Friday, May 22, 2015

Year 5: Week 35 - The Class After The Performance

How do we end the year?

Many music teachers feel their job is done after the final performance. I once observed a teacher who had her students literally watch movies for a solid three weeks because the performance was done. This is a ludicrous and self-defeating way to teach.

One of the reasons our job as music teachers at my school is so challenging is because we insist on not only having our students put on great performance that reflect high levels of musicianship but also because we are committed to having meaning and significance in the process of preparing for performances.

We all understand that a meaningful process brings significance to a performances and it is often in the preparation that our students experience their most important musical memories at our school, not the performances.

If the time after a performance is not spent doing meaningful work in music class, than it is communicating to our students "since we don't have any more performances, we have nothing to do in class." This goes contrary to our process-orientated philosophy indirectly elevating the performance.

Yes, we need to give our kids and ourselves mental breaks after performances. But beyond a class or two to relax, it is important that we take full advantage of the time we have left in the school year. This is prime time for students to reflect on the year, do important assessments, to revisit favorite activities and songs, and do the lessons that or so often hindered by preparing by performances.

We want our students' last memory of music this year to be of creative, joyous, and focused music making. Creating this memory will help our students have a better transition in the beginning of music class next fall. For example if a class of 3rd graders ends the year watching a week of DVDs that have no curricular significance, than how can we expect them to walk into 4th grade music in the fall ready to work?

Even if you don’t go along with my school’s philosophy of music education and have a stronger focus on the performance, you must recognize that any time wasted even at the end of the school year is a wasted opportunity to lay ground work for future great work.

I reject the notion that class is less significant after a performance is done. Yes, because of the reality of the tension between process and performances expectations, it often feels that preparing for the performance is critical class time and post-performance classes are more relaxed.  Regardless, we should always strive to make every minute of class, regardless of where it lies in the school year, as meaningful as we can for our students.

No comments:

Post a Comment