Favorite Tech for the Band Room
Here is an overview of tech we use to make our lives a bit more streamlined and enhance student learning.
We have a classroom set of 25 iPad minis the Traughber Band Boosters purchased for us in 2017 with fundraising money.
Classroom management system that pairs with Google Drive
Sets up as a sophisticated online Student Plan Book
Available to schools or districts that use Google Apps for Education
Excellent for recorded playing assessments
Daily Rehearsal Slide Template with Countdown Timer
Include learning targets and objectives
Long term record of all lessons and shared info
Create surveys, quizzes (self grading), or event registration.
We also use this for Weekly Theory Tests and to collect information for Parent Volunteers.
Results are sent to a spreadsheet.
Group texting app designed for educational use
Keeps phone numbers private
Interactive study sets, flashcards and games
Premade sets available
Game Style learning
Download data and view results
Note Names App
NoteNames+ tackles one of the most serious roadblocks for young musicians: The ability to instantly recognize the names of notes.
The only comprehensive instrument mastery app! Students on every instrument will learn NOTES, FINGERINGS & RHYTHMS through exciting gameplay.
A subscription based rhythm system.
Easy to use on-line music notation program
Six Strategies for Classroom Management
We see 425 band students every day and have very few discipline issues or distractions during class. Below are six music classroom management strategies we use in our program.
Teach, Model, and Reteach Routines
Explain and show students how you expect them to do EVERYTHING. Include even the easiest behaviors: entering the room, where to build instruments, where to store cases, how to set up the music stand as a workstation for the class period (pencil, tuner, warm-ups, music). Insist that routines are done correctly every time and it will become habit for you and the students.
Use Nonverbal Signals
A simple arm raised by a teacher indicates all students need to raise their hands and become silent. Nothing proceeds until the room is silent. This sounds too simple but it works. When used consistently and diligently it quiets a noisy room of 80 sixth grade brass players in about 10 seconds. We have gotten to the point that students will initiate the arm raise when they hear talking among the students. Develop your own plan and use it every rehearsal every day.
Keep Rules Simple
Our classroom rule is “Act in a way which does not create problems for others.”
We follow that up with our posted Rehearsal Expectations:
Set up the room with aisles for you to be able to roam the room. Get off of the podium and move throughout the ensemble. Proximity does wonders for student behavior and allows you to see the rehearsal from their perspective.
Keep the room clean and organized. Have the room set with the correct number of chairs and stands. Have a spot for everything: extra music, pencils, tuners, lost and found, etc. Use binders for student materials to eliminate lost music. Put a pencil pouch in each binder to hold reeds, oil, tuners and pencils. Put the daily plan on the board so students know what to set up for when they enter the room.
Play More, Talk Less
Students are in band to play their instrument. The more they play the more they will like it. Many student errors can be fixed through slow repetition of small sections. Do not be afraid to repeat something a dozen times if needed. Your kids are tough, they can do it. When stopping to make corrections use three short phrases to include: who, where, what. For example: trumpets, measure 43, staccato notes-put space between. It is also very effective to model the correction on your instrument or by singing. Every stop should be 30 seconds maximum.
No matter how tired or frustrated you might become, calmly insist that there is only one way to do things in your classroom: the right way. What you accept is what you will get. Firm expectations and a loving attitude toward the students will create a comfortable and secure environment for you and your students. The whole point of music classroom management is to develop a system that removes distractions and logistics and allows students to focus on the task at hand-music.
5 Tips for Your Beginners
Being a part of a student's first year of music instruction is a tremendous responsibility and constant inspiration. Based on our combined experience, here are our top tips for making the year as rewarding as possible – for your students and yourself!
The beginning determines the end and what you expect is what you will get from your students. Young students are capable of a very high level of performance and professionalism if they are explicitly taught how to demonstrate these characteristics. A high level of expectations must be consistently tied to developing a process, grit, and work ethic. Not only must every student (and the teacher) believe they can achieve a high level of success, but they must understand and believe that they can also work hard enough to make it happen when something is new or tricky.
Explain and show students how you expect every classroom routine to be executed. Model the correct way to perform even the most mundane tasks; opening cases, how to hold the instrument when carrying it, resting position for instruments while playing, etc. Have students demonstrate the correct way to perform routines until they are performed without reminders. Then, when they slip or forget, go back to square one.
Consistently holding students to the daily routines and the behavior expectations you establish can be exhausting and sometimes frustrating. Still, it is critical to train students correctly to be a musician and part of your ensemble.
3. Playing Position, Hand Positions, and Embouchure
Correct posture, body position, hand position, and embouchure are non-negotiable. There is one way to do things: the right way. Teachers have different tips and tricks for these concepts, but a student will not exceed a teacher's standard. Model these concepts with your own set of instruments. Even if you are not strong on every secondary instrument, a beginning band teacher should be capable of modeling the correct position, embouchure, and tone on each instrument. If you cannot, it is time to get busy and improve.
Modeling and playing along with students every day provides them with an exemplary model and builds their concept of skill and tone. When students become fatigued or resistant, explain the analogy of a sports trainer or coach. A trainer will push an athlete to do more work and reps than they would do alone. A coach will repeat a drill or skill until it is part of muscle memory and skill set. You are their coach and trainer. Most young students have been on an athletic team and will understand this immediately.
4. Music Reading
After spending considerable time doing call-and-response exercises to establish tone production, articulation, rhythm, and pulse, introduce music reading. We give students approximately 15 hours of instruction before we begin reading music.
Once you start reading, use a large screen or whiteboard to project music. When students begin to read music, most of the confusion comes from not knowing how to track the music at the correct rate. Showing the students music symbols in one place on the board and ensuring that each child looks at the proper place in the music makes the process move quickly.
After spending several hours of instruction using a screen for their music, we begin to use music books on their stands, and we refer back and forth between the two sources. If students are having difficulty with the material, we will direct them to look at the screen to review the note types, names, fingerings, etc., and will play several times before they return to looking at their books or music.
We also rehearse each piece or exercise in tiny chunks, often measure by measure. If a measure does not sound good, DO NOT MOVE ON; repeat until students reach your set level of mastery. This process will make putting together the entire piece/exercise much more accessible.
5. Quality Literature
Keep things simple. Literature selections should provide a beautiful melody or tune, give every instrument relatively equal playing opportunities, and enable you to teach the characteristics of musicianship and ensemble. Set aside the "cool" pieces until students are technically and developmentally ready. The stress of chasing notes and rhythms sucks the fun and excitement out of performances for kids and teachers. The Queenwood "Red Book" series is one example that meets all of these requirements, is well crafted, and provides ample selections in various genres and styles. Develop a core repertoire that you can rotate and know will work well with your first-year students.
Every new piece of music is annotated by students before we begin working. Students have a study sheet for each piece of music. One side is this checklist. The other side has space for vocabulary, symbols and class notes.
Try it with your group for one piece and see if the reading and rehearsal is improved!
Eugene Corporon's Most Valuable Advice
"As you work toward the performance, it's not enough to tell players what the problems are, you must help them to experience the solutions, turning each into a complete muscle/memory experience."