So I am really, really bad at updating. My apologies that I haven’t done anything in around two or three months.
I digress. I have had a really busy summer teaching music/music directing/assistant music directing/vocal coaching/accompanying/everything else at this awesome theater company called the KAT Company. Unfortunately, it’s the last year of the company-I have worked with them for three years prior to this one as their music director for the KAT Kabaret (I know how it’s spelled!), which is either a revue/short musical that the teenagers who participate not only perform, but serve awesome desserts (it’s a really great time!). I was asked to have a bigger role in the company for the 30th and final season, so not only did I music direct the Kabaret, but I also got to assistant music direct the Mainstage show (which is the whole theater company, ages 8-20 and it was a revue this year of all of the director’s written shows), as well as teach Music Theatre Audition Techniques, Music Workshop 1 and Music Workshop 2 (the last two are general music classes). Well, fantastic, this was going to be a great summer. A LOT of work, but great.
But I had a challenge. In each of my Music Workshops, I had a total of three kids in each workshop.
THREE. What on the green Earth was I going to do with three kids in each workshop, ranging in ability and age?
Create instruments! Fun, cheap, easy, cheap nature-y and cheap!
The kids LOVED doing it! They took so much time to make sure their instruments came out beautifully (and they all really did)!
Here are two examples of the instruments the kids created: maracas and claves!
For the maracas:
- paper plates (not the flimsy kind, but definitely sturdy)
- paint, glue, glitter, markers, colored pencils, etc, ribbon, etc.
- Go outside and collect little pebbles/stones for the maracas. The bigger they are, the bigger the sound (and the smaller they are, the smaller the sound).
- Clean them off really nicely and let dry.
- Have the kids decorate the outside of their plates (the papery-side, not the shiny side).
- When done, have the students collect the pebbles and place inside one paper plate.
- Lay the decorated side of the paper plate up on the other paper plate.
- Staple along the ridges of the paper plate.
SO easy! And lots of fun/rewarding 🙂
For the claves:
- (per student) two decently sized and thick sticks (not thin or water logged, sticks that won’t break easily)
- paint, glue, glitter, markers, colored pencils, etc, ribbon, etc.
- Go into the woods and find some decently sized sticks like I suggested.
- Saw them down to make an equal size.
- Have the kids sand them down so they are nice and smooth with no divots.
- Have the kids decorate them
- Presto! Instant claves!
I will post up more information on what to do with your new-fangled instruments later 🙂
One of my chorus students, upon seeing me, screamed (in happiness) “Mrs. Prindiville!” and then proceeded to laugh hysterically while trying to ask me a question about auditions. I responded to her question about auditions and added “It’s okay that you screamed. I would rather have kids excited to see me than have them run away in the other direction”. That proceeded to make her laugh even louder.
Okay, so while I am waiting for inspiration to clean my living room, I am inspired to write a post about advocacy.
*groan* I know, I know. As I tell people, everyone should just WANT to be involved in music and life would be peachy and our choruses would be filled with eager voices and our bands would be overflowing with tubas, saxophones, flutes and the like.
However, life is not like that. We need kids in our music programs. What do we do?
Promote, advocate, beg and any other synonym that comes to mind when it comes to figuring out what is the best course of action to get kids involved. But does it have to be just the teachers? Heck no.
Get the kids already in the ensembles to do the dirty work! That’s right, have the kids who like to participate in chorus and band do the advocating themselves. Why? Because THEY know what other kids who are on the edge of joining/not joining band or chorus are thinking because they’ve been their themselves.
Here are some ideas/suggestions to get the ball rolling.
- Instrumental Demonstrations in Schools: Grab several students who happen to play different instruments, write out scores to familiar songs for their specific instruments (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Rocky Theme, Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly, whatever theme) and go to elementary schools (or just to different classrooms that within the next school year, is able to participate in an instrumental program) and have the kids demonstrate their instruments. The kids who are watching love to hear familiar songs and they like to see kids who they might know performing, too!
- Instrumental Petting Zoo: Set up an evening where the music company, that kids rent instruments from, set up demonstrations for kids and they can try out different instruments. Before they leave, have the kids fill out forms citing their 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice for instruments and submit it to you.
- Depending on what kind of chorus you teach (middle, elementary or high school), get your chorus performing at the younger schools. Perform a couple of songs, then play some fun chorus games with them. It gets the students who are on the fence a better scope of what chorus can really be about.
- Perform WITH a younger chorus! I’m a middle school chorus teacher and next year, one of my choruses is going to perform with an elementary school chorus in the same town because it’s a GREAT way to get the kids who are most likely to join the program, actually get a sneak peek beforehand.
For both band and chorus:
- Create a video! Have your band/chorus students interview each other as to why they should join band/chorus, why they personally joined band/chorus, what do you do in band/chorus, etc. Video record a rehearsal, video record performances, etc. Mash it together, add some fun music in the background and poof! Great advocacy video 🙂
I would LOVE to hear more ideas from you 🙂 Leave a comment on what you do to get the movers and shakers of today’s youth into our music program!
Not trying to make her blush, but one of my friend’s from college, KT, is a GURU at music technology and is always on the cutting edge of the latest happenings on the world of technology and how it impacts students’ learning inside and outside the music classroom. She is a great inspiration to me and inspires me to learn more about this so-called “technology” that I think is a fad 🙂
Well, I have no idea actually how to begin this.
That’s helpful, isn’t it? Here you are, taking the time away from your lives to read a blog where the person who started the blog has no idea where to start, how to start or even what she wants to talk about. Riiiiiiiight.
Okay, I sort of know what I should do. I should probably explain on what makes me a not-so-average music teacher. Hence, the name of the blog, right? Well, I’m a music teacher (not so average), but I am more than that. I am a listener of students’ woes and worries, triumphs and happy occasions. I am a director, giving directions and cues as to what the students should do, when they should do it. I am a cheerleader, shouting with enthusiasm every time the students get something right in music. I am a nurse, tending to those with bruised egos when they don’t get the coveted solo. I am a counselor, encouraging students to find a different way to channel their emotions and feelings into music. I am an assignment book, reminding students of upcoming concerts, rehearsals, auditions and homework.
Most importantly, I am a music teacher. I teach students the value of music, where it belongs in our world and what we should all do with our wonderful gifts to make the world a more exciting place.
For those of you who are reading this blog, teacher or not, I think you will find yourself in more than one of these categories.
And that’s what makes us not so average.