Reply To: Following "smoke and mirrors" teacher

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I hope I can add to what the others have already said because you already have some good ideas.

One thing that I would highly recommend is focus on rhythms if they can easily read the rhythms the fingers fall in place easier. David Newell has a great book out on rhythms and how to teach them called “Teaching Rhythm: New Strategies and Techniques for Success” which is an easy, fun read and is something I would pay $100 for because it works. The book only costs $30 and there are workbooks you can also get for your students that go along with the books recommended teaching style. If you look at the old MENC forum look up what has been said by others on his book and the workbook “The Simple Rhythmatician”

After they start reading rhythms well and if you are brave I would depart from the ordinary and have them compose their next concert. I do some small compositions with by beginners that they love doing and it actually causes them to push themselves to learn more. This might help you to get the kids looking in the book and teaching themselves the fingerings, vocabulary and musical markings that we all want them to learn. This is also a great way to “go back” over the old information in a new way, so you don’t insult anybody, and you know the kids have been all been presented the information. If you fashion your composition assignments/assessments correctly you should also be able to tell what students are struggling and what students can apply the knowledge that they know. For the concert you could throw in some fun pieces that work with the level that they are at and you can call your concert an “Info”rmance” instead of a “Per”formance. I did this at one of my 5th grade concerts, at the students request, and I had more comments afterwards from parents than I ever have had before on how they never realized what all went into a concert.

Sorry, I rambled but if you are interested send me an e-mail and I can show you examples of what I do with my kids.