College Methods: a New Approach

Ted Scalzo Blog Post

After 36 years in the classroom teaching band, marching band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, composition, and multimedia I have come to the conclusion that college preparation for our field is in need of change. I currently teach a class at Hofstra University on the utilization of technology in the classroom for future music educators. This has inspired me to give considerable thought to this topic.

I believe that SmartMusic should be adopted by all schools of higher learning that are preparing our future music educators. I realize that this will seem like another shameless promotion for a product, but the difference here is that I use SmartMusic in this context and I have seen how it can work.

Among the many expectations we place on future educators, we require them to:

  • Sight-sing and sight-read
  • Take lessons on secondary instruments
  • Perform at a very high level on their primary instrument
  • Perform in ensembles including chorus, orchestra, band and jazz band

SmartMusic includes tools created to assist development in each of these areas plus a means for instructors to document related progress.

Imagine requiring future music educators to submit a performance piece on their secondary instruments in their college methods classes, to be evaluated by the professor and added to the student’s portfolio to be shared at the next job interview.

Imagine students practicing their secondary band instruments with the actual literature they will be expected to know and teach. Smart Music will help prepare them to step into the classroom with the skills and repertoire knowledge that has taken many of us years to develop. They will benefit from accelerated learning utilizing our most powerful teaching concept: deliberate practice.

Imagine an assignment for conducting class where students playback a professional accompaniment and record a video of themselves conducting the piece, then sending it to the professor as homework and evaluation.

My plan for nation-wide adoption would be something like this:

  • Every student gets a copy of SmartMusic to be used all four years
  • Each professor has a teacher subscription
  • All classes are listed
  • Students enroll as they sign up for each class
  • Assignments can be seen in SmartMusic allowing students to go at their own pace
  • Additional assignments can be added as the class develops through the semester
  • A four year portfolio of work is stored in the cloud and made available as a report for future employers to review. A SmartMusic certification program at each school could be an added benefit that further supports that this graduate is well prepared for today’s music student.

I realize there are some professors and institutions already doing much of this. I encourage them to add their voices to this conversation and start the change that is necessary to bring music education to the next level.

I would love the opportunity to continue this initial dialogue. If you’re interested in participating in the discussion, please contact me at [email protected].

Ted ScalzoTed Scalzo is a veteran teacher of 36 years, including 29 years as the band director at Bay Shore High School in Long Island, New York. His wind and jazz ensembles have received numerous awards. Ted has used Finale to arrange for marching band since version 1.0, and taught music composition/theory and a multimedia class that he designed for Bay Shore students. A fervent advocate of technology in the classroom, Ted was honored as an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2005, was twice appointed to the NYSSMA Music Technology Committee, and teaches a course on music education technology at Hofstra University.

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