• Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Incorporating Student-Selected Repertoire in Ensembles

    Laura Johnson is a band director at a Title I middle school in Chesapeake, Virginia. Before moving to Virginia, she taught middle school band in central Minnesota. Laura is passionate about having students select repertoire in her ensembles. She was inspired by her own high school band experience, where she and her classmates were given the opportunity to do this. Laura feels that many times directors choose music they think the students will like. However, instead of making this assumption, she believes it’s more powerful to let the students have some choice. As a result, Laura has identified a six-step process for using student-selected repertoire in her ensembles.  Discussion: First…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Creating a Student-Run Charity Concert

    We had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Rakickas, a junior high school band director in Aptakisic-Tripp School District in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She’s been in Aptakisic-Tripp School District for 20+ years, first teaching 5th and 6th grade band, and now 7th and 8th grade band. Allison talked to us about how she passed the baton to her students so they could plan and implement a charity concert. A new performance space in her school inspired Allison; it was a small venue that could hold about 125 audience members. She wanted to give the 6th-grade students a voice in determining how to use this space and decided that they would put on a benefit concert.…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Consider the Learner Experience

    One thing we have learned over the last nine months is that music teachers are incredibly creative people and very capable of innovation! We’ve seen bitmoji classrooms, virtual field trips, bouncing ball videos and more. All of this to meet the musical needs of our students during a highly unusual time in history. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! As we enter the second half of the school year and continue on this creative path, we should keep one thing in mind: always consider the learner experience.  We’ve seen teachers post on social media about how they’ve spent 30 minutes explaining a concept only to have student submissions lacking…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    From A Distance: Giving Students Voice and Choice

    Providing opportunities for voice and choice is one of the most basic ways to empower students (and personalize learning) in the music room. When students feel they have a voice in their musical journey and can make choices for themselves, they can take ownership of their learning. **This post was originally published on Off the Beaten Path: A Music Teacher’s Journey. In my last blog post, Focus on What We Can Do, I discussed how during distance learning we cannot try to replicate everything we did in our classrooms. It’s not the same and we can’t try to make it that way. Instead, by focusing on what we can do now,…