Archive for August, 2013

Aug 22nd 2013 Curriculum Questions

As students are heading back to school here in Charlotte, NC, and all over the country, we should ask ourselves; are we teaching the way students learn in today’s environment.  Honestly with the competition between extra curricular activities we as teachers need to be up to date on the latest methods and learning styles.  Are we incorporating the newest technology in our lessons?  Are we excited about teaching?

What are questions that we should ask ourselves as teachers and what same questions should parents be asking?

1.  What curriculum do you use?  And part two of this question.  Why do you use this curriculum?

As as teacher, do you use the same material because it is always what you’ve used, or because you believe it is the most relevant to today’s students?  Do you use the best correlation with local festivals?  Do you try to expose students to a wide variety of music and print styles? 

2.  Are your students active in the community?  Festivals, talent shows, recitals, playing at nursing homes. 

3.  Do the students use technology to help keep them interested during the challenging parts of the curriculum?  Online apps or flashcards?  Notation software?  Youtube performances?  Are you utilizing these resources?

4.  Are you following a curriculum of any kind that can aid a parent in understanding the rate of progress for the student?

5.  Are the students learning about areas outside of music that relate to music?  Roman numerals, world history, different cultures that have influenced nationalistic music?

Many times I think as teachers we can get in a rut.  Even with a tried and true curriculum, there are opportunities for evaluation and introspection.  As parents are calling and emailing, do you seem excited about the coming year or are you feeling the grind of hearing those same pieces again?  It is up to us as educators to try to instill excitement for music and knowledge in our new and returning students.

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Aug 13th 2013 A Break, A Sabbatical, A Vacation, A Return

I’ve been either in school or teaching full time since the fall of 2000.  That is a long time!  The month of August is a notoriously slow month on the lesson front.  This year, I decided to do something different.  The studio is closed for the entire month of August and the first week of September.  What about the students?  Most were vacationing at least part of the month, and all were glad not to have to negotiate the first few weeks of school with an after school activity. 

 

I’m using this time to think about my methodology and where I want the studio to go in the next year.  What’s been working and what needs a revamp? 

 

The most useful thing that I’ve done this year is to have started using either a candle or incense on lesson days in the room off the studio.  This combined with a quite minute.  The quality of lessons has improved dramatically.  So many of my students come directly from school or other activities.  The students just aren’t as focused on that 30 or 45 minutes as they should be.  As the student enters the studio we talk briefly about how the day went and get the books arranged at the piano.  Then I ask the student to close their eyes and think about “how you practiced, what did you improve upon, and what you want to show me in your lesson.”  Just a minute of silence for most of the students allows them to reset and leave the rest of the day at the door.  I feel as a teacher that I’m getting a more accurate read on what the students are accomplishing during the week.

 

As we come back in the fall, I hope to have more students signing up for The Music Development Program exams.  Previously known as RACE and the Carnegie Hall Achievement Program.  This is a program that I believe in strongly.  Whether the student takes the exams or just uses the principles laid out in the curriculum, my students are on a stronger and more through track than ever.  Having an internationally recognized standard makes it so easy to know how a student is truly progressing in the literature.  If you would like to find out more about this program, please let me know.

 

As always, Brunner Studio is scheduling lessons.  Just because the studio is on break doesn’t mean that my email and phone don’t work!  Please call or email if you would like to know more about piano, voice or oboe lessons for this fall.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

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