Saturday, January 18, 2020

Less Is More


For a Masters in Music Ed project, a student from Canada interviewed me by phone yesterday. We talked for almost 90 minutes with me answering the questions she posed below. It was satisfying, but afterwards I felt that with a bit more time, I could have answered each more succinctly. (One of my favorite quotes came from someone writing a letter to a friend explaining a complex idea and saying, “Sorry I don’t have time to make this shorter.”) So later that day, with some more time on my hand, I challenged myself to give a one-sentence answer to each. Here it is: 

        1)  Please provide me a little bit about your childhood and earlier life. This can include where 
            you grew up, information about your family, as well as any characteristics you are 
            comfortable sharing about your upbringing that contribute to you who you are now.  

Gifted with Bach and Beethoven, grew into James Brown, Brubeck and Bird.

       2) Who, or what, have been some of the most influential people or events impacting your 
              teaching?  

Avon Gillespie and every student I’ve ever taught. 

        3) Could you please describe how you generally sequence curriculum from one grade to the 
               next (from one year to the next)? 

Teach a skill/ concept/ style that grows from the known and moves toward the next unknown. 

        4) Would you please summarize what your average music class might look and sound like for 
               a few different grade levels? I know this varies every day, but I am looking to get a sense of 
               how your classes start off, progress, and conclude each day. 

Enticing beginning, connected middle, satisfying ending. 

          5) Can you please tell me how you assess your students, describing the logistics of assessing 
                each student and the types of criteria you use?  

Watch them, see what needs praise or adjustment, give it to them.

         6) Do you have any classroom management strategies you can pass along to me?

Don’t “manage them,” but release their joyful musicality and guide and shape it.

        7) What are your top pieces of advice you have for beginning music teachers?

Reflection. Reflection. Reflection. And forgive yourself everything the first year.

        8) Do you have a student success stories you could share with me? Feel free to share more than 
             one if there are several that stand out. 

A thousand plus children who were happier at the end of class than they were at the beginning.

        9) Why do you teach?

It’s the favorite shirt that fits me perfectly, makes me feel good, look good and keeps me warm.

       10) Can you please tell me about some of your philosophies surrounding music education?

Teach like it’s music, making everything that makes music necessary and blissful—connection, communion, conviviality—present in each and every moment of music class. 

After the one-sentence exercise, I thought it would be even a better challenge to reduce each answer to one word! Here's my attempt:

1. Bach. 
2. Avon. 
3. Sequentially. 
4. Fun. 
5. Observe. 
6. Fun. 
7. Enjoy. 
8. Yes. 
9. Love. 
10. Play. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great exercise! I appreciate each type of answer. I find my mind works in the opposite direction, I start with one word responses that always need to be expanded upon. The other component of this course focuses on creating our own interpretation of spiral music curriculum. We name every skill and concept of music education from p-12 and then organize them into categories to see and expose the spiral relationship. It is neat to consider how response breadth's can vary from very wide to narrow, and I will need to exercise my thinking in this way for this spiral project.
    Thank you again for your thoughtful responses and time.

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