Hello out there in Bloggingland! I am sorry I have been absent lately, this school year is turning out to be harder than last year! That extra class I am teaching, World Drumming and Music, is turning out to be VERY difficult for me. I am trying very hard to come up with information and activities are that both educational and able to hold interest of 17 non-music students...and it is a challenge. The information given to me to teach the class is no where near enough to fill a whole semester so I am constantly looking elsewhere, usually with no luck. Don't get me wrong, I am still loving teaching here in Fairbanks...it is just a little stressful at the moment. All of my other classes are going VERY well...better than last year, it is just this World Music class.
On to the positive news. Rock-A-Thon is less than a month away. Fort those of you who may be newer to this blog, Rock-A-Thon is a fundraiser that the teacher before the teacher I replaced started and it is genius! Six hours of sitting in rocking chairs with music, food, and video games! Students raise money via pledges (like Read-A-Thons or a charity walk) and it is a GREAT way of raising money for our music department.
Other good news is that the Randy Smith jazz band is playing at our schools 10th year anniversary celebration and the choir is singing the National Anthem. This is a great community outreach opportunity for us. Music is largely appreciated here in Fairbanks and this is a great way for us to share our talents with the community. The jazz band is only one month into the year and is sounding great. The choir is also doing AMAZING!! Every rehearsal they blow me away. I started something new this year with choir, Music Theory Thursdays, and it is going wonderfully. I have a middle school choir accurately counting some pretty complicated rhythms. For those of you who have been in choirs, you may realize that this is a HUGE achievement. Rhythm reading is usually a huge struggle for choirs, not because they are unable to do it, but because I find that it is usually not a priority of choir teachers (this is a general observation and not meant to insult choir teachers....most of them do a wonderful job in teaching very important skills, but unfortunately rhythm reading is rarely in the foreground of the curriculum.) Middle school students in general blow my mind. The things they can learn if you take the time to teach them is unbelievable...like last years concert band creating the three minor scales from major scales...not just playing them, but truly understanding how they are constructed (lowering the third, sixth, and seventh scale degrees and manipulating then further to create the melodic and harmonic minor scales.) My jazz band last year also had a great head start on modal jazz. They knew what the dorian, mixolydian, and phrygian modes were and how they are created!! They lacked the knowledge of when to use them, but just knowing they exist and how to make them is a step in the right direction!!
Ok...I'm out. I have another long week ahead of me. I hope you all are enjoying the last bits of nice weather...I know I am. Even with my huge work load, I try to fit in a few hours a week of outside time while I can. I am sure I will find a routine that works for this year soon enough and I will hopefully be a little more regular with my posts.