|Posted by Thomas J. West on November 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM|
This school year, one of my personal development goals (ala Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching model) is to build an instrumental music curriculum that incorporates blended learning with hybrid lessons.
In the first marking period, I created graduated assessments in tonal literacy using Smart Music, as I explained in this article. I am also using a combination of Finale, Smart Music, and Moodle to create customized practice recordings for students to work with at home.
How Model Practice Recordings Help
I create practice recordings that students can access either as a Smart Music accompaniment or as an mp3 embedded on their class web page in our school's Moodle platform. They can use their own home Smart Music subscription to practice the piece at their choice of tempo. For those who do not have Smart Music at home, they can use the mp3, which is recorded at the target tempo for concert time. Basically, if they are able to play their part accurately along with the recording at the tempo it is recorded, they have done the adequate amount of preparation for the winter concert.
In addition to an mp3 of the entire ensemble performance of the piece, I produce an mp3 of each instrument part so that they can hear their part individually. For Smart Music users, this is all a part of the same accompaniment - they simply choose their instrument's part from the list and can then play it back on a piano patch while playing along with the ensemble (or turning the ensemble off).
Model practice recordings provide the following benefits:
The Detriments of Model Recordings
As with anything, you can over-use model practice recordings. Model recordings should not become a replacement for good teaching. Some downsides to model recordings:
Making Home Practice More Fun
Model practice recordings allow students to practice at home in a way that makes it more interesting than simply playing alone. It also provides a very realistic view of how well they have progressed on their part, since they have to perform to a target tempo. With proper instruction from the teacher, model recordings can give students opportunities to work at their own pace and can provide the teacher with a way of individualizing and diversifying instruction.
Future hybrid coursework for my instrumental courses will include graduated music composition projects for my students, beginning with simple solo melodic writing and ending with two, three, and four part composition assignments. My high school level classes have already begun this process and will be recording their own performances of their original solo melodies later this marking period.
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