Block scheduling is just one of the many types of scheduling methods we see in schools today. There are even many variations of block scheduling, but a typical example might be for a performance class to meet for 90 minutes every other day, for a total of five class periods over two weeks.
Having taught with this schedule at both the high school and middle school, I believe one of the biggest obstacles it presents is that students receive intermittent reinforcement of what is being taught. Add on top of this the real-life interruptions of bad weather, assemblies, testing schedules, etc., and it’s not uncommon for you to meet only three times in two weeks. Arranging extra rehearsals with students is almost mandatory.
SmartMusic and the Gradebook can be very beneficial in this situation. Whether you select concert literature supported in SmartMusic or enter .MP3 files of other pieces, you can create assignments for your students for the pieces you’re rehearsing. What’s more, you can evaluate their progress by reviewing the assignments they submit. When students can continue to improve their skills between class sessions by practicing with SmartMusic, you can have more productive rehearsals even under the most trying conditions.
As an example, I’d like to offer an experience I had with a middle school group of 7th and 8th graders I was preparing for state evaluation. Both classes were on a block schedule and never met as a full group during the regular school day. Prior to our first after-school rehearsal as a full group, I had all the students practicing the literature with SmartMusic.
At our very first full rehearsal, we made it through all three pieces with no stops or breakdowns! If you are a teacher you know what an accomplishment this was. What made it possible? Because of our work with SmartMusic, the entire group already had a sense of the pieces before we began. Because we already had a grasp of the notes, we were able to concentrate on the music!
If SmartMusic can help in this situation, imagine what it can offer to those fortunate enough to meet with your groups every day.