Class Materials Content (Video)

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In this video we’re going to be covering class materials.  We’re going to be covering topics that are so important to the actual every day playing-in-classroom work you’ll be doing.  This is where the rubber hits the road.

Method Book

What method book, if any,are you going to use?  There are dozens out there, and you cannot take just one person’s word for what you should use–that’s their biased opinion.  You need to decide for yourself what you think is the best book for you, your school, and your students.  When you do decide, ask yourself “Why that particular book?”  You must know, as you’re going to be asking parents to invest in that book, so you have to know.  You don’t have to be limited to one book either.  But for investment purposes for the student, probably one method book.

Are the students going to have to play the items for you out of that book periodically?  If so, what is your system?  What numbers are they going to be required to play?  Are you going to require one item per week?  How are you going to test this?  What is your system? I’m going to ask you to consider looking at a system that I wrote to help kids make continual progress.  It gives you an opportunity to hold the student accountable, and it gives you an opportunity to give grades for them as well.  The book is called The Achievement System, and it’s published by Alfred publishing.  It ties all five of Alfred’s method books together into one system of accountability.  All three, books one through three, of the Accent on Achievements, as well as the Alfred Drum Method book, and the Alfred Music Theory System.

I wrote it to cover a period of three years for middle school.  It’s a very comprehensive system, and requires students to play certain items, clap certain items, and count–they have to clap and count aloud so that you can hear how they’re thinking about rhythms.  It also contains music theory tests, and requires various tuning exercises.  It requires percussion to learn snare drum, as well as mallets, and all of the various accessory instruments, and drum set.  It even requires the students to learn how to conduct so they can understand what you are doing up in the front of the band on that podium.  If you think this book will help you to find a solid system of accountability for your students, then check it out.  It gives students something right up front–a syllabus if you will–of things required for them to do, and to earn a grade in your class.  If you don’t like one of the required items that I have in the book, then simply cross it out and put in your own item.  If you don’t want the Alfred series, then use a different a different book, but keep this type of system as a model.

Teaching Content

What type of warm-ups are you going to be doing with a beginning band?  Keep in mind that they know a very little bit.  What about an intermediate band?  Or an advanced band?  You have to have warm-ups for all different levels of classes that you have.  Do you have specific warm-up activities or drills?  Do you have sound concepts you’re going to be working on each day and develop into a routine?

Do you have a specific set of instrumental sound concepts for each instrument?  Do you, the teacher?  Can you model those sound concepts?  Can you produce all those types of embouchures, and stick grips and things?  How are you going to teach the art of breathing?  Do you have specific drills or specific exercises for breathing?  Are you going to take the time to make lesson plans?  Do you realize that if you simply come up with a certain concept lesson plan, that you can use that concept lesson plan with any level, and just go on to greater depth at the higher levels?  You can use that sound concept lesson plan every single year because sound doesn’t change.  What about specific details of things you must go over in each class every day?  Plan things outWrite them down so you’re organized.

Are you going to use sound or video clips in your teaching?  Are you going to use any particular props that you can purchase and use continually over and over again?  Kids love creative lessons.  Entertain them and get your point across with entertainment.  Are your lessons student-involvement-based?  What activities are your students going to be doing in order to get a certain concept absorbed into their brains?  Are the students going to be DOING?  So as you’re thinking about the teaching content every day, keep in mind that when you teach conceptually, you only have to come up with that lesson plan once, and you can go into greater detail–a little detail with beginners, and then greater detail with the intermediate, and then with your advanced players even greater detail.

Put more responsibility on the upper kids, because they can do it. So come up with the concepts that you’re going to have to teach these, but I also ask you to hit the web page, and go under the musical laws, because there are various concepts that you have to work with students on in order for them to become accomplished musicians.  There are ideas like “Why does a professional sound like a professional?”  Well it breaks them all down into these various laws or concepts of musical production.  You can begin to make your lesson plans according that.

So, think about the content that you’re going to teach, and think about how you’re going to present lessons.  Speak over this with your friends, with experienced directors, and even your professors, and then continue to hit the web site to get better understanding on all these things.  So check out the musical laws article–I believe there are 14 laws in there.  It gives you specific things to work on daily in the classroom that will produce those concepts, and the kids will really get the ideas of how to use those concepts.  No matter what the music is, they’ll be able to play it.

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Jim Matthews

About Jim Matthews

Jim Matthews is a veteran band director of 30 years at Jackson Middle School in Titusville, FL. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Florida State University. His bands continuously received superior ratings at band festivals. The bands have received the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty and Twenty-five Year Superior Awards for continuous Superior ratings. He is presently the Brevard County Music Instructional Coach for all secondary band directors. Jim co-founded the FLBandWorkshop for band directors held each summer in Titusville. It is a hands-on, in-depth workshop. For more information see FLBandWorkshop on FaceBook. He is a member of Florida Bandmaster’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference and Phi Beta Mu – an International Honorary Band Director’s Fraternity. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher in music. For more information, see the About section.

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