7 Ways to Track Individual Student Progress in the Band Class
Sponsored by Aamano Music, Inc.
The items you’ll need for this project are a tuner, a metronome, and a simple rubric you create listing the pitches you will be testing. For this exercise, you will need to listen to each student individually, so be sure to plan accordingly. For each student designate the range you will be listening to. Set a tempo on the metronome and have the students play each pitch of the chromatic scale. Tell them they have four counts to get the pitch in tune. For the best base-line data, give this test without warning (and of course without a grade). This will give the starting point for each student. Repeat this test periodically throughout the year. After the initial test, you may begin to implement grading for each subsequent test. Return to this test at least twice during the school year. The results will give you the beginning (or base-line) data, mid-point data and end of year data.
At the beginning of the year, give your band members a packet of rhythm sheets of various difficulties. (I’ve included a link in the description for some great resources to help you put together an awesome rhythm packet). Test each student individually on the various levels to find out where they are. Implement daily rhythm exercises from the rhythm packet you put together. Return to this test at least twice during the school year to get your baseline, midpoint and end-of-year data.
For this project, test each student to see how many scales he or she knows. Set a goal for how many scales you want the students to know by the end of the school year. Use resources like 12 Keys in 12 Weeks to help reinforce not only the scales but also technique, intonation and facility for each of the major scale center. Re-test the students throughout the school to document their progress.
A student’s range can be a major factor in deciding repertoire for the ensemble. At the beginning of the year, test the students’ range by asking them to play an ascending chromatic scale to the highest note they can play. Develop exercises to increase the range of the students playing. Re-test the students periodically throughout the year gather the data you’ll need for the end-of-year evaluations.
There several online resources like Sight Reading Factory and Practice Sight Reading for the development of these skills in the band. On each of these sites you can create new sight reading exercises daily at various levels. Just as with the other evaluation tools, test the students’ sight reading capacity by having them read through several exercise of increasing difficulty. Implement sight reading on a regular basis in the rehearsal. Re-test the students at least two more time throughout the school year to track their progress. I’ve included links in the description for two resources I mentioned earlier.
Look through the repertoire you have chosen for the year. List all of the musical terms the students will encounter. List the basic terms like "piano" and "forte" as well as the terms they may not be familiar with like "Maestoso" of "L’istesso". Be sure include symbols like "crescendo" and "coda". Handout the entire list of the terms within the first week or two. Have them identify every term they know. This is also a great way to see which terms you need to cover and which terms they already know! Revisit the same list throughout the year (maybe mix it up for fun) and track the growth of each student as they learn new musical terms.
Be sure not to dismiss the basic idea the ensemble or rehearsal skills we teach on a daily basis. Evaluating how the student participates in band can be just as useful as evaluating technical skill. It is in the daily routine we establish as conductors that the growth of the entire program flourishes. It is not simple enough to be technically proficient on the instrument; every band member must contribute to the advancement of the ensemble. How well the students acts towards this goal is a skill we must teach. With a good amount of thought, the wind conductor can develop a rubric to assess how well a students is meeting the expectations of the group and utilizing the ensemble skills we teach. For more information on how to evaluate a student’s participation through an assessment of their ensemble skills, check out Grading and Assessment in the Performance-Based Music Classroom. This ebook also has a lot of resources and rubric for evaluating all aspects of the band program from participation to individual playing tests to assessing the concert performance.
Recognition by John Philip Sousa performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band
The Honored Dead by John Philip Sousa performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band