Exploring the Arts

Music Teacher Peer Work Session



Classroom Management Techniques


·      Find out what motivates students

·      Communicate clear expectations and follow through

o   Decide what you want from student conduct in the classroom and classroom procedures. Communicate them clearly from the outset.

o   Make sure the expectations are reasonable and sustainable

o   You can consider making students earn the right to instruments by hitting predetermined benchmarks. It forces them to respect the instrument and the experience of being able to use it.

o   Empty statements don’t work- if you attach a consequence to an action make sure you follow through

o   Set expectations high

o   Be consistent with whatever expectations you set and the enforcement of them

·      Positive reinforcement

o   Positive phone calls home can be very powerful

·      It’s OK to recognize something did not work, admit mistakes and change course.

·      Student WILL test you; don’t take it personally!


Differentiating Instruction


·      Create a goal-oriented structure where students can hit certain benchmarks at their own pace

·      Use outside teaching artist to support instruction and accelerate lower level student learning

o   Make sure there is a focused goal for what you want the TA to do

o   Can sometimes use them to take private lessons and PD for yourself

·      Student choice

o   If there is a lot of individual project work students can choose what they want to work on and will often choose something they can handle

o   If they choose something harder it is an opportunity to help them set goals of what they need to work on in order to be able take on that project

·      Create multiple entry points for any given project


Resource: “Teach Like A Champion” by Doug Lemov


Teaching Jazz improvisation


·      Rhythm

o   Have students improvise on one note only to focus on rhythm

o   Try improvising around a clave rhythm

·      Scales

o   Start with a limited group of notes or scale degrees that the students can use to improvise- i.e. the 1,2,3 or 5 of a chord

o   Create parameters within which students have to come up with phrases over a tune for homework

o   Diminished scales are less helpful for teaching beginners

o   Pentatonic scale is very helpful (Kansas City scale-pentatonic with flat 3)

o   Add chromatic approaches as students get more advanced

·      Vocabulary

o   Assign students famous solos to learn- i.e. Miles Davis on “So What”

o   Teacher trades phrases with students

·      Teaching improvisation in a group setting

o   It’s important to create a space where students feel safe to try new things and express themselves and hold other students accountable to maintaining that

o   Create a rule where everyone improvises