Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Practical Tasks for Music Teachers

Learn how to "interlink" your music teaching

In this video Stephanie gives you some practical tips to improve "interlinking" in your music teaching. What exactly is that?

Released on December 5, 2018

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, all. It's Stephanie together with Virtual Sheet Music. This month's video follows on from two previous videos, October and November 2018. So if you haven't seen them, please do, so as to put this current video in a suitable context. Also, these videos, whilst geared towards the classroom music teacher, should still be able to offer some tips for enlivening up the private instrumental lesson. I'd hope too that the more discerning students out there might be able to better glean the importance of a rounded musical education, and be stimulated to expect more from their teachers. And finally, for the generalists out there, all of us have a vested interest in the future, in this case musical future. Hence these videos based around teaching and learning should still provide food for thought.

On now with today's theme, which is practical tasks in the classroom. So last month, I talked about how valid themes can provide a logical framework that allow different perspectives that seriously open up the world of music learning. To exemplify, I've chosen the theme of humor, which I'll continue using this month. Remember though that in another few months I'll be providing a range of resources for various ages. So if the topic or musical material is not applicable to your age range, don't worry. Get an idea of how my various discussions can help, hopefully, enrich your current study programs, and when my resources are available, applying them will be a cinch.

So in my last video connected with the theme of humor, I referred to various repertoire, Mozart's "Musical Joke," a scherzo from one of Beethoven's symphonies, and his piano "Rondo Capriccioso Opus 129." Obviously, the logical next step following on from building up a repertoire would be to write arrangements of said pieces, thereby allowing a greater familiarity and offering a good excuse for maybe exploring some more works of said composer at a listening level. Most classroom arrangements will therefore be quite basic, meeting the needs of the majority of non-specialist music students, the simplicity also reflecting the serious time constraints that schools impose on all subjects. Even here however, differentiation is possible. In keyboard classes for instance, this is easy, with ability levels respective thanks to the wonderful invention known as headphones. Obviously, great pianists can work on composer-related repertoire at their own level, so it's always useful having a good stock of harder piano repertoire. Likewise, classroom ensembles, so general percussion maybe together with recorder, are also a good solution. With difficulties kept to a minimum, easy gratification for students is possible, and they can also rotate between the parts, thereby experiencing musical roles, you know, melody versus accompaniment.

For wind band and orchestras, by all means, grab hold of a generic arrangements which divide parts into competency levels, or key transpositional instruments, or indeed both. I'm not a fan personally, as they often do little to bring out instrumental colors, but they are great if you want to save time. Anyhow, using the scherzo from Beethoven's "Symphony No. 2" I've placed examples of these three instrumental ensemble possibilities below, which you are free to download. Remember that I've kept the level pretty basic to meet the needs of the classroom majority. As regards good or excellent performance in your class, I've found that the best way to keep them happy is to make them play an instrument that isn't theirs. Failing that, they really need to be supplied with a more difficult instrumental part. A hassle in terms of extra writing, but necessary to stave off student boredom.

Stephanie's examples from Beethoven's Scherzo from Symphony No. 2:

- Version for keyboard

- Version for ensemble

- Version for string orchestra or string quartet

- Version for wind band/ensemble

Finally, singing, an important practical activity essential for a balanced musical diet. Now, seeing as it's almost Christmas, I'm going to choose one choral number that falls way outside the traditional repertoire, and that's Tom Lehrer's satirical "A Christmas Carol." As far as humor goes, well, you can't get much better, though it is quite simply shocking when you consider it was written in the 1950s. As regards its use in the classroom, I've found it generated all manner of heated discussions for the over-10-year-olds, who reacted to Lehrer's merciless references to the rampant consumerism of Christmas. Now, we're all aware that the theme of consumerism is very relevant in the 21st Century, from clarifying what our values are as people through to related areas such as environmentalism. So with Lehrer's humorous lyrics based upon an extremely important issue, learning the song becomes almost secondary to ensuing classroom debate, expressing one's opinion, and refining one's discursive skills. You know, that's a lot to gain from learning a two-minute song.

I hope you're beginning to see the link-up that's forming between the various musical activities that exist.With hether it be performance, listening analysis, reflection theory, whatever, one should never be taught without at some point referring to the other musical activities, and those ties need to be self-evident to our students. It's they, after all, who have to develop the means of identifying and making connections within the world at large. Using music as a way of stimulating this mental approach is no bad place to start.

Next month, well, I'll be talking about the Dreaded theory and how we can use it without fear, and actively in the 21st-Century-classroom. In the meantime, enjoy the festive season, watch the mulled wine, please write to me, and above all, enjoy the Christmas season. Ciao, ciao.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jenny A on December 6, 2018 @8:27 am PST
Thank you! It is indeed a challenge to keep everyone engaged, especially as they grow at different speeds in the beginning.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on December 9, 2018 @7:04 am PST
Hi Jenny, thanks for your comment and sorry for my late reply. My only hope with these current videos is that they can provide food for thought and some valuable resources to my 'colleagues' out there. Being a teacher is one of the toughest jobs about so if I can provide some practical support (without wishing of course to teach you to suck eggs) then I'll be happy. Thanks again. Stephanie
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