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Music Teacher Tip #19 - Why Are We Doing It Again?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Music Teacher Tip #19 - #WhyWeNeedtoDoItAgain:

If you ask students to play or sing it again, either give a reason why or ask them to tell you why.

Here are some ways to come up with a content-specific reason for having students repeat something:

1️⃣ After you stop conducting or leading, tell students that when you say “go” they have 30 seconds to share 1 thing that went well with a neighbor and 1 thing that needs improvement. Make sure to tell them what the signal will be when the 30 seconds are up so that you don’t have chaos.

At the end of their time to share, ask them to raise their hand if they want to share what their neighbor said. It will reinforce their ideas if you write them on the board as they give them.

If students struggle with terminology, it’s a great time to help them with their music vocabulary (academic language). For example, a student might say, “My neighbor, Rasheed said that measure 32 was supposed to slow down, but we didn’t follow you.” After thanking the speaker and reinforcing that Rasheed was right, you can ask what the Italian musical term for that is. Once they come up with it (with help if needed), write it on the board. If they have scores, have them write in their scores.

The above strategy will accomplish multiple things simultaneously:

1. Collaborative learning which is also 21st century learning.

2. Students will be much more engaged if you allow them to share their ideas about the music with each other. In general, try to avoid planning a class that is all teacher-directed.

3. You’ve also asked them to self-evaluate and or evaluate the performance of the entire ensemble. Both are valuable and both use higher-order thinking skills which is the next to highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Higher-order thinking is also a 21st century skill.

4. Because you’ve asked them to share a neighbor’s idea, you’ve potentially allowed for a quiet student’s voice to be heard and potentially shared with the whole class. Your more introverted students will appreciate the opportunity to share their ideas in a less-stressful way.

5. When you call on one student, the ones not answering tend to check out at least a little. Asking everyone to share with a neighbor keeps them all engaged.

6. I’ve mentioned this before, but it also creates an opportunity for self care and more effective monitoring. While students are talking, sip your water, walk around to hear individual conversations, give some feedback, scan the room, check your lesson plan for what’s next, and breathe a little.

2️⃣ Of course, you can also just tell them why they have to sing or play it again, but engaging everyone in decisions about the music is a much kid-friendlier way to do it.

3️⃣ If you need to assess their understanding of a concept related to the performance, have them use a Music Performance Adjudication (MPA) Form, but only the part that addresses the issue they’re having. They don’t need the entire rubric.

For example, if they are assessing balance, record the ensemble and play it back. (It’s hard to tell if things are balanced from within the ensemble.) Ask students to complete the part of the form that says “balance” by circling the rating they would give the ensemble and then justifying why in at least one complete sentence. Once they’ve completed that quick assignment, give them the opportunity to share with each other or just you depending on how much time you have. (This is also literacy integration. Principals LOVE this!)

By the way, it REALLY helps you and the students if the MPA rubric is always visible. If that’s the standard you’re all working toward, shouldn’t you refer to it frequently? Ruth Petersen and I felt that way years ago. At that time, we both printed versions of the MPA standards for our classroom walls. (I was teaching elementary at the time and she was at a middle school.)

After discovering how helpful the posters were, (I got straight superiors that year. Sorry I can’t remember Ruth’s), we decided to have them published.

(Disclaimer: The posters aren’t magical. You must use them regularly as a teaching tool.)

No matter what though, students should ALWAYS know the content-specific reason that they are repeating something. ❤️

Happy Friday, everyone! 😁🎶

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