1. What were the objectives for the lesson you observed? Were there specific lesson objectives for the brass that were different from others’ learning objectives?
One of the objectives was making sure that the notes had a clean sound without sliding or being lazy. Another objective was to play quick passages of notes with legato and without unnecessary accents. The teacher also wanted them to try out alternate positions to help with the flow. The teacher also wanted to have an accurate rhythm of sixteenth notes.
2. What particular ways did you notice the brass being worked with? What sorts of specific feedback was given to them?
The teacher said not to relax so much when playing the low notes or they will go flat.
The teacher also said that the sound has to be consistent. There can’t be “crappy” notes every now and then.
To help them with switching between positions faster they did a pattern between two notes back and forth trying to keep a legato sound (with no accents).
3. What observations did you make that stuck out to you that are brass specific? What ways did you notice the brass functioning similarly or differently than other instruments?
The teacher made a point of saying that you can’t be lazy when playing the trombone or there will be a bad sound especially for quick notes which is different from trumpet where pressing the valves needs accuracy as well, but it is not as crucial as trombones.
4. Was there anything that surprised you? Was there anything that confirmed or rejected what you thought about brass from class or previous experience? Discuss.
The teacher said to think tighter when playing low notes instead of thinking looser when playing lower notes. He did mention that it was a different way of thinking than usual. I guess because he did not want the players to go flat when playing lower notes, he said to think tighter so that they would stay in tune.
5. What specific connections can you make to thinks we have experienced or discussed in class?
They started the class by playing a slow chromatic descending scale and a couple of other warming up exercises like we do in class. They did not start on the mouthpiece like we did though, probably because they did not sound like beginner players. One of the players was puffing his cheeks a little and the area under his nose also puffed a little bit. I remember that kind of feeling. The same method of asking each student to play individually and making the other student listen to what the student was playing and identifying problems was used in this group lesson as well.
6. Any other notes about the observation that are interesting?
They were not focused on seeing the positions while they were playing. One boy was closing his eyes and the other was focusing on a spot in the corner of the room. They knew their positions very well. They also constantly tapped one foot.
The class I observed was at my high school, John P. Stevens High School, in Edison, NJ. I sat in on an Acapella class that meets during third period. Goals for the day were to do a holiday appropriate warm up and then make sure that the concert pieces were memorized and ready for the concert taking place at a middle school the following week. The teacher, Mr. Meszaros, used a combination of verbal and nonverbal instructions, as well as a method of asking questions to refresh the memory of the students.
On occasion, the students began to talk too much and Mr.M specifically told them to quiet down and to pay attention. If the students still would not quiet down, he would make eye contact with one student and mouth “C” while holding his hand up horizontally. That student would proceed to sing what he/she thought was a middle C and the rest of the class would catch on. When no one was left talking then Mr.M would resume either the warm ups or whatever he was talking about. This situation only came up one time.
They began with a song called “A Carol in Winter” and Mr.M asked them what they had to keep in mind about the song. They had obviously talked about what they had to keep in mind before that class, but I think that he asked them to name important ideas so that the students would not get bored listening to him talk the entire time and also so that he knew that the students were on the same page as he was. Mr.M acknowledged what each student said, expanding on the things that they said so that everyone who forgot what they needed to focus on in the songs knew what to do when the singing began. He told them to keep in mind not to fade throughout the phrases, but to keep each phrase shaped and strong until the end.
Generally, Mr.M had a lot of facial expression with his eyes and his mouth, forming the shape the vowels should be with his mouth and raising his eyebrows to engage the students. When cuing parts that had quick part changes, he seemed to dot the air with his hands. When phrases were longer, he used his whole body to lean into phrases and used his arms in longer lines. These nonverbal instructions helped the students to feel and shape the music.
When moving on to another song, there was some chatter. The teacher did not call out students who were talking or not paying attention specifically, but he did address inattentiveness in a general way. He said things like, “I’m cuing all of you so please make sure you’re watching me instead of finishing conversations.” Perhaps Mr.M addressed the chatter in that way so that a single person would not be embarrassed, but it is also possible that because there were multiple side conversations going on at a time, he did not feel it would be productive to tell multiple people to be quiet individually.
Movement from song to song was very quick. Mr.M explained what needed to still be worked on after each piece and then quickly called out the name of the next piece. Because the songs were all supposed to be memorized they were able to start right into the songs. The quick transitions between songs were probably so that the possibility of the students chatting would be minimized.
I felt that I was able to learn a lot from watching Mr. Meszaros teach the acapella class. Perhaps if I had sat in on a choir class that was less advanced there would have been more difficulties that Mr.M would have had to handle and that I could have observed, but I think that I was still able to learn a lot of good ideas from watching a relatively well behaved class.
This is my philosophy about why music education in the school system is very important and how music can affect children of all ages as well as adults and whole communities.
“Cotton Eye Joe”
At the end of the five minutes, all students should know the dance steps to the “Cotton Eye Joe.” The students should be able to dance the dance slowly and in-sync with each other. If the students pick the dance up quickly then music will be added for an extra challenge.
1. Arrange the students in a straight line so that all of the students can see the teacher.
2. Ask students to watch me first. Extend my right leg and tap my heel on the ground twice. Ask students to do as I did.
3. Ask students to watch me again. Bring same leg back and tap toe on the ground behind me. Ask students to do the same.
4. Put the first two steps together by demonstrating and counting the rhythm “1,2,3,4.” Ask students to do the same, while I count out loud.
5. Ask students to watch me. Stretch right leg to the right and touch toe to ground. Then bring your leg up so your legs form a ‘4.’ Ask class to repeat.
6. Ask class to watch me. Repeat motion except bringing leg behind and touching toe behind. Ask class to repeat.
7. Put the last two steps together for the class to see with counting. Ask them to repeat while I count.
8. Demonstrate putting all steps together. Ask them to give it a try.
9. Tell the students to watch as I demonstrate a brief grapevine move with my feet for four beats and then clap. (crossing feet) Ask them to repeat.
10. Add all of the pieces together and ask them to follow me.
11. Ask them to watch as I spin back to where I started from while waving my arm in the air in a circular motion. Ask them to repeat it as well.
12. Start from the beginning at a slow speed, demonstrating while they copy me.
13. If they are able to complete it in sync with each other, then I will turn the music on.
This is a very kinesthetic exercise because they will be able to try the dance moves themselves after each demonstration. Also, because I will be showing them each step before asking them to try it themselves, they have a visual to help people learn who pick up concepts quicker through visuals. The counting out loud also caters to students who learn better through hearing.
September 26, 2012
This was my first time teaching a student an instrument that was not my primary instrument. I had to teach one beginner student how to put together a flute, make an initial sound, and play a couple of notes.
September 18, 2012
I was asked to record a video introducing myself. I was supposed to share things about myself that would give a stranger a good idea of who I see myself as, whether it was related to music or not, while also speaking with minimal verbal ticks. I believe this video was supposed to give me practice for future interviews.