I think my experience at Stone Spring Elementary school was one of the best classrooms I have observed this semester. Their focus today was on rhythms, and at the end of class they worked on solfege. The started off with music and the students stood in a circle and figured out the “big beats” of different songs. This was a good exercise because it showed that they could find the tempo in a song and keep a consistent beat with the music. What I liked about Mrs. Miragliotta is how many different games she had to keep the students engaged. They students loved singing while they were playing games. However, I think sometimes the students were more focused on the games and running and having a turn that they would forget the singing. The teacher was very patient throughout the whole class, especially at the end when they were getting restless and their attention was wavering. The class and the students were able to hear rhythms and given choices pick out which was the correctly written rhythm. They were also given the choice of two very close rhythms and the teacher would clap one rhythm and they would have to determine which of the rhythms it was. They were also able to hear solfege and repeat it back to the teacher. I think this is very good for a third grade class because when they were focused and listening they were able to distinguish between different rhythms easily. Another exercise the teacher did that I think was awesome was they all sat in a big circle and it started with them just repeating the teachers rhythms, however, then they were able to make up their own rhythms that the whole class had to repeat.
One thing I didn’t realize was just how many activities the teacher has to come up with for each class. Since student’s attention spans, especially in younger children, are short you have to change up activities to keep them engaged. Also, a lot of the activities involved moving or some sort of body engagement because have the students moving and doing something.
Overall Mrs. Miragliotta was a very engaging teacher. She had various activities that engaged the students and helped them understand rhythms, distinguish between different rhythms, and they were able to repeat solfege. She was very patient when her students lost their focus, and got them back on track. This practicum was very informed, and offered a different approach to teaching general music then I went through in Elementary school, and have experienced before.
After reading Benedict’s chapter on different methods and strategies in the classroom, I feel like I am well informed about different approaches I can use in my classroom.
The first approach discussed was Emile Jaques -Dalcroze who talks about connecting music through the body. He starts with rhythm and using the body to help students understand rhythm. Once, they have that down, he’ll start to add in music. This approach is still confusing to me, I am unsure as to how he is incorporating music and body movement to help to teach solfege. Is he using body movements, or solfege symbols?
Another approach described is Kodaly’s. He uses hand signals created during the Renaissance period to teach solfege. Similar toe Jaques-Dalcroze’s system, they start the students with learning pitches. They then slowly teach and add different pitches, adding one in at a time. I think this is good because the student’s will have mastered rhythm before they even think about pitches.
I think the approach I connected with the most, and found the most interesting was Orff’s because it can be used for all sorts of grade levels, and for any type of musician. It is good so general music because it provides the students with a way to discover music, without just being given notes on a page and worksheets. This allows learners who need the hands on approach to discover and figure out solfege through trial and error.
Another approach comes from Shinichi Suzuki. He believes that everyone is born with raw talent, and there is a specific approach to handling it so everyone can live up to that talent. His approach involves private lessons. The parents of the students actually sit in on the first couple months and learn alongside their child. He has his students learn by listening to recordings and going to concerts before they even think about note reading. This is similar to Orff’s approach, although he uses improvisation as well as listening to start to develop musicianship. One thing that is different about Suzuki’s approach is that when student’s masters a piece they move on, but when they learn new concepts in the new repertoire they will go back to what they have already learned and apply it. I like this because it applies what they are learning and connects it to music they’ve already learned so it takes it one step further.
Edward Gordon’s music learning theory is similar to Suzuki’s because he believes that everyone has the potential and aptitude to learn music. However, Gordon goes a step further to explain how someone’s race, economic status, and where they grew up/the environment they grew up in can all affect their ability to truly and understand music. However, as you get older your ability to learn music and understand it diminishes as you age. This theory is different from everything I learned in this chapter because it goes more behind what can affect music learning rather then a method you can use to teach students and help them understand.
This chapter was very insightful and helped me understand different methods and approaches to teaching people music and rhythm and solfege.
Elkton Middle School Practicum
I learned a lot from my visit to a Middle School technology class. This was the teachers first year teaching this technology class, so while he has a basic outline of what he wants to do with his students, since this class is new he can try out a bunch of different technologies and assignments and see which works better. I think his class ran very smoothly, and for most of the class the students were engaged.
He started the class in his classroom, and he explained how to put their tracks in Ableton together so it was one coherent song, instead of stopping in between tracks. I think the fact that he had his own song, and he was demonstrating before the students actually went and did was effective because he made sure they understood it before they moved into the computer lab. Also, the fact that they went over it before they moved to the computer lab was good because the students were distracted, and could focus on what he was saying.
After everything was explained the class moved into the computer lab so they could work on their own projects. For the duration of the class they worked silently and independently, and occasionally asked questions.
I think what made his teaching so effective was how patient he was. Before the class started, the students were a little rowdy, but he didn’t ever raise his voice. I think this is much more effective in the long run then yelling, especially since it seemed that he had the student’s respect.
What I really enjoy about this class is that it’s available for everyone. There were 2 students who are autistic and they are still able to take the class. The teacher didn’t treat them any different from anyone else in the class, so I had no idea there were people in the class until he pointed it out. I think this is good because it goes along with Dr. Hammels label-free approach because he didn’t isolate the students or treat them any differently, he approached each student in similar ways.
He told us that he was trying to get the students to DJ a school dance toward the end of the year. I think that this could be effective because it allows students to see the practical application of what they are creating and learning in the classroom. This is also good because they are able to collaborate and make something that they can perform other then classical music.
Overall, I enjoyed observing this class. It gave students the opportunity to create music using new technology. It is open to kids other then the one’s in band and chorus. They have/will have the opportunity for a practical engagement, and to give a concert with pop music that their peers can enjoy. Lastly, I think that this class is good for being in its first year, and with some minor improvements and new exercises/technologies the class will continue to be a success.