Drum corps these days seems to have transformed into an activity in which music is not the main focus, or so its critics would say. Those who participate naturally argue for the musical validity of drum corps, while most musicians from the indoor world struggle to see any reason to play while “running around”, as some may say. And we are not even mentioning the idea of doing this out in the elements, every day for the entire summer. Taking all of this into account, I am composing this article in hopes of inspiring other music education majors to participate in drum corps by giving them as many reasons as I can muster to do so. [Read more...]
Last week, the post 5 Low-Stress Ways to Stay Musically Active Over the Summer listed ways to stay active in music over the summer without the stressors of the school year. The post was received fairly well, and there has been some great conversation that has been taking place in the comments to that post, including a number of additional ideas for ways to extend this list. Thank you for everyone who shared their ideas–I encourage everyone to take a part in the conversations that take place in post comments. The posts are only half the conversation; let’s keep the conversation going past that!
Anyway, on to the list! I will continue my numbering from the previous post, so first up is number 6…
6. Perform Your Instrument!
Summer is a great time to be able to perform your instrument in a much lower-stress environment than your typical college-level performing ensembles. There are two great examples of this. Brian Liporto (find him on Twitter at @bliporto) points out that playing in a community band is a great way to stay active and keep your chops in shape. Also, playing in community bands is a fantastic opportunity to experience new repertoire. Another summertime option is playing for musicals. Many local theater guilds and companies perform musicals in the summer, and Music Education students make great additions to the pit orchestra for these shows. The theater company gets a solid player who has been actively playing for a while, and you get the chance to keep your chops up, learn a bit about what it’s like conducting for musicals (if that is something you are interested in), and just have fun!
7. Improve a Specific Skill Through Practice
If you, like many Music Education majors, don’t have as much time to practice during the school year as you wish you did, summer can be a great time to focus on your performance skills. Specifically, summer is a perfect opportunity to choose a specific skill to improve upon. For example, if you are a clarinet player, you may want to focus your summer practice on improving finger speed. As a trumpet player, I am trying to focus my efforts in the practice room this summer on a weak aspect of my playing: endurance. Whatever you choose to focus on, don’t short-change the rest of the aspects of your instrument! Without maintenance, you may come back and have the best range in the studio, but if your tone quality and lip flexibility have been neglected, you will not have done yourself a favor in the end.
8. Learn and Collaborate Online
With the advent of Web 2.0, there is a wealth of information available on the internet related to the field of Music Education. While tip #3 in this series referred to networking using Social Media, the internet also provides an opportunity for learning and collaboration through blogging. If you have ideas to share, start your own blog! If you’re more interested in reading other people’s ideas, check out Dr. J. Pisano’s list of 100 Music Education Bloggers for some great reading material. If you’re in the middle, consider trying to contribute to an already existing blog as a guest poster (shameless plug-MusicEdMajor.net is looking for contributors!). However you spin it, blogs are a great way to learn more and focus your ideas and thoughts regarding specific topics.
9. Get a Job in the Field
What better way to stay active in music over the summer than to make it your job? Summer jobs are a part of life for most college students, but instead of flipping burgers or selling shirts, why not sort music or teach camp sessions? There are usually plenty of jobs to do around your School of Music, and while it might not be extremely exciting (I’m filing music for the instrumental music librarian all summer), there may also be opportunities to teach at camps available. As Matt pointed out in the comments to the original post, working at a summer music camp can be a great way to get experience in a diverse set of tasks, from administration to individual, small, and large group instruction. You may even have a chance to work on becoming proficient at a secondary instrument! Whatever you end up doing, it can benefit you in multiple ways: not only are you getting experience in music, but chances are you’re getting paid too!
Do you have other ideas for staying active over the summer? What do you do to keep your chops and mind in shape? Join our conversation by leaving a comment below! Also, if you haven’t already, check out the first part of this post, 5 Low-Stress Ways to Stay Musically Active Over the Summer!
While in Washington, D.C. for MENC’s Music Education Week, I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Kriston Feldpausch, one of the Executive Directors of BNC Education. I have had a small amount of interaction with BNC Education before; one of my personal blog posts was featured in the June edition of the Music Education Blog Carnival, which they hosted on their blog. It was wonderful getting to put a face to the name, and get to have some great conversations with Mrs. Feldpausch.
One thing I did not know about BNC Education when I arrived in Washington is that they have published a book! Mrs. Feldpausch, along with Mr. Steve Raybould (the other half of BNC Education) published a book in 2008 entitled Teaching Band and Chorus in the 21st Century: A Director’s Guide. When I informed Mrs. Feldpausch of what I was doing here at MusicEdMajor.net, she asked if I would be interested in writing a review of the book here on the site. I, of course, was thrilled with the idea, and this review is the result of that encounter!
There are plenty of books that have been published on pedagogical techniques, books that “teach you how to teach.” This book is different, though, in that it is geared towards teaching you many things you won’t learn in your method’s courses, and some that you will as well. As the back cover explains:
Teaching Band and Chorus in the 21st Century is a practical, common-sense guide to efficiently running a band and chorus program.
Essentially, the authors highlight details of absolutely everything that a teacher could encounter, from ways to structure lessons and organize rehearsal time to advice for how to build your program’s budget. It is really an all-in-one crash course in being a band or chorus teacher.
The book is laid out in four sections. The first section is entitled “Your Students” and discusses topics that will involve both you (the teacher) and your students (for example, listening, classroom management, and assessment). This section is the main area that discusses pedagogical techniques; most of the rest of the book focuses on the “extra stuff” that all teachers encounter. Section two is called “Your Program.” This is the longest section in the book, and covers topics such as marketing your program, planning concerts, financial considerations, paperwork, and parent communication. The third section, “Your Place,” is about relating your ensemble to the community. It includes advice on recruiting, collaboration, and administration. Finally, section four is entitled “Your Life” and focuses on your well-being as the director. The three issues covered in this section are getting a job, professional development, and things to do over the summer (a topic that has also been covered here at MusicEdMajor.net).
In addition to the content of the book, the authors have added small segments, which appear in sidebar format on some pages, or take up full pages elsewhere, to add additional insight. The first of these are called “Technology Tips,” and they include ideas for integrating technology into the music program. The “What if…” boxes anticipate “what if…” questions that are likely to come up based on the content around which they are placed (for example, the “What if” box in the budgeting section is appropriately titled “What if my budget gets cut?”). The third type of section is called “Reality Check,” and appears every so often on it’s own page, with a reminder that as ambitious as we are as musicians, we cannot do everything, and our program is not the center of the universe. Finally, the authors place a segment called “Blogging at North Central…” at the end of each topic. This segment chronicles the lives of two fictional teachers, band director Barbara Ritter and choral director Conrad Wallace, telling stories about encounters they have had that coincide with the topic they follow. The catch is, all the stories themselves are true-the names have just been changed!
This book will not find its home as a textbook in a collegiate Music Education program any time soon, but it does serve its purpose extremely well. The information and ideas in the book are fresh and exciting, and they are delivered in an extremely passionate voice. The book is written in a more informal voice than a typical textbook, which makes it significantly easier to read. The authors (one of whom is a choral director, the other a band director) do a good job of citing specific examples from both of the concentrations equally, although there are some sections that focus specifically on one concentration where a broader view might be more beneficial to the reader. All in all, though, the book does a great job at doing what it is billed to–providing a practical, common-sense guide to running a program.
On a scale of 5 stars, I give this book 5 stars! It is an extremely helpful resource to beginning educators, and I would call it a “must-have” for any first-year band or chorus director. The book seems to have less application to veteran teachers than it is billed to, but it does provide the opportunity for revitalization for a veteran teacher who has fallen into a routine and is looking for new ways to go about things. This book by no means is a substitute for a 4-year Music Education degree, but it is a fantastic handbook for being out in the field, and should be on every first-year band or chorus director’s shelf! It is not necessarily cheap at $21.95, but I feel it would be a good investment for a beginning teacher!
Have you read this book or others like it? Please leave a comment with your thoughts or questions about the book, and I will be happy to answer anything I can! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Teaching Band and Chorus in the 21st Century today!
Do you have a product (book, software, website) that you would like to see reviewed on MusicEdMajor.net? Leave a comment here, or email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
As students (especially in Music Education), we tend to look forward to summer vacation starting in about September, and rightfully so-the summer break is a great opportunity to relax and destress from what was most likely another busy, hectic, and stressful year of classes. However, summer can also be a great time to stay active in the field in a low-stress way! Here are five ways to stay active in Music and Music Education over the summer without putting your blood pressure at risk (you can also find 4 More Ways to Stay Active Over the Summer, a follow-up to this post):
1. Attend Conferences or Festivals
There are plenty of conferences that take place over the summer in the field of Education (or Music Ed, specifically). Take advantage of these opportunities to visit another city, gather information that will be helpful for your career, and network all at once! If you want to focus more on your playing, there are hundreds of performance festivals and camps all over the world worth attending that will help you improve your performance skills significantly. Whatever you do, though, if you are traveling, make sure to set aside time to take in the city (or country!) you are visiting!
2. Teach Private Lessons
Teaching private lessons can be a great opportunity for many reasons. First, this is a fantastic chance to hone your one-on-one teaching skills. Second, it is a good way to keep your instrument from accumulating dust as so many instruments tend to do over the summer. Third, it is a source of income (a reason that should never be scoffed at!). Finally, teaching privately is not quite as much a time commitment as working a normal 9-5 job, and will still leave you with plenty of time to relax.
You don’t have to be at a conference to build a network of professionals who know you and can answer any questions you may have! Online social networking services such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have exploded over the past few months and years, and there are tons of teachers and administrators that you can network with using these services without even having to change out of your pajamas! For a great start, check out the Twitter4Teachers Wiki, which contains a listing of thousands of teachers and administrators in all different subject areas (including music!).
4. Go to Concerts
Too many times we become so busy with out own schedules during the school year that we don’t get the opportunity to listen to many concerts around the community. Take the summer as an opportunity to do that–many local performing ensembles (community bands, etc.) have summer seasons that you can subscribe to, and if you are fortunate enough to live in a major city, consider going to see the Symphony (or Philharmonic) Orchestra downtown; many of these orchestras have student discounts that make attending their concerts more affordable!
Sometimes the best way to be active is to not be active. Taking time off and focusing on your hobbies, spending time with friends, and enjoying the summer (or even just sleeping!) can be extremely revitalizing and leave you recharged for the year to come. Enjoy summer; that’s what it’s for!
Do you have a favorite way to stay active in the field during the summer months? What do you do? Leave your suggestions in the comments, and lets see if we can’t add to this list!
[Front Page Image Credit - Liz Menne]