Wednesday, November 25, 2009


What is a grade? Is it a measure of competence or is it an average of test scores? How does behavior enter your grades?

Attendance and promptness are part of our standards and of our grades. That is an essential quality of performance and being a musician. I also ensure that all nine music standards are reflected somewhere in each quarter. Major concert time obviously favors Standard 1, 2 (Sing, Play).

I work hard to get everyone an A in the class. The bell curve does not make for a quality ensemble sound (and where did that idea come from that it is sound educational practice anyway??).

I'd love some comments or suggestions on how to ensure the grade at the end of the year means something.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where are we?

I have been seeing marked progress in the ensembles the past few weeks. A number of things happened:
  • We had regional auditions and did very well.
  • Both 4th grade bands really stepped up and can play the basic songs now (Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc...).
  • HS Choir is rehearsing well. We make progress in each rehearsal. Some kids who were hardly singing at all are now really shining.
But, some kids are being left behind. They are absent a lot. They don't practice. They don't give the effort. Now they are looking around, seeing the other kids excel and they have a decision to make. Do I stay where I am or do I get on the bus? Lets hope they get on the bus because we are starting to go places!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


If you teach arranging or any type of music this is a great example to play to demonstrate Rule #1. Keep it simple.

Still writing

Today I have spent a few hours in curriculum. For the most part this is just formatting, putting stuff in the right slot. Soon the real thinking and debating has to begin.

There currently isn't a curriculum for the classes I teach. There may have been one back in the day, but its not here now. This is my job for the year. If I can do that then we can start tracking data and measuring progress.

I thought Google Sites was the best place to put it. Wiki environment, able to be edited, commented on, etc... All other curriculums are printed out, which I just don't see as a viable option.

I hope to start attaching examples of student work soon as well as data and assessments. Then it will become more of a living document and be much more useful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


We have to learn how to crawl before we can walk. We have to walk before we can jump.

I'm definitely having an interesting week. So much is going right:
  • HS Choir is starting to get it.
  • My 4th grade saxophones at Lopresti sound amazing.
  • Developmental band clarinets accomplished ten weeks of work in two weeks. They are learning!
  • My trombones at both schools are improving fast.
And we have to do a lot:
  • We have to show up and show up on time. Nothing matters more.
  • We have to build culture. We must establish and maintain a standard of excellence.
  • We will be relentless in our pursuit of results. We take no days off.