This is Mary's first year in the ArtsEducator 2.0 program. Mary currently works as a band director at Albert Gallatin South middle school. She is married and has a daughter. In her spare time she enjoys playing in musicals, being outdoors, and riding her motorcycle.

Bringing the Band into the 21st Century

One of my ongoing projects this year has been the implementation of a band website. I would say this has been a successful addition, although it could be made better through easier access. If you would like to check it out here is a direct link: Albert Gallatin South Band Screen_shot_2011-05-11_at_11.04.36_PM.png
Also, I’ve been focusing a lot on self-assessment. To that end, I recorded (audio only) my students playing all the way through a piece we had been working on for the first time. It was interesting to see how the level of concentration instantly went up when they were being recorded. The nice thing was being able to immediately play it back for them and start inviting feedback. With a little prodding, they were able to tell where the major areas of concern were. I would share a clip of the audio, but my students made me promise that I would not. We also did a lot of "paperwork" this year in the form of self-assessment. These were nice activities to do the day after a performance, while the memories were still fresh. Here are a few examples of student responses. _MG_5064.JPG_MG_5063.JPG

Just found a great resource for many things, but especially rubrics. I stumbled across this kind of by accident as I was searching for a rubric for our upcoming talent show. Here is a link to the website: Rcampus You can sign up for free, and either create or use someone else’s rubric. You also have full editing capabilities, so I found a talent show rubric I liked, changed a couple of things so it fit our needs and in less than 10 min. I was done. I have only barely explored the rubric section of the website, but it appears that you can do all kinds of things with your classroom on there. Take a look!

iMovie class

The iMovie class at the Apple store went really well! I feel soooooo much better about being able to use this tool. It has some really awesome capabilities, and having someone right there to show step-by-step made it easy. One of the first questions I asked was about importing from other sources. It’s an easy step; just drag and drop into iPhoto! The only caveat is that iMovie does not play nice with Sony. If you took pics or video with a Sony camera, please put it on a flash drive and it should be ok. I guess now we need to start thinking about how long we want our video to be and the order of events. Getting excited!

Is there a lack of creativity in band?

The other day, Cory and I were discussing some of the main components of our question and pondering which area I felt had been most affected. As I thought about each area, it occurred to me that the area where I felt I had done the least was creativity. Even though music, as an art form, is very creative, reproducing music as we do in a typical concert band (notice I didn’t say jazz) setting really is not. Concert band is more a land of structure and order. You must play the correct note at the correct time with the correct articulation and dynamic level in order to reproduce what the composer intended. Where is there room for creativity here? I’m struggling with this. I think the students are beginning to become more actively involved in rehearsal through self-assessment and instant feedback, but they really aren’t creating anything new. Some ideas for the future include (obviously) creating a jazz band where improvisation can be taught and encouraged. Perhaps improvisation could begin in some warm-ups? Does anyone have any other suggestions???

My name is Mary, and I’m a band geek.

Ok, REALLY cool moment today, but you have to bear with my band geekiness really coming out here. Back in the fall we played the march “His Honor” by Henry Fillmore for the Homecoming parade. I liked the march, but decided to do a new one for spring and our Memorial Day parades. I settled on a march called “Summit March” by Harold Bennett. I really liked it, but the trio section was lacking the usual “noodling” that you hear in the flutes and clarinets. So, I promised my flutes and clarinets I would write something more exciting for them to play there and started doing a little research. WELL, in my research I discovered that Harold Bennett was the pen name sometimes used by Henry Fillmore!!! Same guy!!! Then I got to thinking that MAYBE the trio section of “His Honor”, which contained a really nice part for my flutes and clarinets that they could already play, would fit into the “Summit March”. We tried it today and it was GREAT!!! Typically when you get to the trio section of a march you play it softly the first time with little to no brass, then let ‘er rip the second time with lots of brass and woodwinds playing tons of notes. So we played the “Summit March” as written the first time through the trio, then on the repeat the flutes and clarinets switched to the trio section from “His Honor”. It fit perfectly! Same key, same chord progression, sounded like it was supposed to be like that. The flutes and clarinets were VERY excited about this (one even exclaimed “I love you!” after the first time trying it), so of course I whipped out the Q3 and we did it again! What a fun day in band! So maybe, just maybe, we were a little bit creative today……
Using the iPad in BandOne of the fun challenges this year has been learning to use, and then incorporate a brand new piece of technology into our teaching. Of course that new technology is the iPad. At the time of this writing, the iPad 2 is now out there and new Apps are being developed at breakneck speed. Keeping up with what is new can be VERY challenging, and often when our group gets together we find ourselves talking about the latest Apps. Finding Apps specifically for band, that are practical to use everyday in rehearsal, was challenging for me. However, there are a few that I have found to be very helpful. First, I found RainbowNotes. This is a fun way to get your beginning band students to work on note naming. There are 4 different styles to choose from and you can adjust whether the student sees only treble, bass, or a mix of both clefs. You can also adjust the number of notes that are given and the amount of time they have to respond. During small group lessons I have been able to put one, two or even three students on RainbowNotes while I work with someone else. It also lets you quickly give a student a refresher course on note naming if it becomes obvious they are having trouble. Here are three of my beginner flutes taking turns.
Next is a picture of the overwhelming favorite style. They like it when the little squirrel comes out to eat the acorn note. I love the fact that they forget that I am actually drilling note names with them. _MG_5072.jpgHere are a few other Apps that I use almost daily. I like to use Tempo2 for my metronome. I did a little research to find what seemed to be the most accurate metronome out there (currently) and this one was highly recommended. There are plenty of free ones too, which would probably be fine. _MG_5070.jpgMy most recent discovery is this handy tuner. I love the fact that I have a metronome and tuner (among dozens of other things) in one handy package!_MG_5071.JPGThis final App has been sitting on my iPad for awhile, but I haven't really utilized it's potential yet. This is a rhythm game that requires the player to correctly tap the presented rhythm in tempo with the metronome. I've also noticed that this App gets upgraded often, so the number of rhythmic patterns available is constantly growing. I've had a few students try out this app, but I'm working out a way to use it with the whole band._MG_5073.jpg

Movin' On Up

Assessing Teaching and Learning with the LOTI/HEAT Scale
  • Higher-Order Thinking Look-Fors
    • Students taking notes only; no questions asked
    • Student learning/questioning at Remembering level
    • Student learning/questioning at Understanding level
    • Student learning/questioning at Applying level
    • Student learning/questioning at Analyzing level
    • Student learning/questioning at Evaluating/Creating levels

  • Engaged Learning Look-Fors
    • Students report what they have learned only
    • Students report what they have learned only; collaborate with others
    • Students given options to solve a teacher-directed problem
    • Students given options to solve a teacher-directed problem; collaborate with others
    • Students collaborate to define the task, the process, and/or the solution
    • Students collaborate to define the task, the process, and/or the solution; collaboration extends beyond the classroom

  • Authentic Connections Look-Fors
    • The learning experience is missing or too vague to determine relevance
    • The learning experience provides no real world application, or represents a group of connected activities
    • The learning experience provides limited real world relevance
    • The learning experience provides extensive real world relevance
    • The learning experience provides real world relevance and opportunity for students to apply their learning to a real world situation
    • The learning experience is directly relevant to students and involves creating a product that has a purpose beyond the classroom that directly impacts the students

  • Technology Use Look-Fors
    • No technology use is evident
    • Technology is used only by the teacher
    • Student technology use appears to be an add-on and is not needed for task completion
    • Student technology use is somewhat connected to task completion
    • Student technology use is directly connected to task completion with shared or limited resources
    • Student technology use is directly connected to task completion with one-to-one or unlimited resources

Ok, I think I’ve warmed up a bit on this scale! First the “H” factor. I think that my students have progressed, just not necessarily all of them to the same degree. I would say the more advanced players are moving through the Applying level and are starting to Analyze more. A couple of them are even beginning to evaluate better. Considering most of them were stuck at the the remembering level, I think this is a big improvement. I think this has come about through more questioning during rehearsal, asking for their immediate feedback, and asking questions that begin with “What do you think is…….” They are more comfortable sharing their answers now too. For “Engaged”, I think in my situation (band) I’m looking for more participation and also more advanced students helping others. Sometimes it’s hard to step back and let the “tutoring” happen, but it tells me that the students know they are expected to participate fully, and that those around them also WANT them to participate fully. That kind of leads to the next part which is “Authentic Connections”. I think the most applicable thing to the “real world” in band is the reward of positive feedback during a concert after putting in the hours of hard work. This means even more after the students have spent time evaluating themselves along the way and keeping track of their progress. Self-assessment has been a big part of our rehearsals this year and I think has made the students much more aware of many things that they had never noticed before. Finally, “Technology”. Our biggest increase in technology use has been the creation of the band website. This now allows the students to listen to their pieces whenever they can get on the internet, and even play along. I know that MANY of them have taken advantage of this and it’s helped increase the speed in which we are able to learn new pieces. It’s so much easier when they have listened and have an idea of what the finished product is supposed to sound like! It’s also been a very useful reference when talking about balance, intonation, tone, dynamics, etc. The students have easy access to an excellent example of what they are striving for. There are other resources on the site as well (free online metronome, etc.) but those don’t seem to have been utilized as much. I also use the iPad in rehearsals for a metronome, so some kind of technology is used in band almost every day. Sadly, our projector did not come in soon enough to utilize the document camera and other things, but there is always next year.