Friday, October 25, 2013

Student Learning Objective in Band and Choir

The State of Connecticut requires me to have two student learning objectives (SLOs).  Music does not have a standardized test so I must design the assessment.

Both band and choir have the SLOs:

  • Students will improve their musical sight-reading.
  • Students will improve their performance technique.
SLO's are fairly general.  I then must establish Indicators of Academic Growth and Development (IAGD).  These are fairly complicated but basically how many students will be moved to the proficient, goal, or advanced levels.

Our curriculum benchmark indicates students should be performing at a NYSSMA Level 4 and sight-reading at Level 3.  I score all assessments as an "All-State" judge.  A 10 on tone in my class is the same 10 in the All-State room.  It is the only way I can think of to stay consistent across grade levels and instruments.

In general I have focussed a lot on modeling sight-reading with the choirs, and a lot on scales with the band.  All groups have little to no experience with scales, reading, etc...  Most of my students are freshman.

We use Smartmusic for all of these assessments.  I have the green cursor on for sight-reading at this point.

At this point all choir students should have completed:
  • Benchmark.  Alma del Core solo.  They sang it once in September and again this week.
  • Level .5 (do-re) sight-reading.  They have done this three times.
  • Level 1 (do-do, no accidentals, some eighth, 4/4)).  They have done three exercises.
At this point all band students should have completed:
  • Band Music Benchmark.  Section of Gateway March (Level 1-1.5).  They have done this twice.
  • Level 1 sight-reading.  They have done this twice.
  • Choir results for Level .5 reading has improved dramatically.  I am seeing a number of perfect scores in the latest testing.  
  • Choir results have improved slightly for the Level 1 sight-reading.  They improved significantly when they read as a group in class.  I need to get Level 1 to a perfect score and move on to Level 2 with the senior class.
  • Students are understanding their benchmark solos much better.  Many more students have reached proficient range.  However, I have not seen as large an increase as I had hoped.  Many students have significant trouble singing by themselves to the accompaniment.
  • Band sight-reading has improved slightly.  
  • Practice is definitely increasing.
  • Student conferences have more meaning.  I have a lot more data to use.
  • It is driving most of my lessons. 
  • We perform significantly below grade level.  This is the only way I can think of to change that.
Areas of improvement:
  • None of my students take private lessons.  They need 1-1 help.  I have 61 students and I am having trouble getting to all of them.  Many need significant help.
  • I need to develop academic leaders who help younger students.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grading Reflection: Band

This is the form I am asking my students to complete.  I am also providing them with their Smartmusic scores on this sheet.  I would love a good way to summarize their data better.  Choir has a similar sheet.



There are four items we have focussed on in Band for Marking Period One.

1. Sightreading.
  • Procedure: Starting pitch.  How many measures?  Where is Do?
  • Rhythm.  Count and clap.  Internalize pulse.
  • Pitch.  Find DO!!  Maintain tonality.  What key am I in?
  • Looking ahead.  Playing one measure while reading the next.
  • Basic treble/bass note identification

2. Tone.
  • Placement (reed, hand position, jaw relax, etc…)
  • Intonation
  • Double tonguing.
  • Blend with section.

3. Technique
  • Scales
  • Knowing fingerings, positions, notes, etc...
  • Application to songs.  Recognize accidentals.

4. Professional Behavior
  • Showing up on time.  
  • Being prepared for rehearsal and performances.
  • Proper rehearsal behavior
    • Marking parts
    • Posture
    • Attention and participation

Please briefly summarize your performance on each of the above standards.  Please provide specific examples of how you have improved and what your grade (A, B, C, etc…) should be.

Standard 1: Sightreading Student Grade:_____
Level 1 Score 1:     Score 2:
Notes highest score:

Standard 2: Tone Student Grade:_____
Benchmark Score 1:          Score 2:

Standard 3: Technique Student Grade:_____

Standard 4: Professional Behavior Student Grade:_____

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Composing with Garageband in Choir Class

This is a version of the band lesson I use.

I will do this slightly differently in my Senior choir class (which is 1-1) and my Freshman choir class (which is 1-2).  I will do this as a "station" in freshman class while the remainder complete SmartMusic sight-reading assessments.

Senior choir has some prior knowledge of key, chords, measures, etc... Freshman choir has little of that.  

I model opening Garageband and recording a drum track, bass track, and keyboard track.  I use Smart instrument settings and autoplay.  I show them how to check that the chords are available for a I-vi-IV-V sequence.  I stress we will use only these chords.  Garageband defaults to an 8 measure composition.  I spend maybe five minutes on this demonstration.

I ask them to compose a five track composition with a melody on top of them singing.  There must be two vocal tracks.  They can do it in monophonic style or polyphonic style (we are singing motets at the moment).  This opens the assignment up to lots of discussion about choices.  I give them 30 minutes.

One thing I will do with the choir is insist that they do the tracks in this order: bass, vocal1, keyboard, drum, vocal 2.

I think this hits Standard 1, 2, 3, 4, 9.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Going Paperless: an Update

I have been trying to go about 98% paperless.  Here is an update.

1. Using the iPads as a folder is going pretty well.  It is much easier in rehearsal.  It is easy for students to switch between parts and there is never "I forgot my music".  It is a little less successful in freshman choir where I am 20 iPads to 30 students.  One issue we may start coming up against is the page flips in band.  We have a few pieces that have awkward page turns.

2. Edmodo has been working very well.  We are doing all of our writing, announcement, polling, quiz through edmodo.  One thing I would like edmodo to do better is archive messages.  I would like to be able to pull back messages I send to a student at a conference, for example.

3. We have to get better at sharing.  I have not yet seen students sharing resources.  I need to find a way to encourage that.