First Residency Summer at VanderCook

I am currently in my first residency summer at the Vandercook College of Music pursuing a Masters of Music Education. This is the beginning of the second week, and I have already learned a ton! My courses this summer include:

  • Intro to Graduate Study – developing skills and methods to complete a capstone project at the end of the program
  • Woodwind Techniques I (Flute/Clarinet) – focused on learning to play the flute and the clarinet (vs. learning to teach them which occurs in methods classes)
  • Symphonic Band – all graduate band students. I’m playing principal trombone.
  • Percussion Methods – learning to teach percussion
  • Jazz Arranging – techniques for arranging for jazz ensemble
  • Instructional Design – using technology to help inform our instruction
  • Concert Choir – all graduate students: vocal, instrumental, and general music
  • Jazz Band – any interested grad student on standard instrumentation
  • Applied Improvisation – lessons in jazz improvisation

I am loving it all so far! It is definitely a lot of work, but I am greatly enjoying it.

For our Instructional Design course, I am required to create a blog on Blogspot to learn and apply the different techniques we learn in class. I wrote a bit for that post about this Masters Project:

MMEd Project
I am very excited to get started on this, but having trouble narrowing my focus for a topic. I think I have gotten down to two. Both stem from our vertical teaching model:

There are five band directors across three buildings, grades 6-12. The team was built to ensure an expert on each instrument/family:

Name Ensemble Primary Instrument
Scott Hook 11-12th Grade Band Saxophone
Burton Hable 10th Grade Band Trombone
Janelle Hook 8th and 9th Grade Bands Flute
Mary Klemm-Harris 6th & 7th Grade Bands Oboe
Dr. Jake Thieben 6th & 7th Grade Bands Percussion

Our rehearsals are all scheduled so that team of five can move from building to building to pull students out of music rehearsals for individual or small group lessons:

Class Period Ensemble Rehearsal Building
0 Marching Band/Jazz Band All Schools
1 10, 11-12th Grade Bands Centennial HS
2 8th Grade Bands (A & B) Northview MS
3 9th Grade Band Northview MS
4 6th Grade Bands (A & B) Prairie Ridge MS
5 7th Grade Band (B) Prairie Ridge MS
6 6th Grade Bands (A & B) Prairie Ridge MS
7 7th Grade Band (B) Prairie Ridge MS
8 Music Theory or Plan Centennial HS

As a team, we have taken the Power Standards our full professional learning community (K-12 Music) built prior to the transition, and identified how each of those particular skills will be taught and assessed at each grade level. Then, each expert teacher looked for melodic etudes in the student’s lesson materials (Student Instrumental Course Level 1 & 2, Rubank Advanced Volume 1) that met the criteria of what was being assessed when.

The next steps are where I see the potential for my MMEd Project. I have narrowed it down to two options:

1) Standards for Ensemble Performance. We have developed assessments for individual skill levels at certain points from 6-12th grade. I would like to identify ensemble skill levels, not necessarily to assess, but to help choose literature for each group. My research would involve looking at the different criteria for grade levels of repertoire, the national and state standards, and required lists for state festival performance.

2) Models for Assessment (and Solo?) Performance. Because we have developed a working schedule of assessments, we are interested in having good models for our students to work from in their preparation. I am envisioning a Google Site or some other online database where students can access video and/or audio recordings of experts playing through the materials of their assessments. We could also include SmartMusic files, PDFs (within copyright guidelines, of course), and any other resources that might benefit their preparation. I am not sure if I will be allowed to pursue such a project because of the help required from the other members of my PLC.

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