Electric String Ensemble Checklist

Electric string ensembles in school music programs are not the far-fetched idea they once were. Hundreds of high school and middle school programs have added electric quartets, quintets and more to their existing orchestra programs. In this article, we’ll take a look at the things you’ll need to get started.

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Assessments: Focus on Goals, not Grades

Music educators are no strangers to evaluation. Often, these evaluations happen when a cul­minating activity — like a festival, concert or recital — presents a finished product for consideration.

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1349 Hits

Create A Chamber Program

Chamber ensembles allow students to practice and perform with like-minded musicians while providing camaraderie. Being in smaller groups builds perform­ance and technical skills, boosts confidence and con­nects musicians, says Dr. Matthew Geiger, director of percussion studies at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.

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767 Hits

Resources for Online Teaching

Updated 6/29/2020 at 8:51 a.m. PDT

We want to do our part to help music educators as you explore options and search for resources to facilitate online teaching.

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20825 Hits

The ABCs of Classroom Management

As a veteran teacher, I'm often asked about my concept of classroom management by prospective and new teachers. My short answer is this: Managing your classroom isn't about any one thing but rather about your philosophy of how you deal with everything. 

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Ignite a Passion for Practice

Rather than relying on external motivation, successful teachers inspire students to fuel their own flame to attain a higher level of mastery. To this end, Chris Gleason, instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, taps into "the deeply human need to direct [one's life] and to learn, create and do better."

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1859 Hits

Mater Dei's Mentor Program

In Case Study: Private School Outreach, we learned about the Mater Dei Music Academy. The middle school students in the program join the Mater Dei High School band — a close-knit group of about 50 — for several performances throughout the year. To form a cohesive unit among students from a variety of schools and ages, Taylor Smith — director of the Music Academy and associate band director at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California — created a mentorship program.

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1039 Hits

Teaching Musicality to Percussionists

As an educator, I have never understood why young percussionists are not taught more about musicality. My wife is a flute teacher, and she teaches musicality to kids in sixth grade. Why is it that percussionists get to college and still do not know the basics about shaping a line?

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1260 Hits

Improve Students’ Tone

In music, tone is distinct and identifiable, and when played correctly and in harmony within an ensemble, it sets the overall mood and quality of a performance. However, mastering tone does not come easily.

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1274 Hits

Use Lunchtime to Work Together

In the blog post, Case Study: Music Program Teamwork in Tennessee, we learned how the band, orchestra and choir directors at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tennessee, often plan, brainstorm and collaborate during the only time the three of them are free­ — their common lunch period. Chris Janowiak, Cassandra Brosvik and Lauren Ramey use this same creative planning with their students.

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972 Hits

Teach Your Students the Best Way to Oil Valves

It's the night of the beginning band concert, and the curtain will go up soon. You're back stage shepherding all of your students, who are bubbling with nervous excitement, to their chairs. Then, from the rear of the ensemble one of your trumpets raises his hand and says, "My valves are sticky – can you help me oil them?"  

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Conducting 101 for High School Students

Imagine a director asking, "Can you make your sound move the same way you moved your arms?" Earlier in the rehearsal, the director showed students how to indicate the dynamics of forte with wide, sweeping motions and piano with smaller, more nuanced wrist flicks.  

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1289 Hits

High School Student Leaders Can Help Recruit Younger Music Students

The best recruiters for music programs are our current students. When re­taining music students from middle and elementary schools, look to high school students to help because they serve as the best public relations for the program. These student leaders are role models and can make an immediate and impactful impression on younger students.

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1371 Hits

Make a Plan: 8 Ways to Maximize Rehearsal Time

Try to fit these eight recommendations into every rehearsal. If you keep things moving, it's amazing how much you can accomplish during a 45-minute class.

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1504 Hits

Build Teamwork with Drum Circles

On the first day of school, new students may come to band class and sit timidly, not making eye contact with others. If the teacher facilitates a drum circle, then by the end of class, everyone will be smiling, chatting and bubbling with excitement.

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2586 Hits

Chamber Ensembles Help Develop Student Leaders

Several students sit in a practice room, their chairs arranged in a small arc with their music sitting on stands among them. While they lack the physical presence of a band director, they take initiative and guide themselves through rehearsal. 

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834 Hits

Festival Etiquette

Performing at a festival is so much more than "performing the music." You should have high expectations for appearance and demeanor for performers as well as the audience. Here are some tips for your next formal performance.

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928 Hits

Add These 3 Exercises to Your Percussion Practice Sessions

As a percussionist, there are three things that we should always work on — reading, rolls and ear/listening. I know it is naive to believe that these are the only things to work on, but if you can continue to improve in these areas, you will be more prepared for the future. 

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1558 Hits

8 Tips for Sight-Reading Success

The key to sight-reading success? Consistent daily practice, according to Dr. Charles R. Jackson, Jr., part-time assistant professor of music at Kennesaw (Georgia) State University, and Michael Burritt, professor of percussion and chair of the woodwinds, brass and percussion department at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. 

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1273 Hits

DonorsChoose Helps Provide Quality Music Education

In my more than 30 years working in music education, I have observed a great deal of change. However, one constant is the overwhelming impact that music teachers have on the overall success of their students.

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