachers who stay in the background and keep their eyes open. I also keep moving around the room. The students never know when I might be standing right next to them. I also frequently and randomly call on individuals to demonstrate for me and the class something we just covered. This helps to keep them focused, because they never know when they may be in the “hot seat”. Keep things fast moving with lots of energy and the kids won’t have time to do anything else.

Submitted by: Harlan Yenne
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Be passionate about music and you job. Be prepared. Have a plan. Structure, structure, structure. Seating charts. Learn their names. Use their names. Be energetic without making the kids crazy. Be ready to change directions to fit the group. Establish classroom procedures early and revisit often. Be consistent. Be nice. Be fun. Keep them busy; no down time. Don’t waste their time. We don’t get enough time with our students as it is.

Submitted by: Larry Shudra
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One way is to split the class into teams [2 or more]. One group is the audience and the other the performers. In play sometimes children sit out and watch until their turn. Waiting turns is a learning experience. Little Ms./Mr. Wiggles can stand and hold a basket or something so they think they are helping.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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From my experience in TMEA Convention classes, rotating short activites very quickly seems to work. Busy, busy! That should be your motto. Move fast and keep the variety coming! Artie Almeida has some great “quickie” recorder activities in her “Recorder Express” book. I especially like the rotating personnel lines of “BAG” notes, like a relay, in which each line of students is assigned one note and plays only that one while following an overhead. This idea would also work for Orff and even for singing! Also, the Boomwhackers and “found sound” activities from Hal Leonard are good. The key is to keep rotating students out, so that some play, while others sing or clap rhythms.
Good luck!

Submitted by: Rebecca Kyriakides
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The first couple of weeks of school before we go into the lesson we chant the rules almost rap like and use some motions to help them remember them better. Later we chant them when needed. Each month for the older kids, we warm up with a different song(usually patriotic),do about twenty jumping jacks,and then go on with the lesson. It seems to break the stresses from their other classes and they are ready to go on with the lesson.The younger students have the same routine-jumping jacks, sing “Welcome Back to School”, from the pink Kindergarten book in Silver Burdett(or use your own welcome song)sing a patriotic song and then go on with class. They all seem to love the routine and knowing what comes next. To keep them invloved and on task we always sing, use instruments in some way, do partner game or dance and read rhythms. Think of it in a church mentality— stand awhile ,sit awhile, move around the room in a game/with partner( or simply walking in a line to put away books or instruments)keeps them focused and engaged.

Submitted by: LInda Thrower
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We have begun using a team approach that we got from another music teacher. The class is divided into teams that are accountable to each other. There are competitions based on the concepts. It also helps for dividing the groups (Team 1 - instruments, Team 2 - Singers, Team 3 - dancers etc.) when we are doing some of the more comples Orff activities. We have used station activities such as Science of Sound with the older groups as well.

Submitted by: Nancy L. Bransom
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Develop your periphal vision so that you can call someone to task without looking at them. Use a “drum major” voice in unsafe situations. Occasionally a new person will come in and start misbehaving. I call a time-out, have everyone sit down for a moment, and I go stand/sit next to the offender and very, very quietly tell him/her that the other kids and I don’t appreciate the lack of respect being shown, “so do you think you could get on the learning train with us, and respect our classroom so that we can respect YOU?” A subdued “yes, ma’am” is followed with teacher proximity for several minutes, then a little “I need to go help someone else, can you work on your own now?” Most kids appreciate the growth of trust like that and very few problems continue.

Submitted by: Linda Richter
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I have not found a solution for classes of that size to learn anything beyond vocal technique.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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My normal class size is usually between 30 and 35 students however there are times when I have had up to 50 students in one class. Because I teach all the students music at our school, dealing with this many students has not posed much of a difficulity because all the students know me. The challenge in teaching this many students in an elementary music classroom is having enough instruments to go around. In that case, I will have students pair up on instruments and I will have them repeat the warm-up exercises or music so everyone has a turn at playing.

Submitted by: Phil Dembski
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We work mainly out of the adopted textbook and it does a pretty good job. I often questions their choice of songs and can think of many better choices-but maybe they could not get permission from copyright holders. Discipline problems are taken care of immediately and rewards are given to those (and only those) who earned them. I usually use animal crackers. The Computer and PE teachers use free time while the others do lessons.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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45 students is too many to teach and have anything stick to their memory. I teach notes, rhythm, along with terminology and for it to work, you need just a classroom - 22 - 27. Discipline - if they can not follow instructions or are talking during instructions, they will not play instruments. Also, it goes on conduct grade. For 5th graders, if students do not have a good conduct grade, they cannot play percussion in the 6th grade.

Submitted by: Janet Rowden
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What strategies do you use to encourage students to join band, orchestra, or choir in middle school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010

My thinking has always been success breeds success both on the competition end of the choral class and on the social aspect of being a member of such a team. Being a member of a good choir team means that other students that are not supports minded or such get the same benefit that a sports team does.

Submitted by: Dudley McMahan
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Talk it up! In our district, our fifth graders take an aptitude test that gets reported to the middle school music teachers. I always tell students that these directors don’t care how they do, it just helps them guide students to the instruments best suited for them. My choir performs a concert with the middle school choir in the fall and the band comes and plays for the students around Christmas (about the time they make their elective choices). Our feeder middle school has added a class period so that students can take band and choir if they are passing their TAKS subjects, so that is always good to let them know! Communication with the middle school directors is the key.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Shier
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A concert from your Band at each Elementary. Demo instruments.
A Standard Music test. Results usually only show the person’s interest in music.
The test usually has questions which point out students who will help your program.
Visit classes if possible so they can meet you.
Send letters to students with good scores with a chance for them to indicate their choice in Band.
Follow up.

Submitted by: Gary Mosse
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The band and choir directors come to our school to talk to the students about their programs. Last year, the band director brought students with their instruments. My students really enjoyed getting to see the instruments and hear what they sound like. He returned another day to find out what they wanted to play and sign them up for band. The choir director encourages students to choose band if there is a chance they want to play an instrument. They can join choir later, but cannot start band later. I teach students about instruments so that by the time the directors come, students have almost decided. The students know instruments by name, sight, and most by sound.

Submitted by: Carla Lowery
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In our district the middle school groups come to the elementary schools to give concerts a couple of times a year. Students usually get very excited about the prospect of joining any of those groups in sixth grade. Many of our elementary schools also have a fifth grade string program, which meets two or three times a week every week. Usually, the director is from a nearby middle school. I encourage fifth graders to learn the basics, which will help them be a stronger student in the middle school group of their choice.

Submitted by: Lori Rockwell
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I begin speaking about music ensembles in the fourth grade when they are eligible to enter our drumming and/or choir programs. It plants the seeds early. 

Submitted by: Kimberly Stephenson
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Present mini-concerts for incoming students.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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I produce a video each year and show the 8th graders what they have to look forward to. When they see their old friends in the video, they often find that the band isn’t as scary as they may have once thought. I also try to be present at their performances so they see that I am engaged in their band career.

Submitted by: Roger Duran
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We introduce different instruments in the fifth grade. We have concerts with the sixth grade band at their campus. We communicate with the parents by sending them information on how to register their child for band and how beneficial music will be for them in the long run. 

Submitted by: Sigifredo Sanchez
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We do a Percussion Extravaganza and if we have picked entertaining pieces, than that is usually a huge recruiting tool. The other is to go get these students when they are in Elementary School.

Submitted by: Jeffrey Otto
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I never pass up an opportunity to mention what is available to the students in the coming years. I often say, “If you thought that was fun wait till you get in _____.” I encourage students who show promise on recorders or rhythm instruments to think about trying the more challenging instruments of the band and orchestra. A little praise can do a great deal to motivate them to pursue further musical adventures. 

Submitted by: Harlan Yenne
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Talk about it often. The more good information they have, the better decisions they will make. Take away their unfounded fears. Regularly bring in excellent middle school students. They are likely familiar faces to your current students. Be sure to prep your guests in advance on what to say and perform if their director has not. If your students are good at rhythm, can read a little, and enjoy music, they will be successful in middle school music groups. Tell them that!

Submitted by: Larry Shudra
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It is important to stress to students the possibilities of continuing and building on their musical experience in middle, intermediate, and high school (and even beyond in college and community ensembles). There is a place for everyone in music after elementary school, whether it is in band, choir, or orchestra. Making sure students know what choices they have and what the instruments sound like alone and in an ensemble is important to their decision-making. It all boils down to the elementary music teacher setting the stage for middle school directors through ensuring students are aware of the possibilities. 

Submitted by: Cora Bigwood
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One to one discussion. Use the students that are excited about your choir to spread the word, sing at the middle school, outreach to the community. Sing at ball games, go the games, to many school functions.

Know your community, your school. What is the ethnic make up of the school or community? Are you honoring those cultures in your literature selection. Are you utilizing all of the wonderful teachers around you to enrich the students through THEIR expertise (i.e. history teacher, a language consultant, a poet, a theatre guru). Involve your parents, get their input, build a coalition of people that will support and help you grow in many ways beyond music.

Submitted by: Richard Bjella
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In a small school this is difficult. Often they think music will be a class that is a chance for them to play, but soon they learn that they will have to study music in a choir class. To encourage them I usually design a trip for choir students at the end of the year. Something fun.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Jernigan
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Do recruiting concerts and again, have existing band members talk to other students to encourage them and let them know how fun being in band can be.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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When you introduce a new concept, relate it to how they will use it when they are in middle school. Secondly, instruction on a pre-band instrument (recorder or other) helps greatly. When students are comfortable with eye-hand coordination in relation to notation, they are more likely to try it on another instrument. Finally, try to have former students come for a school visit to show off their new instruments, what the parts are, how to play them, etc. Seeing the “big kids” makes a difference.

Submitted by: Norm Sands
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band is required- we are a small school so during that period there is nothing else offered.

Submitted by: dan mccasland
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You should visit music elementary classes if possible. Do a big show and tell. When students visit middle school campus for orientation, play a short concert and re-introduce instruments. Let your students talk up the instruments. Have clipboards handy and sign them up with home phone so you can reach parents. Post flyers for auditions in elementary school halls. Send home invitations to parents and students so you can have confirmation of parental support.

Submitted by: David M. Rodriguez
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We have our 7th and/or 8th grade jazz band perform for each elementary feeder school. During the concert we recognize each athlete, cheerleader, and other multi-talented student who is also a band member. 

Submitted by: James Keltner
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I have our junior high students perform for the fifth graders, I make a presentation which is playful and informative, and I believe the “word of mouth” of friends
and family is also powerful.

Submitted by: Carlene Behmer
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We share our own experiences in those groups and show them that these groups do fun and exciting things. For band and orchestra, we have a collection of instruments and do a show-and-tell class to give them a taste of the different sounds and challenges they can enjoy in playing an instrument. Some years these strategies work and some years they do not. 

Submitted by: Nancy L. Bransom
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As a middle school director, I walked to every 6th grade classroom during the first two weeks of school. I give information about the band and all the great trips we take. Also I take pictures and video of the things we have done in previous years. 
After I build the interest, I allow each student to type his/her own name and parents phone number into my lap top and I spend the following weekend contacting every parent of these children informing them of the interest of their child. I invite them to meet with me personally and together we make it happen.

Submitted by: Osley Cook
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I have formed a working relationship with the middle school directors and they meets with all the students to encourage them to join their groups. We also have combined feeder program concerts.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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I put signs up all over the building about auditions one - two weeks before one of our performances. I pubilicize any awards, currents students that have been awarded for music or former students that have been given awards for their music performances. I also encourage the students who enjoy the class the most to go out and tell their friends about how much fun they are having. WE ALSO PLAY MANY MUSIC GAMES!! The kids love them!!! example: solfege bingo, trashkit ball, name that tune(solfege)etc.

Submitted by: Wanda Verdun
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I make sure they attend the “Cookies and Carols” recruiting event at one of the middle schools right before Christmas. I also have organized an elementary choir elective, and treat it just like middle school choir. I rearranged my Thursday class schedule to accomodate rehearsing during school, and they love it! (I asked 3 Thursday afternoon classes to split into fourths, and send one fourth on Monday, another on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. This open up Thursday afternoon for choir from 3 grade levels.) The teachers were happy to do it, and students may then opt to come to music AND choir, with PE only three times, instead of coming to music only once and PE four times. 
I also constantly “plug” band by comparing the ensemble playing we do in class to playing in band.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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In addition to the many listening exercises in the textbook, ie.,an excerpt from Star Wars with listening map, and many other orchestral and band works that are fun to listen to, every year I take our fifth graders to a performance given by The Houston symphony. With my background in percussion performance, I give instruction mostly in percussion as well as play snare drum or keyboard percussion for my fourth and fifth grade students. They really enjoy listening to me play and always ask about learning to play percussion or some other instrument. I tell them that they’ll have the oportunity when they get into Middle School. They get excited when I tell them that.

Submitted by: Phil Dembski
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I bring my combined middle school and high school orchestra to play for the 5th (and sometimes 4th) graders at the 3 feeder elementary schools for my middle school, in December. I present the orchestra program at 6th grade parent orientations held during the spring.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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I use this phrase regularly: “When you get to middle school, and you’re in the (band, choir, orchestra), you’ll
…….” I never say IF; always WHEN.

Submitted by: Winnell Chinn
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I teach all in my class. We have those 3 to come and sing/play for the 5th graders so that can be expose to all. I teach musical notes and learning notes so that they be well-learned in any of the three.

Submitted by: Janet Rowden
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(Source: tmea.org)

RSCM -Courses in the UK 2014 

Auditions for Cathedral Courses and Residentiary Choir

Entry to Cathedral Courses and the Residentiary Choir is by audition (see note above about availability for the Residentiary Choir).  Please contact the Education Administrator on education@rscm.com as a matter of urgency to arrange to attend an audition.

Audition content:

1. Range test for compass of voice.

2. Aural test for ability to pick out notes from common and cluster chords; to pitch an adjacent semitone to a single note; and then from a starting-point of a common chord in any inversion, e.g. this is C major (play), now please sing G#.

3a. Prepared item: Adults and ATBs on Cathedral Courses – their own voice-part of any one of the following, the auditioner playing a reduction of the whole score:
Bairstow – Jesu, the very thought of thee (go to online shop to purchase here)
Byrd – Sing joyfully (go to online shop to purchase here)
Harris – Holy is the True Light (go to online shop to purchase here)
Walton – A Litany (Drop, drop slow tears) (go to online shop to purchase here)

3b. Prepared item: Trebles - treble part of any one of the following: any movement from a choral anthem, canticle or Eucharist/Mass setting in their own choir’s repertoire. Unison anthems allowed.

The purpose of this part of the audition is to hear the singer’s ability to contribute confidently to a known item, so please prioritise security over complexity in the choice.

4a. Sight-reading and quick-learning (SATBs): The auditioner will give sight-reading of a standard just below that of the prepared anthem, and expect to offer some verbal guidance on any pitfalls and allowing a second, corrected attempt if required.  Speed of correction and understanding of the method are the criteria here.

4b. Sight-reading and quick-learning (trebles):  The auditioner will give a test of similar standard to Silver level, previewing it and allowing a second attempt with corrections pointed out if needed.

NB – speed of correction is the criterion for acceptance here, as the aural tests will reveal ability to deal with discords or difficult pitch-holding.

RSCM News: Anniversaries 

Celebrating church musicians’ and composers’ birth and death anniversaries

(Source: scphilharmonic)

Never undermine yourself by settling for mediocrity

Teaching AP Music Theory

Jessye Norman 

Jessye Norman is one of the most celebrated artists of our century. She is also among the most distinguished in a long line of American sopranos who refused to believe in limits, a shining member of an artistic pantheon that has included Rosa Ponselle, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price and now this daughter of Augusta, Georgia. “Pigeonholing,” said Norman, “is only interesting to pigeons.” Norman’s dreams are limitless, and she has turned many of them into realities in a dazzling career that has been one of the most satisfying musical spectacles of our time.

Essential Characteristics For a Music Teacher - ArtistshouseMusic 

:)

What Makes A Great Teacher?

“Good teachers are like expert acrobats,” says Wendy Sims, professor and director of music education at the University of Missouri–Columbia. “They are creative, quick-thinking and flexible, well-balanced, able to keep many plates spinning or balls in the air at the same time, good teammates, and dedicated to their art form.”

Sims adds that expert music educators “demonstrate a solid grasp of the fundamentals, and execute complex routines and artful performances with grace and style.”

Martin Bergee, a faculty member in music education at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, says that great teachers have three critical qualities:

  • a passionate and abiding commitment to help people of all ages learn, especially children and young people,
  • the ability to inspire and motivate people to learn, and
  • a deep, deep knowledge of one’s subject matter.

Both NAfME members, professors Sims and Bergee work with preservice and in-service teachers. Experience has taught them that the ability to listen with patience and compassion can also help make a person a better music teacher, parent, and human being.

– Ella Wilcox, originally posted April 9, 2008 © National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org).

(Source: musiced.nafme.org)

My friend Greg showed me this.

Adventures in Sacred Music: Wendi's Wailing From the Loft 

10 Common Mistakes Beginning Teachers Make 

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