The Lesson Plan and the Band Class
As we move into the new school year, Wind Conductor thought it would be helpful to identify some of the terminology found in most Lesson Plan Templates and how those terms relate to the wind band classroom.
As you choose the music for the school year, consider the level of playing for your ensemble and where you would like to see them perform. Think of some of the great pieces written for Wind Band. Think which pieces are immediately accessible by your ensemble, which pieces are partially accessible to your ensemble and which pieces are beyond your ensembles abilities.
Once you made a list of music, ask yourself which elements in the music of latter two lists out of reach. The elements become the Goals or Objectives for your ensemble for the year.
For example, say you are considering LoPresti’s Elegy for a Young American, and you find your ensemble has problems with intonation at extreme volumes. An objective for the ensemble would be, “Students will perform music demonstrating good intonation at ppp and fff.”
The objectives on the lesson plan are the goals you set for your ensemble. Other more quantifiable objectives would be the students’ ability to recognize musical terms and musical elements.
For example: “Students will identify l’istesso, giocoso, con spirito” or “Students will perform the A Dorian scale (or mode).”
These are objectives the director can easily quantify the students understanding.
Whether using your State’s Educational Standards or using NAfME’s National Standards, be sure to list the standards being covered in the lesson. In a given rehearsal, a lesson will meet several different standards. However, it is important for the secondary band director to be familiar with the accepted standards of his or her district and to be a able to justify the repertoire in relationship to those standards.
Anticipatory Set or Warm-up Activity:
The warm-up activity should be a meaningful experience and each warm-up activity should tie into the music being rehearsed. Edward Lisk, in his series The Creative Director, cites studies which show students are most perceptive during the first 10 minutes of a lesson. Be sure your warm-up activity is not monotonous scales and mindless technical exercises, activities which the student can draw on and relate to as the lesson progresses.
For more information on warm-up, be sure to read the article, “Getting the Most Out of Warm-up”
Teacher Input is simply how the teacher conveys the information to the student. Here are some examples of Teacher Input in the Wind Band Classroom
Lecture on Historical Significance of the Music
Defining musical terms
Development of melodic etudes created from music to be rehearsed.
Commenting on rehearsed passages
Modeling is when the teacher demonstrates the application of the fundamentals of music as it applies to the music being performed. For example, if one of you objectives is to perform a particular rhythm, the rhythm could be part of the warm-up routine. Once the students demonstrate competency in executing the rhythm, the teacher would then demonstrate its application within the music being rehearsed.
Another example of modeling would be a demonstration of how the scales used during the warm-up activity relate to the music. The conductor may point out where in the music certain sections perform the scale or variations of it (e.g. woodwind runs, walking bass lines, and similar passages).
Modeling is the implementation of Warm-up material or Technical studies into the music being rehearsed and demonstrating the relationships. Here are some examples of modeling:
Rhythms from exercises found in the music
Scale studies applied to Key Centers for the music being rehearsed
Chords used in warm-up for Balance & Blend structured as they are in the music being rehearsed.
Melodic etudes based on melodic material from the music being rehearsed
An obvious example of evaluation in the music classroom is the individual performance test. Many new computer technologies assist in the quantification of this type of evaluation; however, this is not the only means of evaluation utilized by the Wind Conductor. The observant conductor will stop and listen to a section of music to evaluate individual and group grasp of the material.
Here are some examples of Teacher Evaluation
Checking Balance in exposed areas of the music
Spot checking an individual section’s ability to perform a passage of music
Quite often this leads to more Teacher Modeling
“Clarinets, who is playing the melody with you?”
Identifying Chord Tonality
“Trumpets, is the chord we just played Major or Minor?”
Guided Practice is the teaching technique most widely used in the Wind Band classroom. The simple fact that we are engaged in the musical activity with the students (Director Conducts, Band members follow conductor’s lead) is an example of guided practice. However, sectionals are another great example of Guided Practice. When in a sectional situation, go to each section and listen to the performance and assist when needed. Don’t underestimate small group sectionals in a rehearsal situation. Define in specific terms the material to be covered in the sectional and limit time of the activity.
Try to have a closing activity recapping what has been covered in the day’s lesson.
Review of key sections in the music
Warm down on scales in key centers from the music
Listening to professional recording of the music you are rehearsing
This the list of all the materials you will be utilizing in the rehearsal:
When planning the rehearsal put an estimate of the amount of time you would like to use to cover each item in your lesson. Remember it is okay to move on. If a section is not performing up to par 1) evaluate it, 2) guide the section through the passage, 3) demonstrate proper execution and then 4) give the expectation the students will independently make the passage better before the next rehearsal. Don’t try to “practice” sections music during rehearsal. Give yourself a timeline and try to stick with it. As you prepare for your next lesson, evaluate the timeline and adapt it accordingly.