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Ways to Do More Than Just Survive Your First Year of Teaching
An undergraduate music education professor once told a class of future music educators that the ideal job for first-year teachers was in a program that need to be rebuilt. His reasoning: anything a new teacher can do, as long as they do it correctly, is a step in the right direction. …
Help! I Can Teach Music, but How Do I Get My Students to Sit Still and Listen?
Much thought has gone into preparing new teachers to develop effective classroom management skills. Programs in music education address this issue by asking students to read about it, reflect on it, write about it, discuss it, observe master teachers demonstrating it, and ultimately try their hand at it during student teaching. But this simply isn't enough …
The String Teacher as Arranger
As music teachers, we are constantly developing and reevaluating our curricula for teaching strings. Whether our student is a budding virtuoso in a private lesson or an at-risk student in a school orchestra classroom, our pedagogical choices dictate what musical experiences they will gain. Unfortunately, it seems as though the best strategies for teaching require …
10 Strategies for Developing a Strong Student Practice Ethic
How many times have we heard, “My orchestra could do so much more if only my students practiced their music.” The good news is that there is not magic or luck in getting your students to practice. Below are concreate steps that teachers take to improve the practice habits of their students. Of course, …
Achieving an Artistic Violin Vibrato
Vibrato is an essential musical element in string instrument playing that enhances and facilitates expressive performance. However, the acquisition of a beautiful vibrato remains one of the most difficult skills for a young string player to obtain and for instructors to teach. There are many reasons that vibrato is a difficult skill to master.…
Developing Critical Thinking and Assessment in Music Classrooms
The increased importance and emphasis on standardized testing have affected the classroom expectations of music educators. More and more music teachers are asked to incorporate reading and writing into their curriculum. Since many public schools in the United States are having difficulties meeting testing …
Advancing Strategies for Teaching Orchestras to Tune Themselves
Consider this: The only daily one-on-one instruction many students receive is the moment the teacher takes to tune their instruments. If teachers took only a few extra seconds with each child, student playing positions and tone quality would improve greatly over the course of a year. And with better …
Motivational Teaching Tools
During my first several years of teaching, I noticed a big motivational shift between fourth and fifth grade strings students. The fourth grade students found the instruments new and exciting and the lessons really interesting. However, once they graduated from the fourth grade and started to participate in fifth …
Start the year a better conductor: Five areas to evaluate
Conducting technique is important for several reasons. As a nonverbal teaching skill, it can save valuable rehearsal time when executed clearly and succinctly. Together with instrumental technique and musicianship, learning to respond to increasingly intricate conducting gestures is an important curricular responsibility for ensemble directors...
Starting an orchestra program
The orchestra program in Rockwall Independent School District (RISD), Rockwall, Texas is flourishing. The program began with a little more than 150 students in fifth and sixth grades at 12 elementary schools in the RISD. It has grown to include all of RISD’s elementary and secondary schools with approximately a 1,000 students in...
Get your string class up and running in 10 minutes or less
The start of any string class presents many obstacles that can prevent a rehearsal from running smoothly. More often than not broken instruments, stuck pegs, broken bows and out-of-tune instruments can prevent a teacher from beginning a rehearsal. Establishing effective procedures for a string class can be a difficult task, but such procedures are...
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