First impressions in any situation is vitally important in establishing a norm for future engagements. How we prepare for and treat the first week of instruction with our new students will directly impact how far we can take them in one year.
It's the First Week of School!
Technically, we started last week on Wednesday, August 15th. We considered that “Week Zero” since it was only three days long.
Good news! We were still able to get a lot done!
We took roll multiple times (to memorize student names/faces), collected 90% of forms (yay forms!), introduced important rules from our Band Handbook, opened up and labeled every individual item in their instrument supply kits, and barely started the process of learning and passing off lines of the musical alphabet.
Alicia: Getting our Teacher’s Edition books ready! This is the first year we have an official bound copy too! I am going to try tabs on the side for each instrument and post-it notes to mark daily pages, and Chris is going to try tabs on the top and paper clips to mark daily pages. We are super pumped to have all of our materials in one place!
First In-Class Project
Alicia: On Friday, we had Band Binder Assembly day in our beginner classes! While this may seem simple, it still managed to take a full 40 minutes.
Students were required to bring:
Pencil pouch with 3 rings to go in binder
4 pencils (mechanical prefered!)
2 different colored highlighters
1 dry erase marker (to write on the white board for full class activities, and to write on the page protectors)
5 Dividers (we have students label these: Theory, Rhythm, Instrument, Scales, Songs)
30+ page protectors
We copied (double sided) the Music Theory, Rhythm Rockers, and first few pages of Instrument Instruction.
While watching the students assemble their band binders, there is a lot we can learn about them:
Now, we have a full week to firmly establish a classroom routine through musical activities that will systematically build the foundation for starting their instrument.
Chris (Brass): In the photo below you will notice that I have anything “new” marked with an asterisk next to it*. In a perfect world I would like to introduce something new everyday the first few weeks, even if it’s a tiny element that we are layering on top of something the child already knows.
We do a lot of reinforcement day to day. It is crucial for building muscle memory and for general learning! So, you will notice that we are reviewing a lot, but within that reviewing we will be making students more aware of how they are executing the objective.
For Brass the big items on the agenda this week are:
Alicia: You might also notice that we have block days on Wednesday/Thursday. That means we see each class for twice as long (85 minutes) but only on one of those days.
Even though we miss out on seeing the kids everyday of the week the extended time can be extremely beneficial. For example, I’ll have to teach reed assembly on those days, so need to prep the days before to lead up to that activity
Woodwind Finger Wiggling
Alicia: I like to teach finger dexterity and finger patterns on a pencil “pretend instrument” before handling the entire fragile instrument. By the time students are holding their full instrument, they should know the order of their fingers and the first few fingerings that will show up on their first notes page.
Take advantage of this beginning of the year excitement and start with a few easy fingering and note names quizzes. Simply draw in the notes you plan on introducing first for this basic fill in the blank fingering test. We tell our students that we only give out 100’s on quizzes. At first they are super excited to hear this, but then we elaborate to say that they will continue to retake all quizzes until 100’s are earned.
Throughout the year, we create new quizzes for new notes learned, or use the tests to reinforce previous notes that students are struggling with. This is also a great way to jump start “summer brain” with your older students at the beginning of the school year.