We’re so excited to be back representing Forum Music Festivals and Forum Educational Travel this conference season!
We will be at the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) Conference February 3-4, 2023 at the Mesa Convention Center. Be sure to stop by and say hello to Gary and Michelle Wampler at our booth!
After that, you can find us at the CASMEC Conference February 16-18 in Fresno! Be sure to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall to say hi to Becky and Matt!
These conferences are an excellent opportunity for both students and educators alike, offering networking opportunities, chances to see other ensembles, and experience enriching presentations. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for latest info on our whereabouts at both events. We look forward to seeing you there!
Have you ever thought about the dizzying number of hats worn by music teachers?
· Teacher of music (goes without saying)
· Pep band organizer
· Budget planner
· Rehearsal or sectional leader
· Booster club overseer
· Show designer
· Music librarian
· Performer of gigs
· Private instructor
Let’s talk about one of the most important gigs – Music Department Publicist.
Doesn’t seem obvious and isn’t something you learned in college, right? But consider this – student musicians deserve just as much recognition as student athletes, student scientists, and student thespians. You and your musical colleagues owe it to your students to keep music in the forefront of the minds of parents, the community, and administration. Sad to say, music education is regarded as fluff in many districts. Decision makers don’t always see the value in arts education of developing the whole person. As the music teacher at your school, the tools at your disposal will keep the melody playing.
Some things to think about:
· Use the LED display outside school to announce auditions, recognize graduating senior musicians, or post the school concert calendar
· Your ensemble should perform at school at every possible opportunity – singing happy birthday to teachers, staff, or administrators, caroling the classrooms at Holidays, performing during lunch breaks or assemblies. Back to School Night or Open House is a great way to show off your students’ developing skills.
· Use the P.A. system at school to feature drum major announcements, important solo/ensemble results, or other highpoints of musical competitions and festivals.
Of course, if you put your ensemble front and center, you must strive for excellence. Students want to be part of something outstanding. Producing a solid result in your ensemble will give your school community bragging rights about their music programs. Siblings of your current students will choose to join in on the musical magic. Travel to your local elementary or middle schools to give them a taste of musical prowess so they can join in the fun.
Local papers and other avenues of communication are always looking for community tidbits. Press releases about festival results or prospective travel, fundraising needs, or student achievements and awards are always appropriate.
Opportunities abound for introducing younger students to music. Have a before or after school “instrument petting zoo” where prospective musicians can touch and try out various instruments or learn a simple song. Your current students can be the “zookeepers” and demonstrate instruments or answer questions. Give your current students some talking points so they can exude the energy and excitement that comes from being part of an ensemble.
Plan a trip. Music students traditionally travel, both close to home and far away. Nothing sells your program like taking the show on the road. The community can join in with a farewell dinner or a welcome home party. At Forum Festivals, we assist music groups to plan the best trip for their budget, their skills, and their interests. And we witness the results year after year when returning groups arrive with increased growth and musical proficiency.
Make it fun! Smile and be welcoming! Choose a day a week where students can congregate in your classroom at lunch or other break times. One orchestra teacher had a “donut day” where her current students brought in a friend to meet her and check out the instruments. Both left with a donut in hand. *
There’s a common thread here – positivity! Your attitude and effort will go a very long way to ensure that music is an equal opportunity elective in your school. Be a cheerleader for your music students! It’s worth the effort and your program will only benefit by the added admiration and respect.
*Maria Stefanova Mar – http://www.musicteachingandparenting.com/four-tricks-to-recruit-even-more/
Reward administration and school staff with a BIG MUSICAL THANK-YOU presented by your students! Invite them to the band or choir room (or MPR) for a mini concert with refreshments!
Reward parents and friends who have supported your program with a BIG MUSICAL THANK-YOU at the end of the year concert.
“Sign up for next year” Give your students some solid reasons they should! (Music trip, friendship, a place to belong, concerts, you will miss them, AND FUN!)
Clean and repair! Do yourself a favor (or the colleague who follows you) & clean your classroom and repair your equipment!
Inventory your supplies and equipment. You’ll be glad you did when you start back again. Toss what cannot be repaired and organize what can be kept.
Make time for some end-of-the-year merriment in the classroom! After the final concert when the classroom days are winding down, have a fun day with Name That Tune, or Karaoke, Musical Charades, Music Trivia, or Drop the Needle. Or show some musical movies to discuss – Mr. Holland’s Opus, Music of the Heart, The Sound of Music, School of Rock, Amadeus, the list goes on and on.
Offer a chance for students to solo or ensemble in front of the class. You might be surprised to see who steps up to give it a go.
Reflect on what worked and didn’t work this year! It’s been a year of starts and stops. Most music teachers are rebuilding their programs after a two-year unwanted hiatus of remote learning. But you did it! You’re finishing up and your students hung in there with you. Now’s the time to review, then make plans for next year while everything is fresh in your memory. When you are ready to plan, we are ready to help. www.forummusicfestivals.com
Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back! You made it through another school year. Time to recharge and take care of yourself so you’ll be ready to start again with another roomful of fresh faces!
As we slowly creep into a new normal, music educators still seek performance options for young musicians.
Never fear! There’s still time!
Give us a call – With our experience and ideas, you can plan an outstanding experience that includes all the essentials – learning, fun, and performance! After all, we’ve been developing terrific resources for 27 years. A great festival trip to your choice destination is just a phone call away.
How about five tips to get you started?
What will your school administration allow? It’s an ever-evolving set of guidelines but by doing a little homework up front you’ll increase the likelihood of making a festival trip happen. Start with this first step.
Be flexible. You couldn’t start planning early. So, give us a range of dates that will work in your schedule. Friday festival dates fill up quickly, however we offer many Saturday morning options. Have an open mind and let’s get started!
Explore alternate activities. Maybe this is the year to explore different activities because of social distancing. For instance, most theme parks include outdoor rides, shows, and dining. Miniature golfing, going to a sporting event, or head to the beach for a group picnic. Enjoying a group meal outdoors might be just the thing to develop teamwork in your group. Let’s team up to find the right activity for your group given the world in which we now inhabit.
Don’t delay decision making. Because time is not on your side, be prepared to make quick decisions so you don’t lose out. Making speedy decisions may not be in your comfort zone but collecting everyone’s opinions at this date may impede the possibility of making a festival trip happen.
Learning any new skill is a challenge. Doing it in front of your friends and classmates is extra-challenging. The school music teacher has the work cut out for them.
Experienced music teachers know the frustration of unpracticed students in their ensembles. Encouraging at-home practice can be problematic since the teacher is unfamiliar with the student’s home support, other obligations (academics, chores, jobs), and their physical set up.
When I was a young piano student, my wonderful mother nagged me to practice. The day before my weekly lesson, though, filled me with dread as I was sure I hadn’t practiced enough to suit my teacher. I was learning to play the piano – what I wasn’t learning was how to practice for improvement.
When my own daughter started the flute with her band, she had a delightful teacher who approached practice differently from my own childhood experience. Key word here …FOCUS. Her teacher concentrated on improving specialized qualities of playing – intonation for a while. Then rhythm. On and on. But even more, she shared specific ideas for improvement. And she recognized that the whole picture had to include fun.
From these experiences and from adjudicator feedback, I share a couple of tips to motivate your students to practice:
Explain the difference between practice and rehearsal.
When you play a sport, you go to practice, then to the game and that’s it. Music study requires a bit more than just playing with the ensemble. Preparing for the rehearsal can be difficult for young musicians to grasp.
Did each student select their own instrument? Is he/she comfortable with sticking with that choice? Since most directors face gaps in instrumentation, how about a “viola” day or “tuba” day where each student tries out an instrument other than his or her own? If the student realizes that he/she prefers a different instrument, it may improve the practice.
Talk it up.
Talk about practice in class every day. Assume that each student is practicing at home. (Yes, we realize this isn’t the case.) Without pressure, ask students where and when they practice and if they will share practice tips to their fellow student musicians. Make it sound like everyone is doing it.
Music students are easily discouraged with their results. Be encouraging, but honest. It takes a long time to learn an instrument, just like math builds on earlier concepts and baseball starts with T-ball. Sure, gifted, and talented student musicians exist, but doesn’t everyone need to feel that they are making progress?
Set personal practice goals.
Ask students to write down a realistic musical goal for the week. For example, if a difficult passage is tripping up the student suggest they practice it ten times slowly in a row without making a mistake. If they make a mistake, start over. Most of us love playing or singing the parts that we do well while avoiding the tough parts. (I speak this from experience.) Key word here is REALISTIC. A fine line exists between achieving realistic outcomes and making practice too discouraging to even begin.
Set up a custom practice schedule.
In class, have students write down a schedule that suits their life and timelines. Ideas to share…
Schedule a “practice-free” day every week. Choose your own practice-free day. Or set the practice-free day around other obligations. This offers a needed break AND promotes time management skills.
Break up the practice time. Instead of a 30-minute session (or more), break the time into smaller increments. Using a timer is simple and helpful.
Change the practice routine. Is right after school the best time? Or does getting up 15 minutes earlier to practice work better? How about after dinner when Mom and Dad can listen? So individual, but the keyword here is CONTROL. And the student has it.
Change the practice location.
Suggest they take their instrument to the bathroom, to the dining room, outside, or to the park. Changing things up often garners a new perspective on things.
Give students real-life tips for practice.
Suggestions could include…
Singing the part to themselves.
Playing a couple of measures, then once that unit is mastered, add a measure.
Pencil in trouble spots in class to concentrate on them at home.
Playing with a friend. Who in your ensemble who could practice with you? Join in on a joint practice session. Sociability during practice – what fun!
Offering “bonus” sheet music as a reward for learning ensemble music. It develops interest and rewards good practice.
A friendly competition as a great musical motivator.
30-day Practice Tournament – Who can log the most practice in a 30-day period? (Yes, based on the honor system and the obvious results.)
Create a “streak” contest – who practiced the most days in a row?
Use text messages or classroom signs to reward musical accomplishments. (“Shout out to the clarinets for a great sectional!”) OR (“Hats off to Cindy who practiced 7 days in a row”)
Beat the teacher. Who can practice more than the teacher? The winning student teaches the class for a day.
Plan a celebration when all students have learned a piece of music.
Post a chart of Practice Champs. (Again, honor system and results)
Include performance opportunities.
Practicing without performing is monotonous. Plan performances throughout the school year. At Forum Festivals, we see the results from student engagement. Not every ensemble is world class, but every student is excited to show their stuff and wants to hear other groups. Using performance as a motivator gives students a reason to practice.
Be positive about practice and have FUN making music.
You are teaching far more than music by developing life skills through music: cooperation, civility, teamwork, and goal setting! At Forum Music Festivals, we celebrate music educators and music students at all levels and abilities! Take pride in your students’ accomplishments this year – remote learning hasn’t been easy for anyone, and your students hung in there!
Well, 2020 is over and there’s probably no one on Planet Earth that wants to re-visit that year. As we dust off those cobwebs, I can’t help but start 2021 with a spark of hope and a bucketful of admiration.
Although we missed you in 2020, there’s no doubt that music teachers have really stepped up to the plate to show grace, flexibility, and creativity for their students. Pretty sure that none of you went to college or conservatory to learn how to teach via Zoom or to teach a socially distant performance group. As a business that supports music education, we admire all of you out there who are making music happen in your students’ homes and schools. You are heroes!
Essential workers – how familiar that term is to us now. Having spent months in quarantine depending on those who make our society plug along, let’s give a round of applause to those who fall under that huge umbrella of work deemed essential. Of course, this includes health care, but it also includes those in retail grocery chains, agriculture, childcare, plumbers, mechanics, transportation, first responders, and the list goes on and on. Can we ever say thank you enough to those who keep us going?
Finally, we must admit that we all have a much more expanded appreciation for time – time by ourselves, time with those we love, and time spent discovering new talents and re-visiting old interests. For music teachers (and those of us in that world), that can also mean the simple pleasure of practicing and enjoying music. We look forward to the time when we can welcome you and your wonderful students back to a Forum Festival to enjoy, support, and encourage young musicians.