High Points and Disappointments of my 2008 Winter Concerts

My Winter Concerts reached new highs and sunk to new lows this year. First, the high points:

For the first time, my advanced groups played at our local zoo’s Holiday Lights event. (Click here or here for info.) It is rare in my district for elementary school music groups to venture off campus, so this was a bit unusual. It was a treat for me to bring together my best students from my three schools and form an ad-hoc honor band of sorts. The students really enjoyed the event, and you could tell how proud the parents were of their students. Everyone is enthusiastic about doing it again next year.

Unfortunately, just a couple nights later one of my schools had what was probably the weakest concerts I’ve conducted in recent history. The beginners weren’t necessarily much worse than normal, but my advanced groups definitely performed below my hopes. We have been learning the same music as my other schools, so it’s not as through I made unreasonable music selections. And many of the students in the advanced ensembles are in the gifted program, so it’s not as though they’re incapable of playing those selections.

This situation is forcing me to reevaluate much of the way I approach teaching at this school. I’m going to have to take a deeper look at just about every aspect of teaching here, from classroom management to rhythm and technical studies, rehearsal techniques, and motivation. I’m likely blog more about this as the weeks go on.

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6 thoughts on “High Points and Disappointments of my 2008 Winter Concerts

  1. Steve-
    I hear you brother…I’m rethinking a lot of my approach with students. I hope you will share your thoughts on what you think is working, not working, if it’s logistical details, “kids these days”, lack of administrative support, etc. Share and be frank if you can and we’ll respond in kind.

  2. Hi Ken. Thanks for your encouragement. I had some prep time on the Friday before Winter Break, and have already taken a closer look at some reasons for the problems, and how to deal with them. I’m hoping to use this situation for good. Maybe it’ll be a turning point in my teaching.
    What specifically are you “rethinking” about your approach?

  3. Steve~

    I can totally relate to this! This year’s recital (Thursday night) was the first time that I can recall actually feeling like across the board my students performed excellently. Always before there have been disappointments that, like you, have made me analyze the cause and evaluate how to remedy it. I know the situation is different between classroom teaching versus private teaching, but I’m sure some of the same principles apply.

    Your post has also prompted me to perform that same reevaluation even in light of a good year – What made the difference? Why did my students perform better than in years past? How can I capitalize on it and work toward even greater progress and improvement in the future? Etc. Thanks for spurring me on!

    I am very interested to see what you discover as you reevaluate your approach. Please do blog about it. I’m sure your insights will be very beneficial!

  4. Pingback: Rethinking My Approach, Part 1: Classroom Management through Attention to Individuals « Music Ed Lounge

  5. Pingback: Rethinking My Approach, Part 2: Rhythm/Pulse « Music Ed Lounge

  6. Pingback: Rethinking My Approach, Part 3: Documenting Rehearsals « Music Ed Lounge

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