Friday, July 5, 2013

The Benefits of Clinicians

Watching a clinician at work
is like seeing a skilled surgeon
in action. It's awesome.
The term "clinic" is so appropriate to band for what it is. You bring in an expert to diagnose the
problems your band is having, prescribe solutions, and set your band on the path to healthy playing and ensemble skills. Kids love working with a guest conductor, but I think I gain as least as much out of it as the students do (if not more). It's hard to believe that anyone out there would not bring in guests to work with their band, but I assume that happens because almost every time I go to a convention there is at least one session on the benefits of clinicians. People compliment the job I'm doing pretty regularly, but even so I feel like I owe so much of that success to the expert teachers that we bring in to work with the students. For me, the more clinicians the better. And when you find a good clinician, your band will experience explosive growth in just one rehearsal! So why does it work that way? What are the benefits to you and your students? And if you've never used a clinician, how do you find one?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Success Comes in Many Forms

I hope to keep this blog short and sweet. It's both a reflection of my second year of teaching, but also it
might help some of you who have had a frustrating year as well. Maybe you've been here before.

It's been a tough year! In many ways my first year of teaching was more successful than my second year. In my first year I was at a "one man gig" and was responsible for everything from 1st grade to high school (7-12) band. Marching season was a huge misstep of over programming and knowing too little about how to teach it, but concert season went much better, with a 1st Division in Concert and a 2nd Division in Sight Reading. This year I only had to teach band classes in a larger program (and okay, a math class, too), and I was part of a duo. My responsibility here is the Middle School, which we split into two bands, and I took the top band to UIL. We earned a 2nd Division in Concert and a 3rd Division in Sight Reading. On top of that I was less organized all year. The beginners turned out much better this year, but I felt unsuccessful in turning around the band in the same way that I turned around the band at my first job. What happened? Was I a worse teacher, or should I accept that success comes in many forms?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ear Training for Beginners (Plus "InTune!" App Review!)

One thing I neglected my first year of teaching was devoting time to ear training. I was probably overwhelmed as it was, but really it's not difficult to incorporate this critical musical skill. We want our student musicians to have discerning ears. You can start this right from the beginning of the year. Here are a few of the things I did this past year. I feel like it's resulted in more musically intelligent students.

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