Integrating "other subjects" into your ensembles

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  • #29280
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Our high school has adopted a new vision statement that includes several areas all classes/subjects must teach toward and assess (not unlike the idea of the Common Core, though a bit broader). These areas include reading, writing, community/citizenship, listening/speaking, the creative process, and research/use of technology. In our music ensembles, we already hit several of these in some way (reading music, writing a concert critique/reflection, etc).

    The one we get stuck on is research. Students are expected to be able to use a variety of sources, cite their sources appropriately, etc. Now, I could easily give an assignment to the band where they have to go home and write some sort of paper on a given topic. However, students I’ve talked to about this have really pushed back, saying that’s not why they’re in band. They write papers in English, social studies, etc. Of course, those subjects are required and don’t have to continually justify their existence to their administration like our elective subjects like music. If kids don’t like what they’re doing, they don’t have to be here. So, without ranting further, how would you approach research in band? On the bigger issue, how do you incorporate all of these “other subjects” into what you already do, without taking away time from our already limited rehearsal/class time?

    #30672
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    I wonder how loosely you can interpret research here – what if you asked students to delve into recordings and research by listening? Assign each student a piece of music or composer or conductor (maybe things that align with what you are performing through the year), and have them do some reading and listening to different examples of each, then present what they consider to be the “definitive” or “best” example of the piece or the composer’s work to the class? It wouldn’t be written research per se, but students would have to find multiple recordings, listen, compare, read some reviews, which is research to an extent, isn’t it? Instead of a formal paper, students could present to the class, play an excerpt of the recording they chose, and explain their rationale.

    I agree that class time and homework time should not be used to write formal papers if the class is a performance class – they work they should be doing for you is practicing or rehearsing. If it was a music history elective that’s a different story, but not for band. I would get as creative as you can with the interpretation of “research” here!

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