Wednesday, October 30, 2013

10/30/13 - Day 48

Day 48 - York Community High School
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
10/30/13 7:00 am

I came in very excited to intruduce the Elgar to symphony orchestra.  We had a department meeting before school. The main topic of discussion was field trip planning. Several teachers are interested in taking their groups on longer, more expensive trips. During our first period prep time we hashed out my plans for concert and cadet rehearsals. We played through the opening of the patriot and did some good work through the section in 3/4. During symphony we played through the entire piece, but had to stop several times. The tempo got bogged down quite a bit, but we gave them a solid taste of of how the piece sounds.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10/29/13 - Day 47

Day 47 - York Community High School
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
10/29/13 7:00 am

This morning I studied scores and prepared for rehearsal and the second violin sectional. Having the first period free to prep is a huge advantage. We discussed my plan for concert orchestra and altered it drastically. Mr. O suggested that I let them play through more of the piece before I make any comments about the theory behind it. I also had some rehearsal techniques that, upon second thought, weren't the best approach. We had a guest performer today; professor of cello from southern Illinois. She played Bach suites and worked with some cello students. I filled in on cello with the cadet orchestra and ran the entire remainder of the period with the concert orchestra.  I didn't feel good about it, but after discussing it with Mr. O, I felt better about.  Symphony orchestra had a full rehearsal with winds.  After school, I led the second violins through some of the Elgar serenade for strings.

Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28/13 - Day 46

Day 46 - York Community High School
Monday, October 28, 2013
10/28/13 7:00 am

Upon my arrival we discussed possibilities for Gesu bambino as well as strategies for the patriot. I went to the copy room to pick up parts for the rest of the orchestra. The first violins in the cadet orchestra have issues with playing confidently and staying with the my tempo. They often drop a beat, while the cellos tend to rush.  Eventually everyone meets in the middle, at least, most of the time. I have to work indivIn concert orchestra, Gesu bambino seems to be well within their reach. I'll have to work on executing the measures with fermati. In discussing the piece later with mr. O, I realized that I missed a section where the soloist rests and the melody was missing because all of the first violins were playing the solo part.

10/25/13 - Day 46

Day 46 - York Community High School
Friday, October 25, 2013
10/25/13 7:00 am

As usual, I started off with the preparation of parts. After we settled on Gesu Bambino for the concert orchestra, we discussed some considerations for that piece.  Then, we discussed briefly pieces that might work with the symphony orchestra. We used Friday to brush up on earlier pieces with the cadet orchestra, so I didn't lead rehearsal. In concert orchestra we handed out parts to the soloists. During the fourth period I worked with the soloist on her part. I had to leave school early in order to meet my wife at the doctor for our first ultrasound!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10/24/13 - Day 45

Day 45 - York Community High School
Thursday, October 24, 2013
10/24/13 7:00 am

I made some copies and prepared some more parts for chamber ensembles when I arrived this morning. Secondly, we talked about my plan for concert orchestra. I had a lesson plan prepared and printed it out.  When it came time to run a portion of rehearsal, some of my strategies and plan weren't needed.  We got through another 16 bars (to the end), and I also inroduced the first section of the song. It's difficult to predict what will need work. I feel like I can predict trouble spots pretty well, but then, to my surprise they will execute something that I though would be troublesome. Or, they will struggle with something I thought would be difficult.

10/23/13 - Day 44

Day 44 - York Community High School
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
10/23/13 6:45

There was a fine arts meeting to start this morning off. I'd met most of the faculty in the department already, but it was good to fill in the gaps. After the meeting we found some chamber music for more of the groups. Then, we discussed what I would rehearse with concert orchestra. After scales, and a little bit of the rehearsal on the Soon Hee Newbold, I had my first taste of podium time. We tackled about 16 measures of music. I had the cellos clap their rhythm after they struggled initially. I did some additional counting and playing when other rhythms became difficult. The other classes were spent observing and sitting in on violin.  I coached a chamber group with one violin and 3 cellos. It was great to get immediate feedback about my performance with the concert orchestra.  We met later in the day and discussed my segments of class. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/22/13 - Day 43

Day 43 - York Community High School
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
10/22/13 6:45

I met the vice principle this morning before school to check in and make sure my ID was on the way. I also observed the jazz band before school.  After listening to the jazz band, I prepared some parts for the patriot and tended to other logistics with parts. I spent a lot of class time observing and looking at the scores. I tuned a few instruments and fixed some pegs that were slipping. I repaired a chin-rest. In cadet orchestra, we handed out parts for the patriot and ran two other songs.  In concert orchestra I noticed the second violins struggling, so I grabbed a violin and joined them. Mr. O has suggested that I balance my viewpoints between teacher and player, so I'm trying to resist the urge to play all the time.  The symphony orchestra sounded great with the wind and percussion. It was exciting to here the full orchestra!! A lot of missed notes, but some beautiful moments as well

Monday, October 21, 2013

10/21/13 - Day 42

Day 42 - York Community High School
Monday, October 21, 2013
10/21/13 7:30

I was pretty excited to sleep in a little bit later. I was a bit nervous about the commute, but it's really only about 15-20 minutes longer that my previous commute. Working with Mr. Ostwald makes the trip worthwhile. Plus, there are some very talented players at the high school and everyone is held to a very high standard. I conducted a chorale in the first and second orchestras. Otherwise, I just aided in tuning and observed. My role at the high school is going to be much different. The level of musicianship in the top group was intimidating at first, but now it's exciting. I'm looking forward to working with the jazz ensemble tomorrow. I wish I had enough time to work with the guitar class, or the music tech class.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

10/18/13 - Day 41

Day 41 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, October 18, 2013
10/18/13 6:45

I was excited and nervous to have the kids all to myself today.  We had rehearsal with a huge group of elementary beginners and the room was overflowing. Some of the kids showed up almost a half hour late.  It was intimidating having about 60 kids in one room without any experience in a large ensemble. After rehearsal, I went to Stevenson and taught two groups of upper strings and one group of cellists. I had seen many of them sbout an hour earlier.  The seventh and eighth graders were very squirrelly and chatty, but it was great to have one last rehearsal with each of them before we have orchestra rest next week.  Afternoon lessons at Apollo rounded out the week. One of my favorite groups of beginning violinists made up my final lesson at the district.

10/17/13 - Day 40

Day 40 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, October 17, 2013
10/17/13 6:30

The last morning rehearsal with chamber orchestra made me sad to think that it almost time to transition to the high school. It's amazing how talkative and energetic these kids can be at 6:30 am. It's fun to work with this group. We can get through a lot more material than with the larger groups.  After elementary rehearsal at 7, we went to Stevenson for group lessons.  Seventh and eighth grade rehearsals went well, I had the seventh graders play some of mango tango to keep things fresh.  Both classes presented me with oversized thank you cards.  The eighth graders presents me with a gemini t shirt and gift cards as well.  I was really touched to see their gratitude and comments expressed in the cards.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10/16/13 - Day 39

Day 39 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
10/16/13 6:30

Today I started off helping a seventh grade violinist that performed poorly on her playing test. We worked on bowings in all blues, and corrected one fingering. In mango tango we cleared up some fingering issues. The elementary intermediate rehearsal had a low turnout.  All elementary schools had an early dismissal today, so that might have led some to believe that we didn't have rehearsal. Because  only 2 violas, 4 violins, and 1 bass turned up, Mr. Radtke had a private lesson with the bass student and I led the upper strings. The 7th grade rehearsal was less than stellar. I was very happy with the 8th grade rehearsal. We didn't have any group lessons with elementary students in the afternoon, so we had time to reflect with Dr. Sinclair and Mr. Radtke on my lesson with the 8th graders.

Monday, October 14, 2013

10/15/13 - Day 38

Day 38 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
10/15/13 6:30

Chamber orchestra rehearsal went pretty well.  We worked on gavotte and romanza. The elementary morning orchestra rehearsal start this week.  It was slightly chaotic having 50 students in a room that is new to them with instruments they have only been playing for a month. 7th and 8th grade orchestra rehearsals went well.  I'm excited to have this entire week devoted to my arrangements.  I have to brainstorm some more ideas to run more effective rehearsals and encourage more people to improvise during the solo section. In the afternoon, we gave lessons at Nelson to beginners. Two violin students with IEPs make for a challenging lesson, but we have a lot of fun. During the cello lesson, one student really struggles and needs the majority of my attention while the other patiently waits for us to catch up.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

10/11/13 - Day 38

Day 38 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, October 11, 2013
10/11/13 6:30

The last of the morning playing tests were heard this morning. The range of ability is astounding.  There are students that come in and play the excerpts perfectly and others that struggle to play more than a few correct notes. I'd like to create some simplified parts for students that are seriously struggling, but I only have four more days at the school. We played through the solo section of my blues arrangement in concert orchestra, and after finishing up the playing tests in sinfonia, I led them through a little bit of Feliz Navidad. In the afternoon, we travelled to Apollo and had three great lessons with upper string groups. Looking forward to a nice three day weekend!

10/10/13 - Day 37

Day 37 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, October 10, 2013
10/10/13 6:30

I listened to several more playing tests this morning. I ran out of space for video, so I've been recording just audio instead. After the morning playing tests we had a little prep time before heading to Stevenson for lessons with intermediate vioinists. Then, I finished up the playing tests with concert orchestra and led them through some of my blues arrangement. I couldn't quite get through all of the sinfonia students, so I'll have to finish them tomorrow.  In the afternoon, we went to Nelson to teach two large groups of upper strings and a pair of cellists.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10/9/13 - Day 36

Day 36 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
10/9/13 6:30

Another day full of playing tests. We're past the halfway point now! Some players sound great. And others really struggle.  I'm finding notes that everyone misses. Particularly, a lot of students playing a C sharp when we're in the key of G. One student told me that they didn't even know how to play a c natural.  I've also noticed that just about all of the violins struggle with the C sharp on the g string. The third finger is never high enough. On the bright side, it is nice to get some one on one time with each student and hear them play individually.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

10/8/13 - Day 35

Day 35 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
10/8/13 6:30

The first batch of playing tests started before school today and went pretty well. They feel rushed to me, but we have a lot of students to get through. A couple of kids bombed, but most did pretty well. Testing 100 students in one week is quite a challenge. They have never done playing tests at gemini and all of the students are very nervous. The more playing tests I hear, the more skeptical I become about some of our repitoire choices. I like running rehearsal a lot more than running the testing. Group lessons were kind of challenging at Nelson this afternoon. Group lessons with different levels of ability and a short amount of time to work with!

10/4/13 - Day 34

Day 34 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, October 4, 2013
10/4/13 6:30 AM

One violist has come in to take advantage of morning rehearsals three times now. She has improved greatly, but doesn't practice enough at home.  After the lesson, i made copies and prepared for the middle school orchestra rehearsals. Then, we travelled to Stevenson and gave group lessons.  There was a tornado drill that cut one lesson short.  In 7th grade rehearsal we ran through mango tango and plowed ahead in all blues. In 8th grade rehearsal Mr. Radtke led them in Feliz Navidad while I roamed in the lower string sections. In the afternoon we travelled to Nelson and gave group lessons.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

10/3/13 - Day 33

Day 33 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, October 3, 2013
10/3/13 6:30 AM

I sat in on the cello and viola sections for morning chamber orchestra. The violas seem to be the section that struggles the most. I was dissapointed that a violinist signed up for extra help at 6:30 and never showed up. A cello student showed up for help on his parts and we made a lot of progress in the 20 minutes before school. Then, we gave three group violin lessons at Stevenson.  In 7th grade orchestra we drilled a few spots in mango tango and then ran it. We also progressed a little further in all blues to a section we hadn't touched yet.  In 8th grade orchestra we sight read Feliz Navidad and played a little further in duke's juke. In the afternoon, we gave a cello lesson and two large group lessons to beginning violinists and violists.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

10/2/13 - Day 32

Day 32 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
10/2/13 7:30 AM

Today was a late start day for the students.  There was a faculty meeting at 7:30. Topics included: a new format for parent teacher conferences, standards for conduct throughout the building, and the new system to use google docs with the students. After the meeting I emailed my charts and mp3s to the high school teacher for orchestra day.  7th grade orchestra focused on mango tango.  Lots of slow work on pitches is still needed? 8th grade orchestra rehearsal was devoted to we are the world. We worked on a few tricky bowings and rhythms.  In the afternoon, I gave violin and cello lessons at Twain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10/1/13 - Day 31

Day 31 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
10/1/13 6:30 AM

Chamber strings started the day off. We handed out some new music, read through three pieces, and practiced playing the melody from memory on Appalachian spring.  A violin student showed up for extra help at 7:15.  I left rehearsal to help her and Mr. Radtke took over rehearsal.  We didn't have any elementary lessons in the morning, so I was able to prepare bell ringers and organize music.  We continued our work on "mango tango" with the 7th graders and "we are the world" with the 8th graders.  I still have the feeling that mango tango is too difficult for the 7th graders.  We're still fixing notes and fingerings. Luckily, my arrangement of "All Blues" is easy.  In the afternoon we travelled to Nelson and gave cello, viola, and violin lessons to 2nd year players.

9/30/13 - Day 30

Day 30 - Gemini Jr. High
Monday, September 30, 2013
9/30/13 6:30 AM

In addition to the cello students, we had three students come in for extra help this morning.  One violist, one violinist, and one bassist.  It was difficult splitting up the time evenly, but I roamed between the three of them and gave them little sections to work on with practice tips. I have debated about how to best utilize class time.  Should we focus on one song a day?  Should we drill a few sections in each song to keep them all fresh?  I find myself shushing the class a lot, but as long as I nip it in the bud, they usually respond well and stay focused.

9/27/13 - Day 29

Day 29 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, September, 27, 2013
9/27/13 6:30 AM

Friday always puts people in a good mood, but it also makes the kids a little squirrelly.  The day started off with a viola lesson. She has made some solid progress.  Seeing some of the weaker players individually makes me think that we may have chosen a piece that is too challenging.  The upper strings are really struggling with F natural, C natural, and B flat.  The key signature of D minor might be a little advanced for this group.  Both full ensemble rehearsals went really well. I taught the 8th graders how to chop.