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.