Stepping back into the Fire!
Date: January 19, 2013
After a 17-year hiatus from teaching elementary music, I have plunged back into it, feet first!
My assignment is PK-6th grade, in a small district (260 students total PK-12), in which I am the ONLY music teacher. High school band was dropped two years ago and junior high choir last year.
I am following a teacher who the community thought very highly of, partly due to the fact that she had the kids in front of the community continuously (it seems), and she was a home-town girl.
My issues, other than I am having to win the students over during a mid-year change, is that I feel like they are expecting me to put on two "concerts" this spring.
I don't have an issue with the idea of two concerts (used to do 4/year in my old life), but more in the fact that I am solely lacking on knowledge of all the new technology that is out there. I have also been out of the loop as to what a program looks like this day and age. Couple this with the fact that the computer system at the school is grossly lacking, and works at about the pace I remember my computers working a dozen years ago.
Can I say, I am feeling a little overwhelmed?
The kids are used to performing, spending months at a time practicing for said performances, but don't appear to have learned much about theory. In my short few weeks, it appears that they learn much of their music by rote. I have had to start at the beginning with teaching about rhythm and pitches. They have no knowledge of what they look like on paper, even in the 4-6th grades.
I have had some luck this first week in showing them values of notes, having them sound out how to play "Mary had a Little Lamb" and "Hot Cross Buns" on the barred instruments, and then having them play and help me write them on the staff as we go. I guess you can say that I am using a multi-faceted approach (rhythm and pitch at the same time), using what seems to work, and then switching when it appears that isn't getting them where I would like them to be. Each class, of course, gleans something different from what I present. I am using this approach because I lose them if I work too ong on just one thing. The immediate instrument playing is helpful with keeping them on task.
I will say that my background was as a vocalist, a violinist/violist, and as a trombonist. I am not lacking the understanding of how instruments work, voices sound together, or any of the myriad of problems that others might have. I am sort of a "jack of all trades" when it somes to music. What I am lacking in, however, is how UIL works at the elementary level, how copyright issues affect the elementary teacher (what the rules are), to name a few.
My need: Resources that will help me with planning and carrying out a balanced elementary music program.
The thought that my students have NO music in their future schooling (if they stay here), or that I might not prepare them for another situation (if they move away), is slightly daunting!
I rejoice in the fact that I have a wide-open slate to draw on. I need help in finding the places "to go" (online, off line) that will help me mold this into a wonderful program, given some perseverence and vision.