Sunday, August 07, 2005

So I had most of a writeup written and then my computer randomly decided to shut all my browsers and I haven't had time to re-write until now.

This week (one week ago now) I taught the private lessons that I offered to every student in the violin class, aimed particularly at those intending to continue. I had almost a full schedule every day, so I was at the high school 5 hours each day Tuesday-Thursday. I taught the lessons in the auditorium because the floors were being revarnished in the music department. Most of the kids that were signed up for lessons were the ones that had done very well in class and their parents wanted to make sure they kept working because they really had potential. There were a few whose parents signed them up because they weren't doing so well, too. Those were frustrating lessons. There was one girl who couldn't tell the difference between playing on the D string and playing on the G string. On the exercises switching back and forth between D and A, she would overly lift her arm and play the G, and couldn't tell that she was doing it. 15 minutes later, she still couldn't tell, so we worked on something else. She struggled with that too. It was frustrating to attempt to help the kids who had been there every day for the 5 or 6 weeks of class and still can't get the concepts. It's always easier to help people who already know what they're doing. The lessons that flew by were the ones who have talent at the violin and were ready to plow into new material. One boy learned almost two whole pages of new material that was bowing and fingers together. That was amazing.
A couple students didn't come, and the frustrating ones were the last two on Thursday. I could have left an hour and 15 minutes earlier than I did after waiting for them. That's one thing that I wouldn't look forward to if I did any private teaching as my profession. One of my mentors and friends is my violin teacher from back in the day and she said that students that just don't show up is a constant problem. That's something I'll have to look forward to. Yay...

15 hours beginning classes
1 hour journaling
8.75/49/49.75/28/-1.75 (w00t! I have reached the total hours!)

Posted at 10:38 pm by snowsparkle
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Mentor Observation--Autumn

I observed Autumn's first two lessons of the day.

Autumn's first lesson was Jessica at noon.
Autumn tuned her own violin before the student got there, and used an electronic tuner that produces tones. She also tuned the student's violin this way. It's always good to check the tuning of your own violin before you tune a student's violin to yours. Autumn taught lessons sitting. They started with an exercise from Fiddle Magic that slurred three notes together. They played it together. Moving to the student's Wolfardt book, they sightread an etude. Autumn started iout by saind it's in C major, so low 2s on D A and E, and low 1 on E. The played it toghether. When her student stumbled and couldn't get back on, she stopped and pointed to a place where they could start again a little bit back. She reminded her of the correct fingering if that's what the problem was before they started in again.  Her solo was Gavotte from the Suzuki books. She had her play up to a certain point, which was the part she had assigned. After done playing, she mentioned that her 4 needed to be higher to be in tune and that her staccato needed to be shorter. They played the middle section together again because it's hard. She was having the student play at one tempo, then when she got to the hard part, play half tempo, then doubled it to the original tempo after it. Every time they played it, that's how they did it. I couldn't tell if Autumn realized that's what was happening or not. I would not recommend this as a practice technique for figuring out a hard section because the student will get the tempo changes ingrained and  it will be difficult to fix once you want the difficult section up to speed. She was also teaching a difficult rhythm (in a different section) wrong. The rhythm was a quarter note slurred to an eighth followed by two 16ths. She was demonstrating it as and having the student play it as dotted quarter slurred to an eighth followed by two eighth notes. This adds an extra beat in the measure and is just plain wrong. The teacher needs to teach the right thing because if the student sees one thing and has to play another, they will get confused. I don't think Autumn noticed that it was wrong. It is absolutely imperative that the teacher has gone over the music and knows it (correctly) inside and out so that they can properly instruct the student. They played through the whole piece together (the last third is identical to the first), and afterwards Autumn complimented her on doing well and playing it correctly (which I have already mentioned she wasn't, and not by her own fault). Autumn had her work on the difficult section by echoing it two measures at a time for upping the tempo, then they put it together. This would be an appropriate time to get out a metronome and practice it slowly, gradually upping the tempo until at speed. Also, the teacher should demonstrate what it sounds like at the proper tempo so that the student understands. Since they upped the tempo of the difficult section, it more or less matched (was supposed to match) the tempo of the first section, fixing the problem of halving the speed, BUT they doubled the speed again at the same spot when they were working it measure by measure for tempo. Obviously Autumn does not have a secure understanding of quarters and eighths because that's all that was involved in the rhythm at that point, and there was no reason for her to arbitrarily double the tempo. Even though they had tempo issues as I have stated, rhythm was steady, which notable because so many students can't keep a steady beat when they play. This one did, and I'm sure Autumn kept her in line that way. She had the student play the whole piece herself, and complimented her at the end, saying she was perfect. (ehem) They then played it together, playing the middle section faster, but still not matching the tempo of the first and last sections. Autumn then explained how the tempo should stay the same in transition. She slowed the tempo of the first seciton so they could match the speed of the middle section (which is difficult for students to play up to tempo b/c it is just hard.). She then had the student play while she tapped her foot to work on the transition, but it wasn't effective because the student still changed her tempo to go slower for the midsection and Autumn then changed the tempo of her foot tapping to match the student. When the teacher is being a metronome, they shouldn't do that! Metronomes don't change speed to match the player, and neither should the teacher in this case. It totally defeats the purpose! When she got to the end, Autumn complimented her on the good completion of a piece during lessons, and checked it off and gave her a sticker. After checking it off, they continued to work on it, taling about style and articulation (staccato).  Autumn talked about how to do it and they played a G major scale staccato. She had a surprisingly short goodbye for it being the last lesson of the summer.

Autumn's next student was Emily at 12:30pm.
They didn't talk at all while the student unpacked, and it was the same at the last lesson. I hadn't thought much of it during the first lesson because the student was naturally shy, but when it happened again, I made a note. Dead air (as they call it on the radio) is truly deadly when trying to connect with a student. It's very important to make small talk so that the student feels comfortable with the teacher. As with the last lesson, they began with a Fiddle Magic warmup. This one was a string-changing exercise, and she had her play it three times-the first time in the upper half of the bow, the second in the middle and the third close to the frog. They also did a slurring exercise. Transitioning to solo work, she turned to the student's solo and asked if she had worked on it (no, she hadn't had time to). She then said "Well play how much you feel comfortable with." After that, they played it together to cement the steady tempo, which was already pretty good but needed firming up. She then asked if she knew what key it is in. "It's in G, so let's play a G major scale." They played it together, then she had her play it by herself. She corrected her posture (slanting violin) and went on. They played the first section together again. Autumn then moved to discussing dynamics. She went over the printed dynamics, then told her not only what they meant but how to do them, which is good. Some students know what dynamics mean and they try to do them, but don't know what to do to really change the level of dynamics on their instrument. She corrected intonations as well. They played that section together once more and went on. In general, she mentioned something once, then moved on to another concept after playing it just once. Concepts could use more reinforcement--teaches student how to practice if they fix something, then repeat it several times to make sure they have it down. After going over the new section, she had the student play the whole thing herself. She stopped her quickly to point out a low 2, then kept going. She had her play all the repeats in the Minuet. She mentioned intonation and steady tempo problems. She played it as it should be--"did you hear how that was a little different?" and they played it together again, focusing on dynamics, then she had her play it herself, she passed her on that piece and gave her a sticker. She didn't go over anything new that she could work on over the summer, and the goodbye was short again.

I hate to say it, but in general I really disliked Autumn's lessons. She did a lot of things rather poorly. I have no patience for teachers who teach things wrong (because a teacher is supposed to know what they're doing!!), especially when it's something easy like a rhythm out of the second Suzuki book. She did work on keeping a steady tempo and did that well, but beyond that I didn't find her a very good teacher. I really didn't like that she didn't work on something new that the kids could work on over the summer or tell them what to work on. She just sent them out there just having "finished" a piece with nothing to work on. Lessons like this are about helping them through the summer and giving them a push to continue working on their own. She was lack-lustre and I just generally didn't like her teaching style.

1.25 hours journaling

Posted at 07:47 pm by snowsparkle
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005
mentorship stuff

I just spent an hour wrapping up the mentorship program--compiling survey answers from the mentors and writing up a general explanation of the mentorship program for the new director. I still have a few things to add before I turn them in to Mr. Gitch Thursday, but they're mostly done.

1 hour mentorship

Posted at 09:26 pm by snowsparkle
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Mentor Observation--Ellen

I was going to observe viola mentor Ellen with two students, but she had a hole in her schedule so I just watched one lesson.

Ellen's 11am student was Abbey. Ellen ran over the lesson time with the previous student, so Abbey had a shorter lesson. Chairs and a stand were already set up, so Ellen used them and sat for the lesson. She asked the student how practicing had gone and what she had worked on for the most part. They started with a review piece that had needed a short section fixed. The student had fixed it, and Ellen checked it off and moved to the new piece. The student played what she had worked on, which was the whole piece. Ellen lavished praise on the student for the good things--cool, good, awesome, great job, etc. She then moved into things that needed some work, beginning," The thing you need to work on is keep the tempo steady." She pulled out a metronome and they clapped the rhythm together. They then played the section. The student stumbled, so they went to playing it measure by measure, making sure that the rhythm was steady. When the student kept playing on incorrectly, she domonstrated and asking if she could hear the difference (yes). She temporarily took out hte slur, had her play it and said that her fingers would go down the same way they did before, and the student got it. However, when they put the measure back into context, she played it wrong again. She got out the metronome again, set it to 8th notes, and had her clap it and play it with the metronome. It still wasn't all the say better, but had improved, so they went on since they had already spent 10 minutes on that one section for steady tempo. Ellen then moved her on to dynamics. She gave a graphical demonstration of dynamics, which I liked a lot (I wrote "good!" in my notes) but can't remember right now, and they played sections together to get the dynamics down. Ellen praised the student when she made a mistake but realized it right away and fixed it. (That shows that the student can differentiate between correct playing and incorrect playing and is actually paying atttention to what she is playing.) Whe wrote down in a notebook what her assignments were, and wrote down in there what she wanted the student to work on over the rest of the summer. She ended the lesson on time, even though she started late with this student and didn't have one afterwards. If it was me, I would have asked if she wanted the full lesson time (run over) or if she needed to leave on time, just to make sure. I always make sure I end on time with my students because I find it unprofessional to shortchange some students while giving others longer lessons (I've had teachers that did it and it bugged me to no end, even thought I was usually the student they ran over with). While not too much of a big deal, it's always best to make sure every student gets what they paid for--a full lesson.

For general comments, I loved Ellen's teaching style. She was very personable with the student and gave lots and lots of fun praise, using words like cool and awesome to relate to the student. For this being her first summer teaching, I think she's got it down pretty well. She's a natural!

1 hour journaling

Posted at 08:25 pm by snowsparkle
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finishing up, part 1

Today I went in to do some library work. I hung out for a while, but Mr. Gitch didn't come, so I went home. I emailed him and apparently he was there because he emailed me back saying that he was there now, so I drove back down there and helped him clean up some things. We went over the spreadsheet, and the error isn't the 40 cents. It's the fact that we got $1470 in checks for lesson fees, and have to pay out $90 more than that to the mentors and the church. Those numbers should be equal, and the fact that they're off by exactly three checks (it's $30 per student for the 5 lessons) means that somewhere, we either lost three checks or three students never paid. Since it would be a giant hassle to call all the parents to verify that their checks went through/they actually paid, Mr. Gitch just wrote out a transfer of funds form--to cover it, he'll use funds from the Orchestra account to cover the string mentorship checks. We agreed that in the future it would be much better to just use a spreadsheet to mark down who has paid, check number, etc so that this wouldn't happen. I'll include this in my writeup of the mentorship program for the new director.

In addition to going over the pay spreadsheet, I did library work--sorting, putting away, and general cleaning in the library mostly. There was a whole stack of chamber music that had missing parts, and I made a list of all the parts missing from what so that the new director could order them.

I'll be going in again on Thursday afternoon to do further library/organizational work. Once I get done with the writeup for the mentorship program, that portion is closed; beginning classes are closed, so the only thing left is organizational time.

1.75 hours organizational
.25 hours journaling

Posted at 07:42 pm by snowsparkle
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Monday, August 01, 2005
Mentor Observation--Abbi

I observed violin mentor Abbi with two students.

Abbi's 10am student was Amanda.
Her rental violin (like many others) was hard to tune and it took extra time out of the lesson to get it into some semblance of proper tuning. Abbi used an electronic tuner to ensure that she was in tune. To begin the lesson, she asked how the new piece had gone, and also asked if she had worked on keeping 2 measures in an old one in tune or if she had worked on the new one mostly. She begain with having the student play the two problem measures from the old piece that apparently had been hard to tune. She commented on her 3rd finger being too high, and made sure that she played it in tune. They them played it together, and she asked the student to listen carefully and adjust. They then moved on to her new piece--Gavotte-- had the student play it by herself (the section she had worked on.). After she played, Abbi went over some things. She explained about the high 3 this piece has--that it is right next to 4th finger and they have to touch. She had the student play a small section with the high 3. She then went over what/where low 2 is--student had practiced with a high 2. She had the student play through a section slowly, making sure to place the 2 low. When she wanted the student to play a certain section, she was very clear in explaining where she wanted the student to start/stop for a section, which is always good--it makes expectations clear. Abbi worked intonation a lot, which surprised me. Usually students that come through this program have almost no sense of intonation and they're the ones who don't have the drive or the parents don't care enough to get them into lessons with a private teacher. I suppose it's never wrong to work on intonation with a student, even early when they're just concentrating on getting the right number of fingers down. Getting a student to listen to their intonation is important, and I suppose it's easier done earlier than later. Her style was encouraging, but she didn't just gloss over mistakes. She made sure the mistakes were pointed out and gave an explanation as to how to fix or why she might be playing it wrong, and then had the student play to fix them. After going over some problems in the old sections, she lead the student through a new section--explained the hard rhythm and demonstrated it, had the student play short sections, then worked on those short sections, then added the sections together, explaining that the piece was in sections. Each time she went through a section, she only had the student focus on one concept at a time--notes, rhythm, bowing, style. This is good because if the student has too many things to focus on at one time, they feel overloaded. If the student made a mistake repeatedly even after talking about it, she would mark the music and say "make sure that's..." or "try to remember to do... when you play it"--something encouraging. When she would go through a section, she would say "let's play from, keeping in mind that you want to do...." to make sure the student knew where to play and what to keep in mind when playing it. Even on the new section, she had her play in the right style (staccato) because she had done a lot of that previously and knew how, and could add it in without thinking about it too hard. It's always good if students can play with the right style or dynamics right from the beginning of learning something, because the way they first learn it becomes ingrained and can be difficult to change. If it's something that the student has worked with before, it's easy to add them in and it makes the finished product much nicer and it comes together faster. When she was having trouble sorting out bowing by herself, Abbi had her play it note by note so she could get it all straight. When the student finally got the bowing right, she said "there you go! Great!" in an encouraging voice. At the end of the lesson, she summed up what to work on over the summer.

Abbi's 10:30 student was Sarah, who arrived 10 minutes late. (Abbi and I chatted mostly about teaching and a couple of my observations, mostly positive, while we waited.)
They begain with a review piece, Song of the Wind, and before Sarah began to play, Abbi reminded her of what to watch out for. She played welll, and Abbi congratulated her on playing well and fixing everything. Then they moved onto a new piece-Go Tell Aunt Rhody. Abbi reminded her that the first and last lines are the same so in order to know the whole piece she only needed to know two lines, which is a lucky break! The student played the first line, but played all the notes the same length and skipped a note here and there. Abbi reminded her of the rhythm, saying "I know you know how these go" and speaking it in rhythm with the syllables. She then had the student play it again. When she skipped the same note the second time through, she stopped her and reminded her that there were 2 B's instead of 1. After the student made it through the whole thing, Abbi said "Remember last week looking at it and thinking it looks so scary? Well you just played the whole thing! Good job!" She had the student play it again to fix the rhythm, this time with her clapping the rhythm while the student played. It didn't go so well, and she reminded the student of the rhythm--1,2&,3,4, tah titi tah tah, and had her play only the first measure until she got it right, doing the same thing with each measure by itself. When she got it right, she would say "Yup! Good job!" If she didn't get it quite right yet, she said "Oops, try it again." Once she had taken the 1st line measure by measure, she reminded her of the rhythm for the first two measures, then had her play them. Then did the same for the first 3 measures. If she missed something she had previously played right, Abbi would say "just keep thinking 1 2& 3 4 in you head. You did it before, so I know you can do it! Just keep thinking about it." When they made it through the first line like that, she had her play the whole line by herself. The student went back to playing every note more or less equal. She said to work on the rhythm for next week and they would work on it at the next lesson too. (They were having a make-up lesson next week since had to miss one week.) At the end of the lesson, Abbi praised her intonation, saying good job on getting the notes in tune, especially the first finger since she doesn't have a 1st finger tape. They chatted while she packed up.

I like Abbi's quiet, encouraging style of teaching. She draws the students out gently instead of demanding, and is very personable. I didn't see anything in her lessons that I objected to. I also liked that she used an electronic tuner on the trouble violin because when working on a violin that is way out of tune it's easy to lose the pitch in your head.

1.5 hours journaling

Posted at 08:25 pm by snowsparkle
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triple checking

After I finished the pay spreadsheet and sent it to Mr. Gitch, he emailed me back saying my numbers didn't work, so I spent a half hour going over it, making sure I had typed in the formulas correctly (or put in formulas so that it wasn't human error, which it was in a couple places). After I got everything fixed, I went over the totals a couple times, doing them vertically and horizontally, but they still didn't match up. There is a 40 cent difference between the adding of the 5% taken off everyone's check (donation to the church) and taking 5% off the total lesson fees, which could be minute differences from the computer rounding to two demical places for dollars and cents. Even after I found the 40 cent difference, I went back and checked everything again, but I can't find the problem. Hopefully we can find it tomorrow when I go in to do library work. I'll be going in tomorrow about 3:30 to 6 to do library work and finishing things up.

.5 hour mentorship
.25 hour journaling

Posted at 07:07 pm by snowsparkle
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Sunday, July 31, 2005
Mentor Observation-Katie

I planned to observe violin mentor Katie with two students, but the first didn't come, so we chatted about college and other things (she graduated this year), and I observed her with one student.

I observed Katie with her 12:30 student Nate.
They talked about his vacation while he unpacked. She asked him how practicing went. He had a Tune-A-Day book that he was working out of, and she had him play what he had been assigned. She complimented him on playing the right notes, then said "there were some rhythmic errors," meaning he needed to fix the rhythm. For a kid in middle school, maybe a different wording would have worked better. The teacher has to connect with the student with age-appropriate language. She talked through the problem spots, then they played it together so he could hear when his rhythm was off, which was good. Afterwards, she reminded him of the problem spots and told him to watch out for them, and had him play it again by himself. To address issues with steady tempo, she had him play the last line, saying to make sure he concentrated on keeping it steady. Discussing rhythm, she used rhythm syllables "tah, titi" etc, which was good because rhythm syllables in addition to speaking in rhythm facilitate the student's understanding of the rhythm. When playing together, she counted off with a "ready go." Switching to a different exericise in the book, she asked how the next one had gone for him this week, give it a try. The student tried and stumbled. She said, "oops! How about you give that another try?" He played it well, and she checked it off and moved to a new one (Auld Lang Syne). Introing it, she said, "This one has four sharps, F, C, G, and D. Where will your 2 be here?" They then clapped the rhythm together. After the first time through, she reviewed the "tum-ti" rhythm (dotted quarter, 8th) because he'd had trouble with it. She asked him to say the syllables with her as they clapped (this reinforces the sense of rhythm duration). Before they started playing, she mentioned that it starts on an up-bow in case he hadn't noticed it and reminded him of the key signature and what it means for the fingers. When a note wasn't in tune, she had the student move his finger back and forth until it was in tune, using his ears to tell when it was right. They went through it several times, and if there were problems, she would stop him and mention it, then start a measure or so back to get into it. Even though she would point with her bow and say "Let's start here," he would frequently be confused about where to start. When asking a student to begin in a certain place, it is very important to be very clear as to where to start (eg start on this C# here and play until this D over here, while pointing) so that students know exactly what is expected of them. After learning the new exercise in Tune-A-Day, they moved to his solo in the Suzuki book (Minuet). She had him play it through by himself. She again told him it had "some rhythmic errors." She had him clap and say the rhythms twice over. She then had him play it by himself, saying "pay special attention to the rhythm." She stopped him after 2 measures to fix the quarter notes and make them all the same length. When he was playing, he was concentrating on getting the notes right and he wouldn't realize that he was playing rhythms incorrectly, and it was hard to have him correct them, so Katie let it slide a bit and told him to work on it over the summer. They played it together again, counting off "ready set go" and when they were done, she asked him if he could hear where his rhythm was off (he said yes), and they played again. She asked if there was any part he wanted to go through before he went (no), then went over the things he needed to work on for the rest of the summer. That was the end of the lesson.
Overall, I think she taught the right things, and did a good job, but she could work on being more personable and work on connecting with her students more. For students, a teacher who is interested in how they are doing in general in addition to playing is always good, as well as a teacher who gets excited when they do something right encourages them to work hard. It is important to use age-appropriate language in order to draw the student's interest; language that goes over the student's head will cause him to zone out and not care, feeling disconnected from the teacher.

2.5 hours journaling.
This weekend I have also spent 3 hours contacting all the mentors to verify the numbers of lessons they've taught and who subbed for who, etc, determining how much each teacher's check should be written for, taking out 5% of everyone's pay for a donation to the church, the use of which has never been charged for.

Posted at 10:16 pm by snowsparkle
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Mentor Observation--Amy

I observed cello mentor Amy with two students.

The first lesson was with Nicholas.
When she was tuning his cello, playing two strings at a time, she asked him to indicate when he thought it was in tune. I had never thought of doing this, but it works very well for developing the student's ear for when he has to tune it himself. I imagine it works better with cellos who tune mainly with fine tuners. She had a nice opening question--"Did you get a chance to practice? How is (piece) coming?" He was working on May Song and Allegro. She had him play the piece (May Song) by himself first. Her analysis of his work after playing it through once was positive and constructive. "When you played it, I really liked your second tum-ti. Let's see if you can get the first one to sound as good as the second did." After fixing the rhythm, they discussed dynamics, explaining them and had him play it after discussing it. They then moved on to the next piece, Allegro. After having him play it through one time, she discussed style/contrast, which amounts to articulation. She had him play it through again. She asked him to play more confidently--you know what you're doing! To increase finger speed in a tricky spot, she had him practice the passage with different rhythms (dotted 8th-16th and 16th-dotted 8th), and said them out loud before having the student try them (long-short long-short and short-long short-long). She then had him play it with the proper rhythm and he was much better at that passage. When he was playing and needed to correct him, she would stop him and, for example, if he was playing on the wrong string, would ask what string the note is on. If he had a problem or had consistently played something wrong (wasn't just a nervous finger flub), she would stop and correct it. During discussion, she would ask if he remembered what various markings meant. She engaged him in very useful thought in terms of making sure he knew what string various notes were on or that he knew what the music was asking him to play. She didn't get her instrument out and play until she introduced a new piece and demonstrated it for him. She had him follow along in the music and occasionally stopped and asked him to point to where she was in the music. She talked with him about what to look for in a piece that he hadnt played before--style, dynamics, and repeated sections. She had student speak the finger numbers before playing with the bow. After he tried a section, she told him "if you're going to make a mistake, make it loud--just play more confidently!" When he got a fuzzy sound, she said "oops, make sure you're playing on just one string." Since he had trouble figuring out which string he was supposed to play various notes on, she explained that "this song will help you sort out what string you're supposed to be playing on." When asking him to play a section, she was very clear in where she wanted him to start/stop playing, and she didn't count off, but had the student start when he was ready since he was playing by himself. After he had sightread Perpetual Motion, she complimented him on good sightreading and having his fingers right in tune.
For the last few minutes of the lesson, she pulled out the provided Suzuki Duets book and played duets for May Song and Allegro, introducing them as a different part for her to play. She said it will sound different than your part but they will sound cool together. She had the student count off to begin. She stopped in the middle of the duet if there were problems and fixed them. At the end of lessons, she reviewed what she wanted him to work on for the summer and talked about the different opportunities he would have if he stuck with music through high school (pit orchestras, playing in competitions in orchestra, small group ensembles, music camps, teaching, and touring with orchestra). She helped him pack up and reminded him of the order to pack in--cello first, then bow, to avoid breaking the bow when putting the cello in the case (a soft case).

Her next student was named Ryan. As he was unpacking, they chatted about his summer plans. For a warmup, they reviewed Long Long Ago. She corrected his bow placement saying "for the best sound, move your bow down a little." They then reviewed dynamics--remember what these mean? She compared dynamics in music to dynamics in speaking--whispering vs. talking vs. yelling. However, she did not go over HOW to get different dynamics on the instrument, just what they were. I think it always helps to review how to do loud/soft on the instrument. She told him to keep on working on this one as a warmup to the variation to it and to concentrate on dynamics. For the variation, she had him play it through once, calling out pause! after a while to fix his bow placement. In a part that he fumbled on, she said "they're trying to fool you--it's a little different there." Because he played the whole thing staccato (it's two slurred legato, then two slurred staccato the whole way through), she talked about articulation--legato vs. staccato. She had the student play it after giving each suggestion for change, which is good because he can focus on fixing one thing at a time--more than one and the student's brain gets scrambled. To move to the next piece, she asked if he had gotten a chance to work on it and said "let's see how it's coming." The student couldn't remember how it went, so she played a line and had him echo it. Then they played together, and Amy counted off (in 6/8 with a pickup, so counted 1 2 3 4 5). They went over bowings and counting. She had him tap the rhythm while he counted to 6 out loud. Then they played together while counting out loud, then she had him play alone while she counted out loud. For the next line, she had the student count out loud while she pointed to the notes in rhythm. She complimented him when the rhythms got easier for him as he got used to them. She had him play all the way through it while she counted and tapped the rhythm to help him. "Great! that's already sounding 10 times better! Does it feel better?" At the end of the lesson, she summed up everything they did for the summer and what she wanted him to work on for the rest of the summer. She again went over the opportunities for musicians, and very last she complimented him on how far he has come during the summer.

1.5 hours journaling.

Posted at 09:29 pm by snowsparkle
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Thursday, July 21, 2005
The "Concert"

Today was the last day of violin class, and every student was invited to bring family or friends to hear the little concert we were giving of what they've learned so far. Mr. Gitch started out with a little spiel about what we've learned and why it went in the order it did (a simple explanation of course, about concentrating on one set of skills at a time), and introduced me as his intern assitant teacher for the class. The majority of the concert was pizzicato songs because that's what we've worked on mostly. We went through a sampling of the whole range of what we covered, starting with open string pizzicato and moving to fingered notes on the D string and adding the fingered notes on the A string, then ending the pizzicato section with the last one we learned, Song for Christine. All along the way, we had the solos that we had picked the day before. Depending on if there was a repeat or not, we either played it together, then solo and group on the repeat, or we had the solo first, then the group. After pizzicato, they got out their bows and played through their page of open string bowing exercises with solos and all, and we ended with Mississippi Twinkle. As Mr. Gitch told the parents, it's almost wrong to end a beginning violin class without playing Twinkle. (However, I think that it would have been easier for some of the kids to grasp if it was Twinkle Theme instead of Mississippi Twinkle. Some kids couldn't figure out for the life of them what in the world this Mississippi Stop Stop thing was and what in the heck note they were supposed to be playing.) The concert lasted about 25 minutes, and Mr. Gitch had some closing remarks and told all the parents about my one free lesson deal and that they could see me to sign up a time. Once it was all done, they pretty much lined up to sign up their kids. Before today, I had signed up about 5 kids and I was worried that I wouldn't get very many and my plan to get more hours would go down the drain. But I nearly filled up my schedule all three days by the end of the morning. After the last class was done and gone, I racked all the stands, stacked the chairs (they plan to varnish the floors Monday), and stuffed letters for the mentors and looked up their addresses etc. Since I'd still rather not call people if I don't have to, I put a note in their letters asking the questions I needed to know for the survey and also for record-checking so we can pay them. I hope they'll get back to me in a timely manner, but something tells me I'll end up calling them all anway. All this stuff took an extra hour after classes. It's a really weird feeling to know I won't be seeing these kids every day anymore. Even though it's a lot of work, I really enjoyed seeing them all excited to learn new things and seeing them excited to see me and Mr. Gitch at class. I guess that's part of being a teacher--class eventually ends.

4.5 hours beginner class
.5 mentorship
.75 journaling

Posted at 09:22 pm by snowsparkle
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This blog is the daily journal of my summer internship with the summer strings program in my school district. I will be assisting the String Mentors (high school aged teachers for individual summer lessons), assisting with the beginning string classes, and will be an administrative office assitant. Fun fun!

The numbers at the bottom of each entry are hours for office assitant/mentor tutoring/beginner class assistant/journaling and misc/total hours left until I reach the 3 credit hour mark of 120 intern hours. Before July 14, the numbers are office/mentorship/beginner class/total left.

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