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Q&A for Teachers

From 2007-2010, TMEA members asked and answered over 300 questions featured in a Southwestern Musician article series called "Tutti". Over 3,000 answers were submitted by TMEA members in response to practical questions ranging from pedagogy to fundraising. This bank of valuable knowledge and experience is available here and is searchable by topic and/or magazine issue.

Listed below are answers and questions published in the May 2010 issue of Southwestern Musician. If you would like to view another issue's questions and answers, select an issue from the drop down box and click "Go".

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Band

What has been most important in helping retain students after they complete their first year in a band class and/or after they move into high school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010
Play music that is not only a challenge, but interesting to the student.

Submitted by: wilbur l. collins
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After 30 years of teaching, I am convinced that band students must have an enjoyable experience on a daily basis. As a rule, students will not quit doing what they enjoy. Directors must challenge students, maintain classroom discipline, and make learning music and playing a musical instrument a very enjoyable experience. Communication with parents is also a necessity. When they believe the teacher cares about their children, parents will encourage their kids to stick with it.

Submitted by: Don Thoede
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Students perform in annual recruiting concerts. They look forward to returning to their home elementary school to show off what they have learned. Students enjoy performing in concerts. We present our top group at as many events as possible. Our beginning band students look forward to a festival followed by a pizza party. Our older students enjoy attending festivals as well as going to a theme park. These activities keep them involved and in band from year to year.

Submitted by: Victoria Watson
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Success in playing their instrument is key. Directors must have a can-do, positive attitude. Students need to have some good friends in the program. We must keep our best students for others to look up to. Performing well-received concerts is also important, as are out of town trips for high schoolers.

Submitted by: Gary Mosse
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Students are in the band hall before and after school. It’s the place to be. They have a hard time picturing themselves not being there. We always help students envision themselves at the next level by doing a full band tour in January and telling them this is what is ahead. In addition, we have a mentor program that matches 7th/8th grade students with a 6th grader. This allows the younger students to know the older ones and not be afraid to continue. We show how fun the program is by performing at pep rallies and football games. This also seems to make students want to be at the next level.

Submitted by: Leigh Ann McClain
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Some directors are more interested in how far the student can go vs. whether or not he/she is enjoying band. What is disconcerting to me this year is that coworkers are using pass off exercises ( particular exercises in the book) to reflect the students ability. The students are only able to play the pass off items rather than the other exercises in bool. Instead of presenting a topic, explaining it thoroughly, and assigning homework on it ( the page which incorporates the topic) the directors go over the topic, have one student model if possible ( if not the teacher models) all the students play from rote and then the teacher moves on in the book. For me this is poor teaching but I am too low in the shuffle to complain. I emailed a friend who stated that this is the new trend. Students have already come to me stating that they are lost.
Do not publish identifying information- this will affect my job

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Make sure that the student is not overwhelmed with band activities. This is especially true for students involved in extracurricular activities and/or in advanced placement/international baccalaureate curriculum classes.

Submitted by: Michael Gibson
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Connecting them with another band student in a mentor system is effective. It has been my experience that developing relationships in band tends to keep students involved. Those students who do not develop friendships tend to have an easier time quitting.

Submitted by: Roger Duran
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1st year students; providing the students an opportunity to succeed and giving them a feeling of contributing to the over all success of their band.

H.S. students; continuing with the objectives as stated above as well as focusing on a wide range of music literature not just music to be used at contest. Providing a very wide range of musical literature for the students to perform and not just music to be used at UIL competitions.

Submitted by: Ron McWilliams
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The most important has been being able to get a good raport with the parents of the students as well as the students themselves. Communication is key. Almost every parent that we talk to has helped to encourage their child to stay with our music program.

Submitted by: Sigifredo Sanchez
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We have found that the most important thing is for students to feel a sense of personal accomplishment. Many times it is not tied to what we as teachers think is important. It is a very real sense that students have that what they did mattered to them or someone who cared about them. At Chavez HS, we strive to make each student successful in such a way that the student can make sense of it in his or her world. Respect, rigor, and relevance are the keys to retaining students in any program. ­

Submitted by: Stanford Lewis
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They must like the director under whom they receive the most instruction.

Submitted by: Jeffrey Otto
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The most important thing to know is how much fun they had in their first and to show them how much fun they will have in the years to come. In our junior high, we have "band managers" that help the high school during marching season. These are primarily seventh and eighth graders that need more out of band than just scales and all-region. They help with all football games and marching festivals. By the time they hit high school, they understand the meaning of teamwork and realize how important they are as individuals.

Submitted by: W. Roger Munoz
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A student’s desire to stay in band varies based on their interest and motivation. Gifted and/or advanced students will stay because of their self-imposed incentives. Average players (the plain old “good kids”) who make up the majority of the band are where we should focus our attention. These kids stay because band is fun, band is friends, and band is a source of pride and respect. They get these feelings from their teachers as much as their peers. Directors who inject a spirit of enthusiasm in the group and in the music will retain most students.

Submitted by: Harlan Yenne
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Hard to answer. I believe that we, as humans, have a "hero" button internally, and when we push that button frequently, the students will want to be a part of band. When we only push that button once or twice a year and constantly "criticize" their performance, they will choose activities that push their button.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Having older students come and speak to the classes to explain what they can expect in their future band carreers and "pump up" the excitement.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Our students know that they can start participating in contest and help with loading crew for our high school band. They also know it's only one more year after this and they will be part of the marching band and get to go on the football trips and contest.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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we have required band for 5th,6th and 7th grade band. We are moving towards 8th grade required band. This has its good and bad sides-but holds the kids in band and because of dropping enrollment fits the principals schedule needs. Down side is it holds in the bad attitudes that just don't like it; but it holds good kids that end up liking band but would not stay because the pull of the ones that want out. When they get with the others they tend to stay.

Submitted by: dan mccasland
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Make your students a part of the family. Have activities where all students are made to feel welcome. This way they feel like they are an essential part of the team. Reward students not only for big achievements but also for the little things they do to help every day.

Submitted by: David M. Rodriguez
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We have an end of year field trip to Schlitterbahn South Padre Island each year for beginner band members. They must have signed up for band the following year to qualify.

Submitted by: James Keltner
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Communication is the key to any great relationship, be it a marriage, a sports team, or a band program. The first thing I do is establish a monthly band newsletter with information about the program. Next build a website so parents can go online to know exactly what is going on (building a website is very easy using Microsoft Office Live). Third and most important is personal phone calls and messages. Call parents to let them know how great their child is. Write notes to students to let them know how great they are doing. Communication is the key.

Submitted by: Osley Cook
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The two most important factors in student retention for band are availability of instruments and passing of both academics and the TAKS test.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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Helping the students experience as sense of success and improvement.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Make students feel that band is a family and hold them accountable to each other.

Submitted by: Dionisio P. Martinez Jr.
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Orchestra

What has been most important in helping retain students after they complete their first year in an orchestra class and/or after they move into high school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010
In my case, it is making sure that you keep the same energy and the same love of music for next year as you would during the previous year. I have always heard that some people lose their numbers because it gets boring and i think that one should be able to keep the same energy and try new and different things to make sure that you retain the same people in your program.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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The most important thing in helping retain students is to keep challenging them. You must also keep your programming varied and current (classical, contemporary, pop/rock). I have also found it helpful to create traditions that honor the students for their dedication and hard work over the years.

Submitted by: Shari Allison
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The most important ingredient is your sincerity—that you want to teach your students for their sake, not your own; that you want them to do well and achieve greatly for their sake, not your own; and that you want them back for the collective good in which you both share. If a student tells me that they may drop, I simply tell them that I respect the fact that it had to be a very hard decision on their part and tell them they are always welcome in my room and will be welcomed back if schedules work out. Often, showing them this respect rather than concern only with my own agenda results in their return.

Submitted by: Frank (Bud) Woodruff
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First look at your recruitment strategies to make sure that all is in place. Who is on what instrument, and are they still happy in January? Keeping students interested by making them feel like they belong is the key in our district. This means we keep them involved with our middle and high school concerts and activities. These activities broaden their perspective on what’s to come and align teaching strategies and fellowship between campuses. I also keep families informed through our webpages, parent organization, and phone calls.

Submitted by: suellen davis
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I have often heard it said that students will not care until they know you care about them. It took some time to understand what that meant, but now I get it. I must build a relationship of knowing and caring about individual students so they know I care about their success in life. They mean much more to me than simply being another member of the viola section. I think it also helps to spotlight the seniors in the group to build respect and honor from the younger students. They share leadership responsibilities whenever possible. When juniors look forward to being seniors in the orchestra and couldn’t dream of quitting, then the sophomores won’t dream of quitting, and freshmen will begin to realize that there must be something special about being in the orchestra.

Submitted by: Marla Maletic
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Students have to feel they have achieved something worthwhile in their first year. Those who perceive they have gained something or succeeded are the ones who continue on into the next year. It is also helpful to advertise exactly what they will be doing next year - more "real music," social activities, etc.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Students need to make a connection during their first year of orchestra, whether with the teacher, other students, or with their instrument (or all three!).
Moving into high school, students who have participated in orchestra have come to know their classmates for one or more years and look forward to having at least one class with someone they know (and hopefully like). Giving students the opportunity to develop those relationships is important to retention. Schedule additional time outside of class to allow students to get together to have fun and develop opportunities to foster new friendships (with chaperones).

Submitted by: Julie Daniels
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In high school, and I suspect in all other areas, students want to know someone cares about them. As the director, I do everything I can to make sure that each musician knows they are important to me, not because they play an instrument, but because they are a precious human being. There is no guarantee they will stay in orchestra, but it is a guarantee they will feel better about themselves as people. And people tend to gravitate to where they are loved and respected!

Submitted by: David Mairs
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I believe our success in retention after the freshman year is based on students feeling successful and challenged in their respective orchestra, regardless of the level. They also develop a sense of community and make new friends when coming to high school. While it is a giant step forward in terms of literature, teaching fundamentals required for a successful high school experience at the beginning of the year will help guarantee that success. We also have a separate freshman orchestra for those who did not audition into chamber orchestra. The freshman orchestra is mixed with the non-varsity orchestra the second half of the year; however, some students progress to a sufficient level to be contributing members of the chamber orchestra and are assigned there.

Submitted by: Bart Ghent
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I think retention is mainly due to the social connections that are formed throughout the year and a positive feeling
of accomplishment in learning to play the instrument. If the
students like the class, the teacher, enjoy learning to make music on their instrument and feel successful, they usually want to continue the experience.

Submitted by: Carlene Behmer
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Choosing music students enjoy; giving them somewhat of a voice in that process.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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To retain the students we try to provide both the social activities and performance opportunities where all of our students have a chance to socialize and perform together.

Submitted by: Tanner Ledford
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If the students are familiar with the teacher in the higher grades they are more likely to remain in the program. If they feel successful in their current situation they are more likely to continue playing their instrument. Directors who work together to make students feel that the lower grades are an integral part of the entire program through joint concerts and social events usually have more success in retaining those students throughout their time in public schools. Just being visible as the high school director to the younger students can help them decide to remain in orchestra.

Submitted by: Patrick Leaverton
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The two most important factors in student retention for orchestra are availability of instruments and passing of both academics and the TAKS test.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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Build a solid foundation of posture, position,note reading, rhythm, bowing skills, and left hand technique and those first year students will go right into the second year of study!

Submitted by: Dixie Addington
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Students who own their own instruments are far more likely to return to orchestra. Beginners usually come back if I have communicated regularly with their parents. I frequently talk about what they will be doing next year. An overnight trip for All Region Orchestra helps a great deal.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Vocal

What has been most important in helping retain students after they complete their first year in a choir class and/or after they move into high school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010
Disney! We participate in Disney's Magic Music Days every-other year. It never gets old. They get to go twice during their high school years and I plan the trips myself with the travel help from Academic Travel(who incidentally has a booth at TMEA and TCDA every year.It keeps them coming back, year after year and they love telling the 8th graders about it during our recruiting tour.

Submitted by: Tina Bernard
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I believe the most effective way to keep students in the choir program is to make them feel successful both individually and as a choir (team). This means the director must teach in a way that students are being equipped individually and collectively as better musicians and team members.

Submitted by: Dudley McMahan
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Relationships

Submitted by: Karla Cruz
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Program quality music that challenges, but doesn't overwhelm your singers, and they'll keep coming back year after year.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Focus on the progress already made with indication of future success. Have connection with teacher at next level.

Submitted by: Andrew Lenz
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When students feel valued by you and believe you care for them, the probability of them returning is very high, regardless of any special things you do. As many directors do, we perform a show of “fun music” at the end of the year. In February, the choir brainstorms on thematic ideas, ultimately voting on the show theme (obviously, the music has to be available) and then gives me song ideas to research. Our choir banquet is also a time to celebrate success and have fun. For many students who can’t afford to go to prom, this is their big event. We keep the cost reasonable and do what we can to dress it up. As for retention into high school, the junior high director is critical. If singers have a positive junior high experience, they are much more likely to stay in choir. I currently go to the junior high daily to work with the wonderful director at my only feeder school. This establishes strong relationships with the students prior to them making these retention decisions.

Submitted by: John Tucker
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I believe the most important factor has been in building a relationship with the students. It is difficult to keep boys in choir. For those who play sports, I go to some of their games to show my interest in their lives. When they make their schedules for the next year, I speak with each member and try to convince them of their importance to the choral program. I also am trying more to get to know them in middle school so they will be more comfortable when they start high school choir. I tell them in middle school that since they have to take a year of fine arts, they might as well try it their freshman year and if they don’t like it they can leave, but I am having a good rate of success in keeping students all four years.

Submitted by: Davd Vehon
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One thing I have noticed that encourages students to stay in choir is participating in UIL solo and ensemble contest. It gives us the opportunity to give each student personalized vocal coaching and it fosters relationships with the students in a less formal setting than in class. The preparation, plus the positive critique from the judge, is very motivating, especially when students do well. It hooks them, and they can’t wait for next year’s solo or ensemble.

Submitted by: Rosemary Whittle
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To put it in business terms, there has to be a good cost/benefit ratio. They have to believe that the opportunities presented to them—the instruction they will be given and ultimately the results of their efforts—are worth the cost of time and money that they will have to give. Am I programming literature that will challenge and inspire the students and me? Do members of all groups feel important, or just the top (or more specifically the pop) group? Are there reasons for my students to want to be in the room and in the class? Do I make them want to be here? These are the questions that need to be asked, answered, and analyzed often.

Submitted by: Robert Draper
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Know your music. Dedicate the necessary score study time. Find the best scores and composers for each specific choir. Know your singers’ abilities well and select music that will challenge but not overwhelm them. Can you surprise your choir on a daily basis? Do you know and love your scores so much that they are inspiring to open and study on a daily basis and thus you find new and inspiring ways to teach them? Are you teaching to the visual, the aural, and the kinesthetic learner? Are there certain kinds of repertoire or composers you avoid because you are afraid that you can’t teach them well? Add one of these pieces every year!

Submitted by: Richard Bjella
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Making sure the student knows how important they are to the Choir and helping them in planning for the events that they will be performing in. I try to give them something to look forward to as well as show them how to prepare over the summer break.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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In our small school, the programs and the attention they draw bring students back. They must think the music is fun. Even making a difficult piece fun can keep them engaged. Students are also more apt to stay if they feel they are a part of the group dynamic. There is nothing worse than feeling you are not a part of the whole. So I work to support sections and give students the chance to be a part of the whole process.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Jernigan
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Sing great music! Don’t sing only pop songs just because the kids like them. They may not sound as good with an SATB choir as they did on the radio. Last year, for our end-of-year concert, students requested more Monteverdi. Don’t sell them short. They are good singers who love good music and they won’t get this in any other school organization.

Submitted by: Chris Hutchison
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One of the most important retention strategies for our choir has been the inclusion of a variety of area church visits. The choir offers special music during the service. I always make arrangements for the church hospitality group to provide a meal for the choir after the service. I find that the students bond throughout this process. It is also a wonderful recruitment tool and a community service.

Submitted by: Jennifer Wise
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The two most important factors in student retention for band are availability of materials needed and passing of both academics and the TAKS test.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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The level of a student's commitment to music and/or to the program is the most important aspect in retention. Though students may complete their first year with success and enjoyment, unless they feel that they can contribute to the quality of the group or that the program can contribute to their future in school, they won't continue.

Submitted by: Susan Mendel
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I think that the most important element in retaining students after the first year is creating positive and fun learning environment, offering the opportunity to learn many different styles of music and the ability to perform them well. Showing them that music offers a great deal of future opportunity in career and college resources. What encourages them to continue through high school is a HS teacher that continues to challenge them with more learning the opportunities, college scholarships through music and more performing events that allow them to travel.

Submitted by: Wanda Verdun
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Elementary

How do you deal with large classes (45 students or more)? What strategies work for discipline and teaching your music objectives/TEKS (including instructing on Orff, dance, and games)?
Submitted by: Michele Hobizal, Answered in: May 2010
When my schedule required teaching double homerooms daily, we started the year with a discussion in each class about how to make the class safe, fun, and so everyone could get a turn. I turned the kids ideas into our classroom rules, and they bought into it. It's harder with less space and time for turns, so we use "the bubble game" a lot (staying in your own personal space no matter what or you are out). Games sometimes require two circles instead of one, dances sometimes require students to take turns and be my "watchers" to watch for those doing their best. My biggest challenge was recorder groups, simply because of space. I was lucky in that I was able to use the hallway or stage attached to my room for trustworthy groups, and this helped me get more trustworthy students because they all wanted to work on the stage.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Shier
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Plan on less activities so all students participate
Strive for materials which will apply to your class.
Don't teach down: choose quality examples of music-not "canned" music.
Use seating charts/learn students names.
Set up-if possible-so no students sit behind another.

Submitted by: Gary Mosse
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I found a great tool to use for discipline in my classes from the Music K-8 magazine several years ago. As the students come in the classroom they earn beats, 1-5 according to how quiet and orderly they are. A different team captain puts "beats" on a staff each day. As they leave the same team captain puts up beats again given for class participation and behavior. At the end of the 6 weeks, they earn a "party" if they have reached their goal of 10, 12 or more times around the board(24 total beats on the board). A "party" is a day that I let them choose. Usually a movie(music related ,of course), a game that pertains to something we have learned, or singing favorite songs.
For teaching Orff, I use "Mallet Madness" by Artie Almeida. The instruments are placed in the order of wood, metal, skin, and they rotate through several instruments and many students get to play. I highly recommend it!

Submitted by: Carla Lowery
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With classes that are large, trying to keep the discipline in the classroom is tough. I think that if you set the rules of the class, consequences for breaking the rules and rewards for following the rules, at the beginning of the year and be CONSISTENT about the rules, you should have a smooth running class.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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Having a precise lesson plan in place is a MUST. Discipline issues pop up most frequently when students have "down time". Greet the class(es) at the door and start before you've crossed to the front of the room. Also, I call anyone requiring more extensive redirection to the hall to speak. This gives them privacy (for pride) and removes their influence from the room. I stand just inside the door to speak with them, work quickly, and return to the room asap in order to prevent the dreaded "down time".

Submitted by: Kimberly Stephenson
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I put my students into groups of four to manage them easier. Each group is responsible for their behavior and need to work together as a group. If one chooses not to do the 'right' thing they all suffer the consequence, or they all get a reward for a good choice. I also do alot of Kagan activities. I particularly like "Numbered Heads Together" and play that as a game in itself. I also break up my instrument groups for Orff arrangements into different stations that incorporate about 8 students each. Then they rotate from station to station. Often one of the stations is just singing. The kids love this because they know that eventually they will get to play the instrument they want.

Submitted by: Tamara Kahler
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The single most important factor to avoid discipline problems is to have a well prepared lesson where the pacing moves smoothly from one activity to another. I have established routines in place for making circles, making lines for turns on the Orff instruments and also how we will treat each other when we divide into pairs for dancing. This avoids wasted time getting into position. We almost always start with a warmup. This moves to the lesson objective (preparing for a new pitch or rhythm, presenting the element or reviewing an element) and extending this through a game, dance or instrument pattern that reinforces the element. If my group is large, I let the students help me adapt our games so we have room to play. Most of my students come to me after sitting in class, so movement, standing to sing, fun warmups, etc.result in focusing their energies.

Submitted by: Margaret Hubbard
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I get to see my 4th and 5th graders once a week. The classes are 50+ each. Discipline is a challenge. I get good help from homeroom teachers who stay in the background and keep their eyes open. I also keep moving around the room. The students never know when I might be standing right next to them. I also frequently and randomly call on individuals to demonstrate for me and the class something we just covered. This helps to keep them focused, because they never know when they may be in the "hot seat". Keep things fast moving with lots of energy and the kids won't have time to do anything else.

Submitted by: Harlan Yenne
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Be passionate about music and you job. Be prepared. Have a plan. Structure, structure, structure. Seating charts. Learn their names. Use their names. Be energetic without making the kids crazy. Be ready to change directions to fit the group. Establish classroom procedures early and revisit often. Be consistent. Be nice. Be fun. Keep them busy; no down time. Don't waste their time. We don't get enough time with our students as it is.

Submitted by: Larry Shudra
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One way is to split the class into teams [2 or more]. One group is the audience and the other the performers. In play sometimes children sit out and watch until their turn. Waiting turns is a learning experience. Little Ms./Mr. Wiggles can stand and hold a basket or something so they think they are helping.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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From my experience in TMEA Convention classes, rotating short activites very quickly seems to work. Busy, busy! That should be your motto. Move fast and keep the variety coming! Artie Almeida has some great "quickie" recorder activities in her "Recorder Express" book. I especially like the rotating personnel lines of "BAG" notes, like a relay, in which each line of students is assigned one note and plays only that one while following an overhead. This idea would also work for Orff and even for singing! Also, the Boomwhackers and "found sound" activities from Hal Leonard are good. The key is to keep rotating students out, so that some play, while others sing or clap rhythms.
Good luck!

Submitted by: Rebecca Kyriakides
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The first couple of weeks of school before we go into the lesson we chant the rules almost rap like and use some motions to help them remember them better. Later we chant them when needed. Each month for the older kids, we warm up with a different song(usually patriotic),do about twenty jumping jacks,and then go on with the lesson. It seems to break the stresses from their other classes and they are ready to go on with the lesson.The younger students have the same routine-jumping jacks, sing "Welcome Back to School", from the pink Kindergarten book in Silver Burdett(or use your own welcome song)sing a patriotic song and then go on with class. They all seem to love the routine and knowing what comes next. To keep them invloved and on task we always sing, use instruments in some way, do partner game or dance and read rhythms. Think of it in a church mentality-- stand awhile ,sit awhile, move around the room in a game/with partner( or simply walking in a line to put away books or instruments)keeps them focused and engaged.

Submitted by: LInda Thrower
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We have begun using a team approach that we got from another music teacher. The class is divided into teams that are accountable to each other. There are competitions based on the concepts. It also helps for dividing the groups (Team 1 - instruments, Team 2 - Singers, Team 3 - dancers etc.) when we are doing some of the more comples Orff activities. We have used station activities such as Science of Sound with the older groups as well.

Submitted by: Nancy L. Bransom
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Develop your periphal vision so that you can call someone to task without looking at them. Use a "drum major" voice in unsafe situations. Occasionally a new person will come in and start misbehaving. I call a time-out, have everyone sit down for a moment, and I go stand/sit next to the offender and very, very quietly tell him/her that the other kids and I don't appreciate the lack of respect being shown, "so do you think you could get on the learning train with us, and respect our classroom so that we can respect YOU?" A subdued "yes, ma'am" is followed with teacher proximity for several minutes, then a little "I need to go help someone else, can you work on your own now?" Most kids appreciate the growth of trust like that and very few problems continue.

Submitted by: Linda Richter
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I have not found a solution for classes of that size to learn anything beyond vocal technique.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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My normal class size is usually between 30 and 35 students however there are times when I have had up to 50 students in one class. Because I teach all the students music at our school, dealing with this many students has not posed much of a difficulity because all the students know me. The challenge in teaching this many students in an elementary music classroom is having enough instruments to go around. In that case, I will have students pair up on instruments and I will have them repeat the warm-up exercises or music so everyone has a turn at playing.

Submitted by: Phil Dembski
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We work mainly out of the adopted textbook and it does a pretty good job. I often questions their choice of songs and can think of many better choices-but maybe they could not get permission from copyright holders. Discipline problems are taken care of immediately and rewards are given to those (and only those) who earned them. I usually use animal crackers. The Computer and PE teachers use free time while the others do lessons.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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45 students is too many to teach and have anything stick to their memory. I teach notes, rhythm, along with terminology and for it to work, you need just a classroom - 22 - 27. Discipline - if they can not follow instructions or are talking during instructions, they will not play instruments. Also, it goes on conduct grade. For 5th graders, if students do not have a good conduct grade, they cannot play percussion in the 6th grade.

Submitted by: Janet Rowden
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What strategies do you use to encourage students to join band, orchestra, or choir in middle school?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010
My thinking has always been success breeds success both on the competition end of the choral class and on the social aspect of being a member of such a team. Being a member of a good choir team means that other students that are not supports minded or such get the same benefit that a sports team does.

Submitted by: Dudley McMahan
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Talk it up! In our district, our fifth graders take an aptitude test that gets reported to the middle school music teachers. I always tell students that these directors don’t care how they do, it just helps them guide students to the instruments best suited for them. My choir performs a concert with the middle school choir in the fall and the band comes and plays for the students around Christmas (about the time they make their elective choices). Our feeder middle school has added a class period so that students can take band and choir if they are passing their TAKS subjects, so that is always good to let them know! Communication with the middle school directors is the key.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Shier
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A concert from your Band at each Elementary. Demo instruments.
A Standard Music test. Results usually only show the person's interest in music.
The test usually has questions which point out students who will help your program.
Visit classes if possible so they can meet you.
Send letters to students with good scores with a chance for them to indicate their choice in Band.
Follow up.

Submitted by: Gary Mosse
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The band and choir directors come to our school to talk to the students about their programs. Last year, the band director brought students with their instruments. My students really enjoyed getting to see the instruments and hear what they sound like. He returned another day to find out what they wanted to play and sign them up for band. The choir director encourages students to choose band if there is a chance they want to play an instrument. They can join choir later, but cannot start band later. I teach students about instruments so that by the time the directors come, students have almost decided. The students know instruments by name, sight, and most by sound.

Submitted by: Carla Lowery
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In our district the middle school groups come to the elementary schools to give concerts a couple of times a year. Students usually get very excited about the prospect of joining any of those groups in sixth grade. Many of our elementary schools also have a fifth grade string program, which meets two or three times a week every week. Usually, the director is from a nearby middle school. I encourage fifth graders to learn the basics, which will help them be a stronger student in the middle school group of their choice.

Submitted by: Lori Rockwell
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I begin speaking about music ensembles in the fourth grade when they are eligible to enter our drumming and/or choir programs. It plants the seeds early.

Submitted by: Kimberly Stephenson
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Present mini-concerts for incoming students.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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I produce a video each year and show the 8th graders what they have to look forward to. When they see their old friends in the video, they often find that the band isn't as scary as they may have once thought. I also try to be present at their performances so they see that I am engaged in their band career.

Submitted by: Roger Duran
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We introduce different instruments in the fifth grade. We have concerts with the sixth grade band at their campus. We communicate with the parents by sending them information on how to register their child for band and how beneficial music will be for them in the long run.

Submitted by: Sigifredo Sanchez
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We do a Percussion Extravaganza and if we have picked entertaining pieces, than that is usually a huge recruiting tool. The other is to go get these students when they are in Elementary School.

Submitted by: Jeffrey Otto
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I never pass up an opportunity to mention what is available to the students in the coming years. I often say, “If you thought that was fun wait till you get in _____.” I encourage students who show promise on recorders or rhythm instruments to think about trying the more challenging instruments of the band and orchestra. A little praise can do a great deal to motivate them to pursue further musical adventures.

Submitted by: Harlan Yenne
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Talk about it often. The more good information they have, the better decisions they will make. Take away their unfounded fears. Regularly bring in excellent middle school students. They are likely familiar faces to your current students. Be sure to prep your guests in advance on what to say and perform if their director has not. If your students are good at rhythm, can read a little, and enjoy music, they will be successful in middle school music groups. Tell them that!

Submitted by: Larry Shudra
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It is important to stress to students the possibilities of continuing and building on their musical experience in middle, intermediate, and high school (and even beyond in college and community ensembles). There is a place for everyone in music after elementary school, whether it is in band, choir, or orchestra. Making sure students know what choices they have and what the instruments sound like alone and in an ensemble is important to their decision-making. It all boils down to the elementary music teacher setting the stage for middle school directors through ensuring students are aware of the possibilities.

Submitted by: Cora Bigwood
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One to one discussion. Use the students that are excited about your choir to spread the word, sing at the middle school, outreach to the community. Sing at ball games, go the games, to many school functions.

Know your community, your school. What is the ethnic make up of the school or community? Are you honoring those cultures in your literature selection. Are you utilizing all of the wonderful teachers around you to enrich the students through THEIR expertise (i.e. history teacher, a language consultant, a poet, a theatre guru). Involve your parents, get their input, build a coalition of people that will support and help you grow in many ways beyond music.

Submitted by: Richard Bjella
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In a small school this is difficult. Often they think music will be a class that is a chance for them to play, but soon they learn that they will have to study music in a choir class. To encourage them I usually design a trip for choir students at the end of the year. Something fun.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Jernigan
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Do recruiting concerts and again, have existing band members talk to other students to encourage them and let them know how fun being in band can be.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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When you introduce a new concept, relate it to how they will use it when they are in middle school. Secondly, instruction on a pre-band instrument (recorder or other) helps greatly. When students are comfortable with eye-hand coordination in relation to notation, they are more likely to try it on another instrument. Finally, try to have former students come for a school visit to show off their new instruments, what the parts are, how to play them, etc. Seeing the “big kids” makes a difference.

Submitted by: Norm Sands
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band is required- we are a small school so during that period there is nothing else offered.

Submitted by: dan mccasland
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You should visit music elementary classes if possible. Do a big show and tell. When students visit middle school campus for orientation, play a short concert and re-introduce instruments. Let your students talk up the instruments. Have clipboards handy and sign them up with home phone so you can reach parents. Post flyers for auditions in elementary school halls. Send home invitations to parents and students so you can have confirmation of parental support.

Submitted by: David M. Rodriguez
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We have our 7th and/or 8th grade jazz band perform for each elementary feeder school. During the concert we recognize each athlete, cheerleader, and other multi-talented student who is also a band member.

Submitted by: James Keltner
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I have our junior high students perform for the fifth graders, I make a presentation which is playful and informative, and I believe the "word of mouth" of friends
and family is also powerful.

Submitted by: Carlene Behmer
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We share our own experiences in those groups and show them that these groups do fun and exciting things. For band and orchestra, we have a collection of instruments and do a show-and-tell class to give them a taste of the different sounds and challenges they can enjoy in playing an instrument. Some years these strategies work and some years they do not.

Submitted by: Nancy L. Bransom
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As a middle school director, I walked to every 6th grade classroom during the first two weeks of school. I give information about the band and all the great trips we take. Also I take pictures and video of the things we have done in previous years.
After I build the interest, I allow each student to type his/her own name and parents phone number into my lap top and I spend the following weekend contacting every parent of these children informing them of the interest of their child. I invite them to meet with me personally and together we make it happen.

Submitted by: Osley Cook
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I have formed a working relationship with the middle school directors and they meets with all the students to encourage them to join their groups. We also have combined feeder program concerts.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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I put signs up all over the building about auditions one - two weeks before one of our performances. I pubilicize any awards, currents students that have been awarded for music or former students that have been given awards for their music performances. I also encourage the students who enjoy the class the most to go out and tell their friends about how much fun they are having. WE ALSO PLAY MANY MUSIC GAMES!! The kids love them!!! example: solfege bingo, trashkit ball, name that tune(solfege)etc.

Submitted by: Wanda Verdun
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I make sure they attend the "Cookies and Carols" recruiting event at one of the middle schools right before Christmas. I also have organized an elementary choir elective, and treat it just like middle school choir. I rearranged my Thursday class schedule to accomodate rehearsing during school, and they love it! (I asked 3 Thursday afternoon classes to split into fourths, and send one fourth on Monday, another on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. This open up Thursday afternoon for choir from 3 grade levels.) The teachers were happy to do it, and students may then opt to come to music AND choir, with PE only three times, instead of coming to music only once and PE four times.
I also constantly "plug" band by comparing the ensemble playing we do in class to playing in band.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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In addition to the many listening exercises in the textbook, ie.,an excerpt from Star Wars with listening map, and many other orchestral and band works that are fun to listen to, every year I take our fifth graders to a performance given by The Houston symphony. With my background in percussion performance, I give instruction mostly in percussion as well as play snare drum or keyboard percussion for my fourth and fifth grade students. They really enjoy listening to me play and always ask about learning to play percussion or some other instrument. I tell them that they'll have the oportunity when they get into Middle School. They get excited when I tell them that.

Submitted by: Phil Dembski
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I bring my combined middle school and high school orchestra to play for the 5th (and sometimes 4th) graders at the 3 feeder elementary schools for my middle school, in December. I present the orchestra program at 6th grade parent orientations held during the spring.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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I use this phrase regularly: "When you get to middle school, and you're in the (band, choir, orchestra), you'll
......." I never say IF; always WHEN.

Submitted by: Winnell Chinn
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I teach all in my class. We have those 3 to come and sing/play for the 5th graders so that can be expose to all. I teach musical notes and learning notes so that they be well-learned in any of the three.

Submitted by: Janet Rowden
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College

What requirements are on the piano proficiency exams at your college/university?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: May 2010
2 years of class performance; passing a performance test on piano.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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How does your school fund travel costs for your performing ensemble when they are accepted via audition to perform at a state or national conference? (for large or small ensembles)
Submitted by: Sparky Koerner, Answered in: May 2010
My school district completely funded any organization going on to the state convention as they did athletic teams advancing on to state. When we were selected to represent the school district at the TMEA convention we were the first organization to ever advance that far in the schools history. I feel that when the school board and the school district saw the success of the organization, the large number in the group and the great success and camaraderie of the organization it set a great precedent for the whole school district what good kids with good teachers can do and so they felt they needed to completely support the effort.

Submitted by: Dudley McMahan
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All travel costs for any travel we undertake is borne by the parents. Honoraria from special performances are used to help those families for whom the financial burden would prohibit their child's participation.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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It is unfunded. We have to fund raise for such events. In 2005, the school board donated $5,000 of the needed $300,000 to get my band to participate in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Submitted by: Roger Duran
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We fund raise some of our funds, other is provided by the district

Submitted by: Elizabeth Jernigan
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Whiteface funds all state related travel. The band has to raise funds for all other travel. They will pay entry fees, buy the music, provide use of buses; but gas, hotels, meals etc have to be raised.

Submitted by: dan mccasland
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TMEA and UIL events are paid from the school budget. Other events must be funded by the organization unless special circumstances prevail, such as the National Association of School Boards convention performance a few years back.

Submitted by: James Keltner
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They do not; costs are paid for by the students and through fund raising oppurtunities.

Submitted by: Mozelle Bailey-Sulak
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Our district has a separate budget for what they call "All-State" performances of recognition. When a student(s) or group is accepted to perform, we submitt paperwork and thus far, the district covers the expense for the instructor(s) and student(s). Parents are not covered by our district.

Submitted by: Wanda Verdun
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We have none. We travel once a year for Christmas caroling at local businesses to promote goodwill.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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I am not sure. I think the district (through the fine arts supervisor)pays travel expenses.

Submitted by: Anonymous
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