Overall, I think our groups teaching went smoothly. However, there were several things we could have improved on. When we created our lesson plan I think we wrote it to be effective when there were more people in the class, so when we actually got to teaching we switched up the second part of our lesson plan and instead of breaking off into individual groups to learn melody, harmony, and rhythm, we just taught everyone all at once. I think we used good rehearsal techniques because the other group didn’t have a hard time learning the introduction and the main melody. They picked up each part of the song really quickly. We used the piano and a recording to help the students learn the song. I think playing the recording, singing it, then using the piano to figure out how to play on everyone’s instruments was a good way to sequence learning the song. It was effective because if someone was having trouble remembering the tune we could wind it back and play the recording. Something adaptive we used in our lesson was writing it out on the board so that the students who learn visually could have something to look at. Then because we have to continue our lesson next week we can just use this to review what we learned last week for those who are having trouble remembering what we talked about. We continued doing this throughout the lesson. The second part of the lesson involved learning the melody. I believed this part also went smoothly. The group didn’t have a hard time learning the tune, but they weren’t really feeling the music. We had them dance and move to the music without playing to get into the style of Funk. Then we added the instruments in again. I think this was affective because we addressed not only how to play the tune but also how to play in the style of the song. The next portion of the lesson was learning the harmony and rhythm. I think this portion was not prepared enough. I know we could have spent more time before the lesson preparing the harmony and rhythm we were going to teach. I think we could also have spent more time listening to the song to become more comfortable with it. If we were more solid ourselves then it would have been easier for the other group to understand. I think some things we could have done more of when planning was how to involve Jon more throughout the lesson. Since he already had all of the stems sequenced on his Gameboy he mostly sat there while everyone else learned their parts. While we did have him play the Gameboy along with other people, there was nothing to do before that. I think something else we could have done was create an activity for the group to do after we learned the aspects of the song. For example, we could have allowed the group to improv in between the introduction and first verse. Or we could have started with the rhythm and harmony after learning the introduction and had them improv before we learned the main melody. Overall, I think our lesson ran smoothly, however, there was more we could have done to prepare and involve more of the group.
Feedback for the other group:
I really liked the other group’s lesson plan. I enjoyed how they explored the different aspects of a song and had student’s explain each one to the other instead of them just talking to us. I also liked how they introduced us to different parts of the song by playing some various tunes and having us pick out different aspects of the song. I believe this led into the rest of their lesson well. However, I do think they could have applied what they taught more and had us play some of what they were teaching us instead of just explaining it.
This week I had the opportunity to observe a concert band class. This was definitely one of the most unique observation experiences i've had during my time at JMU. The first thing I noticed was how long it took students to set up and actually get their instruments out. They seemed to be in no rush to play, even though the teacher wanted to get started quickly. The teacher started off the rehearsal with long tones and scales. Instead of standing in front the of the room, she walked around and listened to individual players throughout the duration of the class. This was helpful because I think she was able to connect with the students more than if she just gave instructions from the podium the whole time. After a short warm up they got into the music they are working on for assessment. The first piece they worked on was a march. Something I really liked was that she had everyone play a spot in the song they had a similar rhythm. Then when she had everyone agreeing on style and articulation, she put it in the context of the piece. Since they are getting closer to assessment, she was trying to run larger sections. However, since students haven't really been practicing she kept having to stop and go over notes and rhythms. They also worked on another piece for assessment after the march. This one involved a lot of instruments having similar passages of sixteenth notes, so the teacher wrote out the same rhythm and notes for every instrument. When she played this particular part in the context of the piece, the students were having trouble with the notes. She had them pull out the sheet music and went over it measure by measure with the entire class. Then once most of the class could play it she put it in the context of the music. Even though she had to slow it down a lot for them to play all the right notes, they were all playing the correct rhythms now. A lot of what the teacher did related to what we are currently talking about in class about sequencing your lesson. Throughout the period, she went through sequences with each piece she worked.
There were a lot of things that surprised me throughout the class. First of all is how much talking went on. Students didn't seem to care if their instructor was talking, they thought their conversation was a lot more important. A number of them were on their phones throughout the duration of class, even the instructor had already told them a countless number of times to put them away. Lastly, there was some students that just decided they weren't going to play and ended up just sleeping during the class. This surprised me because I wasn't used to students who just didn't want to participate in class, or who were disruptive to an ensemble setting.
Overall, while there were some things about the students behavior that really surprised me, the teacher was able to get a good amount of work done on assessment music in the time she was given.
This week I observed the New Horizons band. It was very interesting to see how much differently this ensemble is run than the one’s I have participated in. For example, the player’s are able to help decide the repertoire they play for each concert. I know that we are just given pieces each semester and expected to learn them. This ensemble only meets once a week for about 2 hours, so there isn’t a lot of time to get the whole band to learn everything. However, I think the director uses the time he does have efficiently. His warm-up lead into the first piece they rehearsed. He was also able to address tuning and ensemble blend while having the group play a Bb chromatic scale, or an Eb scale.
One tool the director used throughout the rehearsal was singing. He sang rhythms, or pitches that the players were having trouble with. This provided players with a different way of hearing what they were trying to play. In some instances he had the members do air patterns along with him. I think this was smart because it was efficient than having them use instruments and have to worry about playing the right notes.
I think one thing that was frustrating during the rehearsal was when the group was going over what a whole tone scale was. There was no white board or anything to help them visually so it made it more challenging to the member’s who couldn’t understand what to play. I think it can be frustrating when one person is having understand what we are doing, but in this instance the director was patient and made sure that everyone understood what a whole tone scale was before he moved on.
Overall I enjoyed observing this group. The director was patient with all of the player’s and their questions/confusions. Lastly, instead of just focusing on playing the right notes, he was able to incorporate stylistic and rhythmic concepts in addition to just teaching rhythms.