My course, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, through VanderCook College of Music, is continuing to progress through the National Core Music Standards. The past two weeks, we looked at Creating and Performing as Artistic Processes. Those blog posts detail a lot about what NAfME and other organizations have crafted in the new Core Arts Standards. This post is a continuation along that line focusing on Responding.
This week, we were delivered the following prompt:
The reality is that the National Standards for Music Education, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards and others are “highly recommending” that music educators include the three artistic processes into the music curricula for all music students. Write a narrative explaining in detail how you plan to incorporate “Responding” into your curriculum.
Responding is a critical part of a performing ensemble. Our school year incorporates responding as an artistic process throughout the marching, concert, and jazz band seasons.
The marching band season begins in August with band camp and progresses through mid-October when we host the Mid-Iowa Band Championships to close the season. This typically includes four to five performances for half-time of home football games as well as four to five festivals. The first festival we attend every year uses the typical six judge format, but all bands perform in a judged exhibition. After their performance, the students move to an auditorium with a clinician to walk through video of their performance and the clinician’s thoughts. This is a perfect introduction to the competitive season. Afterwards, we have our students reflect and evaluate their performance.
Prior to the first marching band competition, we discuss the various ballots with the students and how their performance is rated by each judge. We talk about the design process the staff goes through to select, analyze, and interpret the music and drill to give the students a show with great potential. We also help the students analyze and interpret their music and show so they can maximize that potential when performing. After each performance, we ask the students to evaluate their performance using reflective questions or ballots.
In the jazz band season, our first performance is opening for the 7th Grade Concert Band in December. This gives us five to six weeks of preparation. In the top jazz band, we discuss the criteria for selecting a set for this performance. At this time of year, the students will have approximately twenty pieces in their folder that are possibilities. The students select the three to four pieces for the set, and I model how to analyze and interpret them. After this performance, the students evaluate themselves on an individual and ensemble basis, and use this evaluation to begin the cycle for selecting repertoire for their next performance.
In the concert band season, we begin with the Fall Band Gala, just three short weeks after the conclusion of the marching band season. This is followed by another three and a half week turnaround before our Winter Concert. For both of these performances, we model and think-aloud our process for building a concert set. For the next concert, there are eight weeks of preparation. This is partially due to the Perry Band Olympics, our region’s solo and ensemble festival, occurring in February. This extra time allows us to have the students collaboratively discuss selecting music for the Spring Concert based on the modeling we did in the Fall semester. We model analysis and interpretation in the concert band rehearsals so students can demonstrate those skills in individual lessons while preparing their solo and ensemble literature. During the final lesson cycle leading up to Perry, students record a performance of their solo and ensemble literature and walk through an evaluation of it using the wind and percussion rubrics we use for every lesson.
In each ensemble and lesson, we are frequently prompting to students to evaluate their performance. These evaluations can be in the form of reflective questions or in discussions around rubrics or ballots. Students are also comparing their performances to recordings of other ensembles ranging from middle school students to professionals. Students are asked to respond to questions like: Why did they select that repertoire? How are they interpreting that selection? How are they doing at communicating that interpretation?