Dr. Alice Hammel remembers when Vinnie started school. He had frequent outbursts and struggled throughout most of his elementary school years; eventually, he was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Dr. Hammel, who is a nationally recognized expert on teaching music to children of all ages with special needs, said Vinnie was unusual in that he could not match pitch – at all.
J.W. Pepper would like to thank all the musicians and teachers who shared their time and expertise with us in 2018, making it possible for Cued In to cover meaningful stories. Here is a countdown of the 2018 blog articles viewed by the most people. Click the arrow to move through the slides, and click on the image if you’d like to read an article you missed:
You, like many music teachers, may have a set of handchimes in the instrument cabinet of your classroom that have been sitting for years. Now’s the time to open the case and put those handchimes into the hands of your students for successful music-making.
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.