Thursday, June 26, 2008

Week Two

What? It's over already?? That went far too quickly, methinks. Week two of summer band just flew by, and I've been left thinking a couple things...

First, I love this job.

Second, so far in my education classes, they've taught us absolutes - always establish procedures on the first day. Never lose your temper. All that. Still, I'm surprised at how much of a balancing act teaching is, not to say that I didn't get some idea of this in my classes - it's just that it's never the same when you're actually out teaching.

For example, I have one student whose teacher had him switch instruments three times within his first year of playing. He's only been on his current horn for about a month, and he's in a class with kids who have been playing for a year or two. He gets picked on by other kids, he doesn't get much slack cut from a sibling of his, and he has social disorders that make concentration neigh unto impossible. Is it any wonder that his self-efficacy is just about zero in regards to anything relating to music? Now, he's in the same class as one of the best musicians in the program. Keeping them both interested and invested in the lesson is not an easy task.

Similarly, there's one kid who seems to have a grudge against the world. He loves getting into arguments and people love getting into arguments with him. It's all I can do to keep the class from spiraling into disorder, much less rehearse songs that half the class doesn't like. If anyone knows any pieces like Bryce Canyon Overture but for one grade level higher, please let me know! Anyway, happy story with this kid - today, he brought in something that he had been lacking, and not only did he share it, but he offered to share it! I'm trying to think of the best way to thank him...

Also, I'm finding that group lesson balancing doesn't always have to do with skill or behavior - there's one kid who's coming to band a year late and is with the kids a year behind him; he's doing fine, but he's simply more mature in a lot of ways. A fun game is keeping the younger kids' attention while not losing him. There's only a year in difference, though, so the game is on "easy" mode.

Third, I love this job.

Fourth, I've been thinking a lot about how dropoff I've seen in music ed programs would be affected if students got to do stuff like this right off the bat - we've all seen people quit not because of the students but because music theory was hard or there was some departmental stuff going on even if they would have made fantastic teachers in practice. I feel like everything is backwards - first you go through all the drudgery and hard work, then you go out and teach and see if you like it - and that perhaps if it was the other way around, the people who decided to stick with it would have that to strengthen their resolve when facing 20th-century music theory and those things which are rarely used in a classroom. After all, I don't know about you, but I've got a lot more motivation to do things for my students than for my profs. (I still like you, profs!)

Fifth, I found today that the art of teaching is the art and timing of lighting fires under kids' butts - giving them motivation. I kicked it into high gear a little earlier than I have for my class of beginning trumpet players today - they still have to add a forth to their range by next week (up to C5) and if I did my job today, they'll be doing lip slurs and sirens and note flashcards every day this weekend. And if they do that, the rest of the program is going to be really, really fun.

Finally, I love this job. :)

Have a great weekend,

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