Processing sound is one of the human brain’s most difficult jobs. The task involves multiple brain systems that need to be able to respond in microseconds. Over the history of human development, it has been important for survival to be able to instantly and precisely recognize the sound of a snapping twig or a crunching leaf when it’s dark.
Trying to keep track of all of your classes and ensembles is hard enough. Then concert planning time comes, and there is a sea of event planning details to remember as well. To try to make things easier, we’ve compiled a checklist of concert planning tasks, along with a few stories from the trenches that showcase ideas that worked and moments when things went unexpectedly wrong. First, here is the checklist. Follow the arrows to see the planning steps from beginning to end:
Two worlds collided for cellist Nicole Myers as she traveled back to her Pennsylvania high school to give a performance as a professional musician. She and her bandmates in a rock orchestra group called Cello Fury visited Ephrata High School on a rainy spring day for one of the many outreach concerts they do for schools. There she was greeted by her former cello teacher Galen Reed. Myers says Reed went above and beyond as an educator, including driving her to state orchestra events and supporting her work beyond high school.
J.W. Pepper talked to current and former teachers during one of our summer workshops to get some ideas for starting the school year right. Here are some of their thoughts on topics including class preparation and lesson planning in the weeks ahead:
Teaching middle school tends to be “the road less traveled” for many new music educators. Sometimes this can be due to a lack of targeted training for middle school music, but more often it’s a fear of not knowing how to work with the physical and psychological changes experienced by this age group. Thankfully, there are experienced mentors like Cristi Miller who are more than willing to help other teachers develop skills that work for their classrooms. Miller is a frequent clinician at choral workshops such as the Joy of Singing, and Pepper was able to sit down with her to talk about teaching, composing, and inspiring the next generation.
Sight reading is a wonderful assessment of musical literacy, but it can take time for students to learn this skill. This is why I advocate for having an organized and methodical plan to give students sight reading opportunities throughout the year. Over the course of my 26 years of teaching music in Texas, I have found that focusing time on sight reading each week has really paid off. First, the amount of preparation time for our formal concert literature has been reduced. Secondly, our performance quality has improved, providing a much deeper musical experience for the audience.
Most people know Leonard Bernstein as a world-renowned composer and conductor whose contributions to music and culture can be heard in concert halls around the world. Less known are his contributions to education, but they are no less impactful. Since the 1990s more than 250,000 students have been exposed to an educational method Bernstein created called Artful Learning®.
Over a period of two years, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has strengthened its partnership with an exciting program that is building connections between music educators. American Young Voices hosts the largest school choral concerts in the world in five cities for music students in grades 2 through 8 and their teachers.
Clinician, conductor, and composer Michael John Trotta is one of the bright young minds of modern choral music. His work has been performed at Carnegie Hall and featured at several national conferences, with recordings of his compositions broadcast worldwide. Pepper had the opportunity to sit down with Trotta to discuss his background, inspiration, views on education, and some of his most successful works. Continue Reading…
There’s an old joke that just about every musician has heard that starts, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The punch line, of course, is simply, “practice.” You are probably rolling your eyes at the moment, having known that joke for decades, but you also know that the truth is often said in jest – even if it’s not a particularly good jest.