Monday, August 8, 2016

MusicFirst impressions

I am a few weeks in to MusicFirst.  I purchased the online classroom and sightreading factory.  I spent a bit of time online with a very nice lady in support.

Some initial impressions:

  • You are not able to share announcements/tasks/pages between classes.  So if I write "Listening Assignment" in Choir and add it to "Favorites", it will not be available in Band.  I have to retype it.
  • If you make an assignment to save, and type in the Rubric, add to Favorites--the rubric won't save.
  • If you make a "rehearsal" on the class calendar--it won't show up for students.  For band/choir events this doesn't work.  If you typed "Concert" in band, you have to retype it in choir.  And it wont show up on the student calendar anyway.
  • There is no checkboxes for assigning work.  You have to make a group. (edit: I think I figured it out.  You can assign assessment to individual students)
  • Why do I have to click "Make Visible" for a student to see Assessment.  If I schedule it for a certain date--shouldn't it be visible then???
  • There is really no ability to make announcements (ala facebook or Edmodo).
  • There is a messages function but you can only message one person at a time.  You can't message the class or a group (!!).
  • When grading you can't click "next item".  You have to go back to the grading screen, scroll down, and click the item to move to the next thing to grade.
  • "automatic" quizzes (multiple choice, etc...) do not self grade.  A score is reported, but you still have to go in to change "score" to grade.
I am a bit frustrated.  I feel this might work for sightreading and theory assignments but it doesn't seem to work at all for everything else.  I feel I will have to retain Edmodo and other services.  I was really sold with a "everything in one box" sales pitch.

Obviously, I hope for smoother paths again and I am sure I will end up loving it.  One day at a time...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Choral Repertoire

The 2016-17 school year will feature a choir that is slightly smaller, older, and more experienced than last years group.  I have little knowledge of the freshman except that there are some boys.  I have purchased Essential Elements (Book 1 and 2) and MusicFirst (no more Smartmusic) and will make a big effort this year to solidify our sequence of curriculum.  I expect a diverse group (age, experience, etc..) and hope the mix of the online classroom and the traditional book work will really help us.

I have chosen a few pieces but I am holding off until I know the strength of the freshman boys.  If we transition from SSA to SAB and eventually to SATB it will greatly alter the music we order.  I anticipate this will be a year where I will struggle to find the RIGHT pieces at the RIGHT time.  Thus, I hope to make rep learning a much smaller part of our day--and increase student responsibility for that learning.  Leadership will be everything as we push over our tipping point and move from good to great.

1. Run, Mary, Run by Brian Tate.  This song is fairly simple and allows us to start off the year strong.  The part for men is fairly easy and repetitive and will support them as they develop.  Harmonies are fairly simple and includes short solo opportunities.  I think this will be a great song to work on breath support in the beginning of the year.

2. Lineage by Andrea Ramsey.  Again, an easier to start the year--this time with Chorale.  I hope to perform this at WCSU Festival in October (after maybe 6 rehearsals).  Vowels, vowels, vowels.  It also has a bunch of opportunities to demonstrate our breath support.

3. Goodnight, Moon by Eric Whitacre.  I am making an effort this year to learn 5-6 "recital" songs.  We always sing four of the Italian songs, and many Broadway songs, but I want to go into "traditional" recital songs.  We are having more and more students audition for college and we need to prepare them.  This is a beautiful song, and will be a reach vocally, but I hope the kids respond to it.  This will be a song that probably 1-2 of the students should actually perform, but all can learn from.

4. Ave Maria by Guy Forbes.  This is a reach for Chorale.  If we could sing it at WCSU in October I would be very happy.  This is a piece that the girls will need to say "do the work".  Solid SSAA, traditional (with hint of Whitacre sound).  Gorgeous.



A few other notes:

  • I am going to bring the candle light processional back at the winter concert.  This takes a lot of work, but I think we really have the group for it again.
  • I have scheduled four (!) major concerts.  One per term.  We will move fast.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Final Exam: Band and Choir

Band/Choir Final Exam  Spring 2016

Every student will complete the following exam.  We will work on this during class time and no student will be exempt.

Performance: 50 pts
Perform, record, edit, and publish a multi-part ensemble piece.  YOU will perform ALL the parts on your band instrument or voice.

  • Band choose from the following:
    • Ensemble books OR
    • one of our jazz tunes.  
  • Choir choose from the following:
    • Swingin with the Saints (12/8 section)
    • Star Spangled Banner (our 2 part arrangement)
  • Chorale choose from above OR one of the following:
    • The Climb
    • Parting Glass
  • Record using Garageband or Audacity or similar program.  I will help you get started.
  • Edit recordings, adjust balance.
  • Publish to youTube or Soundcloud.  Student must submit link on Edmodo assignment.  

Students will be judged on your tone, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, style, articulations, and attention to detail.  You will also be judged on your ability to meet deadlines and work with the technology.

Reflection: 20pts
  • Write a reflection on your career in band or choir.  What did you learn?  Please prepare this digitally and submit using Google Docs and Edmodo.  This should be 1-2 typed pages (with PARAGRAPHS).  I will save this and compile for future years.
  • This reflection could include items such as:
    • What should 8th graders know before they enter the class?
    • What do you learn in band or choir (6 rules, social, academic, musical, etc..)?  
    • What are you thankful for? What do you regret?

Sightreading: 20pts
  • All students will complete two sight-reading assessments in Smartmusic

Scales: 10pts

  • Band students will perform all major scales in one octave, all-state pattern.
  • Choir students will perform the All-State pattern scale, one octave:
    • Sopranos, Tenors: Dmaj, and high Gmaj
    • Altos, Basses: Dmaj, and low Gmaj

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rubrics

I think it is Gordon who talks about two types of grades:

Two types of grades: idiographic (S's work relative to his/her own potential, i.e. music aptitudes); and normative (S's work relative to his/her peers).

Is it more likely to use rubrics with one and not the other?  Which type is harder to "justify"?

In my experience it is very rare where a student is inspired by improving their grade or rubric score.  It is almost always compliance (I improve my grade because I am supposed to).  I STRUGGLE with this.  I almost never know what it means if someone says "I got an A in ___________".  Does this mean they remembered their instrument every day?  They can think creatively? Knows all their major scales?

I also think you can provide clear expectations with out using a rubric.

I also almost always allow students to choose/defend their grades.  If a student has a C and wants an A we can discuss it.  If the student makes a great case--its an A.  Some people think thats crazy because of the tyranny of the gradebook.

I do like using rubrics for data type events or performances (sight-reading for example).   Activities where entries like "2-3 Note Errors" make sense.

Is it also possible rubrics might work pretty well in elementary classes where tasks/standards are smaller?  Perhaps.  Is it possible in high performing or creative classes rubrics might be less used? Certainly.

It is so very important we figure this out and we are consistent.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Family Choir

As part of a district initiative to increase parent involvement in schools I started the Seymour High School Family Choir.  In November I sent letters and emails to all parents and faculty inviting them to join us at our concert next week.

My plan was as follows:
1. My goal was to include as many adults as possible.
2. I want them to full members of the choir: dress in black and white, sit with group, warm-up with us.
3. I wanted to encourage singing.  We don't sing much anymore.

This is what happened (so far):
1. I had 15 parents/grandparents and 3 faculty members attend the rehearsal last night.
2. We decided to sing O Sifuni Mungu.  This was slightly challenging because of the language, but we got it done.
3. There were lots of smiles.

I am looking forward to our concert and growing our community with these new members.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter Concert

Seymour High School 2015-16 Winter Concert


 SHS Chorale
  1. Star Spangled Banner………………………………...…………………..….F. Scott Key
  2. Best Days of My Life…………………………………………..….…….arr. Deke Sharon
  3. Wake Me Up……………………………………………………………..….arr. Deke Sharon
  4. Parting Glass……………………………………..………………..…...arr. Wailin’ Jennys
  5. Silver Buckle on Mozart’s Shoe………………………………….….Kristina Boerger

SHS Soloists
1.   Nina………………………………………………...…………………..…….……………….Pergolesi
2.   Danza, Danza, faniciulla gentile……………………………………………..…… Durante
3.   Bist Du Bei Mir……………………………………………………………………..……....JS Bach
4.   Wanting Memories……………………………………………………….…...Ysaye Barnwell

SHS Choir:
 1.    Shine On Me…………………………………….…….…….…….…...arr. Rollo Dillworth
 2.    A New Day…………………………………………………......………….....Audrey Snyder
 3.    Taylor the Latte Boy………………….…...Heisler and Goldrich, arr. Mac Huff

  1. Dirait-on……………………..…….…………………………………...…..Morten Lauridsen
  2. Al Shlosha…………………………………………………………………………....Allan Naplan
  3. O Sifuni Mungu..................................................arr. Roger Emerson