Helping each student develop a sense of relative pitch can dramatically improve your ensemble’s intonation. One common technique to help instrumentalists internalize relative pitch is to have them sing. Incorporating singing into your rehearsal is a great technique, but students shouldn’t lose sight of the final learning goal: to improve their intonation.
Teachers work hard to make sure that beginning instrumentalists develop a strong sense of internal pulse. Framing this learning objective for students in your lesson plan can help make sure that they understand the goal. Better yet, framing can help you check for student understanding and lead to a more efficient rehearsal.
Yesterday, we discussed framing the lesson as a two-part process for giving students a clear map and goal for each lesson. Making students aware of their goal at the beginning of the rehearsal – and showing how they accomplished that goal at the end – helps engage students and ensures you’re teaching to standards.
No matter what the journey is, we all benefit from knowing where we are headed, are reassured by directional signs along the way, and appreciate a “you have arrived at your destination” affirmation at the end of the drive!
Similarly, students will learn more – and perform at higher levels – when they have these kinds of markers in a lesson.
Student practice is at its most effective when students are able to assess it themselves. Helping students to become active, engaged participants in their own assessment creates empowered learners – and develops ear training skills to boot. Self-assessment can also create independent learners who are eager for new challenges on their instruments.
Students who practice wrong notes and rhythms at home bring those mistakes to class. Often you will spend more time getting them to unlearn those wrong notes than if you’d just spent the time spoon-feeding them the right notes in the first place.
Teaching students how to practice means teaching them to assess their own playing.
For better or worse, teachers spend a lot of time measuring students. This measurement is necessary to ensure that effective teaching and learning are happening in each classroom. Ultimately, assessment is about making sure that students meet instructional standards. Testing for testing’s sake isn’t productive. Instead, good assessment should ensure that student learning is measured in a way that helps both students and teachers improve.
Assessment of student learning is at the heart of effective teaching. Understanding student performance, diagnosing what was done well, what has yet to be improved, and providing specific feedback to students has the potential to significantly improve your music program in very real and meaningful ways. Assessment data can become an integral component of improving any music program if it addresses learning outcomes that are clear and focuses on the aspects of student performance that are most important.
Marketing your music program can help make sure that parents and administrators can see the value of your program, build community relationships (including with local businesses), and improve your fundraising efforts. Whether your motivation is to show everyone why music education matters, or to simply improve your relationship with your administration, marketing is a vital part of your role.
Fostering a cooperative learning environment while also addressing state standards and preparing concert repertoire can be a difficult task. Using a rehearsal for sectionals can accomplish all three goals while also improving your students’ ability to assess their own playing.
We’ve built a free lesson plan you can use to guide student-led sectionals.