Teaching Journal 4.8.18

# of Students Taught: 4

Ages: 1 frosh, 3 juniors

Instrument: 3 trombone, 1 bass trombone

Materials: scales, tunes, & ear training; solo contest pieces, etudes, audition music

Fundamentals covered: working on my new visual of feeling like we are a conduit for our air- we feel it rise up from the floor, through our bodies, and out the bell of the horn. We become a channel for a consistent, constant flow of energy that we turn into sound. Also covered: slow practice techniques, phrasing, interpretation.

Memorable moment: Gosh, all of my lessons today were EXCELLENT. Even my slightly attention-challenged student really did some good work on his own and kept focus throughout the lesson. The bass trombonist was especially sounding great today- best I’ve heard him- and I think it had to do how fun he finds his solo piece (1st mvt of the Haddad Suite for Tuba). We did careful speeding up of each phrase on the second page, channeling the tremendous energy needed to keep it exciting and fiery.

Takeaways: Music that we love to play is fun to play, and we will practice it for the delight of doing so. We’ll imagine ourselves doing well, expressing our joy of performing, and that will lend itself to healthy, focused practicing. It’s often a struggle to find the joy in everything we do, but I think we can learn from the pieces we do like how to find that energy for the things that excite us less.

Teaching Journal 4.6.18

# of Students Taught: 1

Age: college senior

Instrument: baritone

Materials: scales, tunes, & ear training; jury piece (Morceau Symphonique- Guillmant)

Fundamentals covered: theory & chord analysis as it helps us hear a melodic line, carrying intention through the phrase to help with technical delivery, keeping consistent performance of passage while increasing speed.

Memorable moment: In the big con fuoco finale of Morceau, my student, who has a beautiful high range, was struggling to nail the big Eb scale that goes up to a high Bb. He blamed on not finding a place to breathe, but I thought it had more to do with the fact that he was subconsciously stopping his momentum right before the scale. I had him mentally rewrite how he heard that phrase so that he kept his intention moving all the way to the end of the line, and suddenly he didn’t need as much air as he though he did. He then executed it beautifully several times in a row as we sped up the tempo to goal.

Takeaways: As always, intention rules everything we do. If we don’t understand the musical reason for doing what we’re doing, we’ll have trouble executing the phrase. Our tendency then is to blame it on some technical aspect that we don’t feel we’re strong enough at. I love reverse-engineering that moment with students to get them to see how much freer things can become when they shift their perspective to the result they want.




Teaching Journal 4.5.18

# of Students Taught: 8

Ages: 3 frosh, 3 juniors, 2 seniors

Instruments: 1 baritone, 2 bass trombones, 5 trombones

Materials: scales, tunes, & ear training; solo contest music, school band audition materials

Fundamentals covered: air flow, tone production, stamina, musicality, scale memorization

Memorable moment: One student has always struggled with reading music effectively, and from time to time I take away the written piece and teach it to him by ear. It takes a few tries to warm up but he always improves rapidly once he catches on. Then, I put the music back in front of him and instruct him to hear what he just did as he plays from the page. It’s great for his development of skill and reading and I should do it more often with all my students!

Bonus moment: I had to give a lot of post-audition pep talks today. No one felt great about their performance for their band audition and so we talked a lot about expectation and reality, and also how we are much harder on ourselves than we need to be. Plus, some bands really have a culture that stress achieving membership in the top band by one’s senior year, and it puts a lot of stress on the kids who don’t make it.

Takeaways: PLEASE DON’T MAKE BAND STRESSFUL (this goes out to students, directors, and parents alike)




Teaching Journal 4.4.18

# of Students Taught: 8

Ages: 4 frosh, 1 soph, 1 junior, 2 seniors

Instruments: 5 trombones, 1 baritone, 2 tubas

Materials: scales, tunes, & ear training; band music; assigned etudes

Fundamentals covered: high register, rhythmic interpretation & counting, articulation, phrasing

Memorable moment: Last lesson- Hering #14. Student was having trouble with 3/4 in some sections and adding an extra beat to the bar. He was also double slurring instead of slur two tongue two as marked. I pointed it out and demonstrated a few times, but the problems persisted, so I asked him to set up a metronome with a strong downbeat on 1. Immediately he was able to self-correct his rhythmic issue, and started to feel a difference in how to articulate the line as well. Without my having to say anything, he stopped one run through where he made both mistakes and started again, playing correctly.

Takeaways: Giving the student a clear example and then allowing him to take charge of his own trial-and-error process means he’ll listen more carefully for these subtle developments in the future. The use of the metronome to fix rhythmic problems again proves itself a key fix for melodic/interpretation improvement as well.




New Theme for April: Teaching and Learning

Hi all, and welcome to April! It was a blast to spend the first three months of this year focusing on a particular topic and developing my website content around it, and so I’ve decided to carry on the theme!

In April, you’ll be seeing posts, links, and resources dedicated to teaching, teachers, and learning and educational theory. This could include a link to something new in music education, observations from my own lessons or experience, and spotlights on educators who inspire me.

Instead of doing a weekly Monday blog, I’m going to start a teaching ‘journal’, aka I’ll be posting in pseudo-real time about experiences I’ve had in lessons with my students during the week and my thoughts on what that means or what I have learned. I want to dive into my teaching philosophy and start to craft language around what I believe as an educator.

On Wednesdays look for the #TeacherFeature (a la #WomanCrushWednesday), in which I’ll highlight an educator who’s really making me think about best practices and making a difference.

Fridays will still be Challenges, so look for prompts on things related to your own educational and learning experiences.

And, fingers crossed, you should start seeing my new video series on brass tone & sound production, aimed at beginners but useful to all, popping up on YouTube this month!

I hope you enjoy the theme and its content this month! I’m off to start plotting my very first #TCT. 🙂