Preparing the Student Mentors
Before meeting with their elementary buddies, high school students practiced teaching the music selections to each other. They discussed how they could be clearer with their directions and how to be patient while mentoring. After meeting with their practice buddies for the first time, they discussed the challenges of mentoring. The high school students learned from their teachers how to run an effective program while gaining valuable experience interacting with younger, less-experienced musicians.
1st Rehearsal: The high school students wore t-shirts with logos so they could be easily recognized by students and parents. They made signs indicating they were available to help carry large instruments and accompany students to their respective classrooms. The mentors helped tune instruments and sat within the sections and modeled good rehearsal behavior.
2nd Rehearsal: Some student mentors were assigned to an audition room with a string faculty member where they reviewed the audition rubric and discussed performance assessment. Other students moved between the rehearsal rooms and audition rooms to escort and comfort nervous performers.
3rd Rehearsal: The student mentors reviewed troublesome spots prior to rehearsal and helped lead sectionals. Students would assist the string faculty member by modeling performance.
Concert Day: With diagrams in hand, the high school students placed chairs, stands, and other necessary equipment in the appropriate positions. The volunteers helped direct performers to their seats and remained backstage to assist as needed.
Music educators should continue to look for ways to provide music students with the experiences they need to make informed career choices. The William Floyd All-District Festival continues to draw high school student volunteers who are eager to participate. An experience like this benefits everyone involved and encourages students to pursue a future in string education. Students who make the decision to become string teachers will help alleviate the shortage of instructors and help secure the future of string orchestral education in our public schools.
This article has been adapted from an article of the same name by Amy Mason Sckipp, which originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of School Music News, the official publication of the NY State Music Association.
— Nicole Springer. May 5, 2010. © National Association for Music Education