Another week come and gone. I can’t believe it! Last week went by so quickly, but was so packed. Let’s review and reflect, shall we? I took the Praxis I exam, went to a senior recital, and saw a couple of my friends perform at the Pittsburgh Pops concert on Saturday. Environmental Science exam on Tuesday, Advanced Choral Conducting Rehearsal on Thursday, working the Federation Festival and the debut performance of our Jazz Combo on Saturday, a Senior Recital on Sunday, Music History exam and Children’s Theater’s first tech rehearsal on Monday, and Choral rehearsal plan today.
I don’t really understand how it’s ok for the Praxis to cost so much money. I was sad about that. Being a music education major is not a cheap experience. All of the lesson and education fees are crazy. Do what I have to do I guess. I know this is what I am meant to do, and I haven’t regretted any part of this.
In Advanced Choral Conducting, we had to write a rehearsal plan and “rehearse” the class for 15 minutes on the piece of our choice. I chose David Mennicke’s Down in the River to Pray. Such a good spiritual, a capella SATB piece. I accomplished all that I meant to. I think it went decently well. I haven’t heard any professor feedback on it yet though. We’ll see. I like the practice that we’re getting as nerve-racking as it is. I get more nervous with my peers than I think I would with another group. That’s a good test though. I really enjoy my methods class as well. Writing lesson plans and doing all of these projects may weigh me down, but they are great preparation for student teaching and hopefully once I get a job.
The Federation Festival on Saturday went very well. It was great to see so many kids of all ages coming to play. There were hundreds of kids who came to campus to play and be judged/scored. Their private teachers receive the scores and comments. That night, our new Jazz Combo debuted. It went very well, I think. I’m playing electric bass for the group. My fingertips now are getting quite callused. I’m somewhat proud of that actually. Haha.
Amongst all of these fun and games, Music History still looms. Exam mostly on the Romantics (Beethoven through Wolf). So. Much. Information. I think I know the information. After reviewing my exam, I didn’t put enough details in my essays.
Thursday in Methods brought Travis Weller from Mercer High School to talk about music education. (You can follow him on twitter @travisjweller). Brief overview from my class notes on the 5 Areas of Study for Pre-Services Teachers:
1) Planning and Preparation-daily preparation is necessary. Don’t just wait until game time to try to be great. Put the work in 24/7 and don’t be afraid to do what you are asking your students to do. “Excellence is a way, not a destination.”
2) Professional Responsibility-students need to see both professional and human sides to you. Music educators have to take on all aspects of our job. W. Francis McBeth said, “Don’t forget why you became a musician. It was because of a love affair with sound. It was not a love affair with organization, techniques, or competition, no matter how commendable these efforts may be. A musical experience has no substitute; and when it is experienced by the band, the conductor, and the audience, it is desired above all else.” I think that is a fantastic quote that we need to remember.
3) Knowledge of Music Repertoire and Pedagogy-keep a repertoire list of pieces performed in the past and what you thought of them…it will help tremendously! Unlike other subjects, there is no set textbook curriculum for band or choir…the score is the textbook. Be sure to be out there listening to other groups and performers. Learn from those around you.
4) Music Advocacy-be consistent, but emphasize different parts of your program depending on who is listening. Don’t be afraid to be involved and take on all aspects of music leadership. Involve the community in your program, and they will also advocate for you by your side.
5) Building Program Success-Think not only about how kids get down, but think about how they get back up. Don’t give up on your students…encourage them always…don’t let them get discouraged out of music. Having every student in a chamber group of some kind is a great way to elevate their performance level. Smaller groups are easier to take into the community as well. You can’t teach an ensemble the same every year; things like instrumentation and level of playing change. Something good to tell students is, “Don’t do something detrimental to yourself or as a musician.”
It was a great guest lecture for class.
Tomorrow a small group of us is going to Bucknell University for a World Music/Dalcroze workshop. I’m really excited about it, and hope to have a full report next week!
In the mean time, let’s all hope I get some sleep this week (unlike the past couple of weeks) for the sanity of those around me. Working on the final draft of my Music History paper, and Children’s Theater is next weekend!