Building Musicianship with a Collaborative Approach during Your Orchestra Rehearsal
By NAfME Member Lisa Caravan
What reasons stand in our way of creating a stunning musical performance?
Too often, without realizing it, the goal of an ensemble class becomes to simply learn the notes and rhythms. What reasons stand in our way of creating a stunning musical performance? The looming deadline of the concert, limited rehearsal time, student attendance may be inconsistent, the choice of repertoire may be too hard OR too easy, and many more! Perhaps the students’ incentive to rehearse a piece may stop once they think they “know” it.
How do we encourage and develop a more sophisticated level of musicality in our ensembles? A collaborative approach is key to encouraging student ownership of the musical performance. The power of choice is a motivation factor. Students who have the opportunity to choose and provide input on repertoire selection for an upcoming concert feel like their voice is heard. Developing musicality within a piece as a team where both students and teacher are major contributors throughout the process will create a performance where all participants are expressing music.
Expressive Playing: The Framework
Expressive playing begins with a musical idea. During my study under the tutelage of Alan Harris, he stressed, “You must KNOW the sound in your head before you can PRODUCE that sound with your cello.” A carefully crafted musical phrase begins with developing thoughts but then you need the executive skills in order to communicate your message. Technique is in the service of musicality.
Developing musical thoughts by listening to models, singing, and/or chanting in an expressive way, and/or creating moods for a particular piece are a few ways to begin the discussion with your students in how to cultivate musicality. We must connect the thoughts to executive skills. I often encourage my performers to associate words, verbal triggers, with a specific sound. For example: Using the word zoom for a martelé bow stroke. Encouraging students to experiment and to explore different sounds will expand the number of possibilities in HOW they can play a phrase musically.
The collaborative approach to a rehearsal to build musicality as an ensemble will encourage student ownership during the process of learning.
Involving Students in the Creative Process
- ASK for input and incorporate their ideas!
- ASSIGN groups to develop storylines and decide as an ensemble what storyline you want to communicate to your audience.
- Have students ASSESS each other on whether they were convincing while portraying a certain mood or character
The collaborative approach to a rehearsal to build musicality as an ensemble will encourage student ownership during the process of learning. Other strategies and activities will be offered during my session at NAfME’s National In-Service Conference.
Session Date & Time: Saturday, November 12, 2016, 8:30-9:30am.
About the author:
NAfME member Dr. Lisa Caravan is Assistant Professor of Music at Bucknell University. Previously she served as assistant professor of String Music Education at Auburn University. Dr. Caravan has six years of public school instrumental teaching experience (grades 4-9) where she conducted a fifth grade district wide orchestra and a ninth grade orchestra. She was the music director for three years of the Tiger Strings Orchestra Program in Auburn, AL. Dr. Caravan has presented her research at state, regional, and national conferences including the College Music Society, American String Teachers Association, Suzuki Association of Americas Conference, National Association for Music Education Eastern Division Conference, New York State School Music Association, and Alabama Music Educators Conference. Dr. Caravan received the Master of Music degree in performance and literature, the Orchestral Studies Diploma and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Alan Harris. She is the first recipient of the Donald Shelter Music Education Prize and received Eastman’s 2009-2010 Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Lisa Caravan will be presenting on her topic “Building Musicianship with a Collaborative Approach During Your Orchestra Rehearsal” at the 2016 NAfME National In-Service Conference this November in Grapevine, TX! Register today!
Join us for more than 100 innovative professional development sessions, nightly entertainment, extraordinary performances from across the country, and tons of networking opportunities with over 3,000+ other music educators! Learn more and register today: http://bit.ly/NAfME2016. And follow the hashtag #NAfME2016!
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