Sunday, January 6, 2013

   Well here we are, Sunday night and I am doing my weekly ritual of *facepalms* as I am remembering my list of what I was going to do over the weekend that is school related.  For starters, a reminder email sent to parents and students indicating that lessons resume tomorrow.  I should have sent that on Friday, but I was on my way to being sick so that it didn't happen.  I also was going to grade late work this weekend, but that never left my office.  I am not sure it would have gotten done anyway.

  On the brighter side of things, I ended my week last Friday with my 6th grade clarinet double trio that is preparing some pieces for an event in a few weeks.  I absolutely ADORE these girls.  They are cute, funny and motivated young ladies.  Not to mention, awesome clarinet players for their age.  They LOVE playing high notes and are always excited to learn new concepts, fingeringss and notes.  They have been working out of the "Festival Ensembles" book 1 (Bruce Pearson and Chuck Elledge) and I basically have the pleasure of sitting back and watching them rehearse themselves.  Let me backtrack and say that all of my 6th graders have these books and we are going to start working on chamber music in our lessons this week.  I think that chamber music is essential to the development of young musicians in so many aspects.  I will be writing another post about that in a few weeks, when the 8th graders begin their chamber ensemble project, that uses book 2 to of "Festival Ensembles". 

   Anyway, these girls rotate through the parts (A, B, C)-2 girls on a part.  I get them going, and sometimes I play along, but mostly I sit and listen and watch to see what happens.  This last rehearsal was quite facinating as one of the girls made the observation, "You know, we are all playing the same dynamics and there are tons written in.  Can we try to play more softly?"  And then another girl mentioned that the melody was being covered up by the accompianment.  While these are common conversations for many musicians, I am not sure that I have ever witnessed a group of 6th graders, on a Friday after school, showing such musical maturity.

  This is what makes teaching so cool and something that I did not allow myself to give in to when I first started teaching.  It has only been the last couple of years, since I began and completed grad school, that I have allowed the students to take over their learning.  Really, my purpose is to guide these students.  Yes, I present new concepts through literature and exercises, but some of the best learning that is going on in my room is not when I am talking, (probably very little is going on then!!  HAH!)  but rather when the students hash it out.  It's really cool.  I challenge you to let go and see what happens.  If you are really digging this, I suggest you read up on Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget and John Dewey and the Constructivism Learning Theory.

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