What a great day of teaching! MS Band played through the setting of the Jupiter Chorale, HS Band worked Flourish for Band by Vaughan Williams, and the Wind Ensemble really dug into 1st Suite by Holst (After all, The British are coming…). But that wasn’t even the best part. Thanks to the encouragement and assistance of Dr. Joseph Pisano, I brought a little bit of 21st Century Technology into my presentation today. Using a Lenovo Webcam (provided by our Classrooms for the Future Coordinator Tracy Sevin), a spare data projector, a couple of microphones, and some auxilary speakers Jason Davis (from Texas!) was able to join my 8th Grade General Music Classroom. In addition to Tracy and Joe, Dr. Hoge (HS Principal), Mrs. Tina Greig (MS Guidance Councilor), and Gail Habbyshaw (a reporter from the Record Argus) were present to see the session.
I am really thankful for Joe who has inspired me to think globally about making a difference locally. We used Skype – another one of the great free programs that Mustech.net has featured – to bring Jason in. Jason was able to share some great perspective with my students about his personal experience in the music industry. He helped clarify a number of issues as it relates to the PAL Logo Program, Music Copyrights and Licensing, and the ever-present Music Downloading situation. It was so impressive seeing Jason, who is a fantastic guitarist and composer (having written music for a number of Fox shows at ESPN in addition to some great stuff with his group THAT ROCKS!) bring this perspective to the students at level and in a manner they to which they could relate. He may consider himself just one small piece of the puzzle out there, but he really helped put a lot of things in place for my students through our interview.
The great part about this project from inception, to planning and preparation, through the sesssion, to post-class analysis was recognizing the need for evolution in all of education. Our kids are so media friendly, we should not presume that maintaining older instructional techniques will still get the job done. As a band director, I have to evolve every year as my groups change and in turn so does the instrumentation. Our profession (music educator) lends itself well to a high degree of adaptability, evolution, and change. But in the case of a traditional classroom subject – even this General Music Class – the temptation of putting things on “cruise control” and teach the same way “because that’s the way I did it last year”. Nothing smells worse in the nose of students than the smell of stagnation and apathy.
We are better teachers when we are learning ourselves. We are better teachers when we have the opportunity to implement something new we have learned into our instruction. The message it sends to our students is we have their best interest as a student in mind, and are not afraid to try and improve ourselves as educators. Our commitment can improve their commitment, which hopefully improves their studies, which hopefully improves their retention and ultimately their achievement.
Reinventing yourself is not easy. Evolution is necessary. It won’t be easy as we take beginning steps all over again. But it will be worthwhile. I don’t fear making a mistake in learning something new or in my implementation of a program or concept. I fear the day when I let the profession pass me by, and can no longer grow to meet its demands. For that will be the day my students will stop learning and caring about music.
Thanks again to Joe, Jason, Tracy, and my school district for helping making this small drop in the pond happen. Hopefully, a few more of us will catch one of the ripples.