Professional Development

As educators, we can always glean new insights from the teaching practices in other countries. Japanese schools, for example, strive to take excellence in music education to a new level. They emphasize an early appreciation of music, with mandatory classes in elementary school and junior high. 
In the blog post, Jeff Coffin: Professor Rock Star, we learn how Coffin draws his teaching techniques from his professional career as a soloist, leader and performer with several groups including Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and Dave Matthews Band. He provides the following advice to fellow music educators.
I worked in a music store for many years, and one of the most common requests we'd get from customers was help with picking a mouthpiece. The conversation would often include something like this: "I need a new mouthpiece. I want something that lets me play higher … and sound really good!"
After a long season of percussion activities, it's time for a much-needed break. Of course, this includes your percussion equipment. Every ensemble can (and should) be proactive in protecting its equipment. Your gear has taken a lot of stress and strain, but the good news is that keeping your equipment in top competitive shape for next season is a matter of following these four steps. 
From Another Angle   The first time I ever participated in a conducting workshop, the clinician tried to get me to conduct the shape of a multi-bar phrase, rather than every single beat and note along the way. The teacher was outstanding, but I just couldn't get it — either I wasn't yet ready as a musician and conductor, or the concept wasn't explained in a way that resonated.
It's All About the Music   I will never forget, as a young director, walking into an all-state band rehearsal. My intent was to pick up a few rehearsal pointers. To my surprise what I observed transcended all that I thought rehearsals were about. 
In the blog post, The Many Faces of Trumpeter Allen Vizzutti, involving family, band directors and other musicians has been key to Vizzutti's career and success. His experience has shown that making connections are crucial for musical success. Here are some of Vizzutti's top tips for educators:
As a teenager in Missoula, Montana, Allen Vizzutti received the rare opportunity to befriend one of his idols. Doc Severinsen, trumpet player and bandleader for NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," gave a guest performance at Vizzutti's high school. With the encouragement of his band director, Vizzutti played a solo for Severinsen, who eventually became one of his most important mentors.
Like most secondary music educators, your teaching credential probably allows you to teach K-12 music — anything from elementary classroom music to high school band. We each have our specialties, but many secondary instrumental educators have found success and great personal satisfaction by learning about and providing more comprehensive and inclusive music-making opportunities. 
Any elementary-level science class teaches students that sound and light travel at different speeds; in the context of marching band, this abstract concept becomes a real challenge. Directors may be faced with a frustrating mystery when the ensemble seems to be doing everything perfectly in the band room, yet it sounds so off on the field. The problem simply boils down to that science lesson.

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