Hi Everyone! My apologies for the very late introduction to my internship this semester.
For Spring 2012 I am doing my MIE guided internship with NEC’s MusicLaunch Program at the Wang YMCA in Chinatown. MusicLaunch is a program with 13 students between the ages of 4 and 15 who meet every Saturday morning to learn music for an hour and a half. With these students, we use both traditional and innovative teaching techniques to work on basic fundamental music skills (rhythms, pitch, solfege) as well as learning instruments. Coordinating the program is Devin from NEC. The other instructors include fellow intern Salinla and middle school music teacher Johnny.
We spend a lot of time splitting the students up in small groups determined by age and instrument. In my small group I have four students from ages 10 to 13. Two of them play clarinet, one plays alto saxophone, and one plays trombone. When I first started I noticed that the students already had a decent amount of experience reading music and understanding notation. However, the students had very little experience playing their band instruments. I immediately saw the challenge in meeting in instrument groups for such a short time once a week: the students would not get reinforcement as often as most people get when learning these instruments. With band instruments, it takes such a long time and a lot of practice to develop the muscles for the proper embouchure, to reinforce good position/posture habits, and to get comfortable using so much air.
The other main challenge I noticed coming in was negative behavior in the class. Fortunately two of my small group students showed me right away that they were very polite and cooperative, but unfortunately, the other two showed me the opposite. One of the uncooperative students is the disruptive, antagonistic type. He constantly complains, talks back, and is not shy about saying that he doesn’t enjoy being there. His younger sister barely speaks, doesn’t want to participate, and has been known to cry in previous semesters in order to get out of participating. Neither of these students had shown any evidence of ever having practiced the material between classes.
I noticed immediately that my personal goals for this semester would need to be modified. As you all may have seen in my proposal, my main interest was getting the students to be comfortable using their ears in addition to what was on the page. Because of their lack of experience on their instruments, and because of the importance of reinforcing practice and study on these instruments in order to make progress, I had to put that main goal on the back burner. I am hoping that, in time, I will be able to reintroduce ear training of sorts into my lesson plans.
Thank you all for reading and please stay tuned for more posts!