With the publication of the National Standards for Arts Education, music educators face the challenge of implementing and assessing these standards in a variety of music settings. This challenge is also an opportunity to show administrators, other teachers and the public why music is an integral part of every student’s educational experience. Music educators need to develop competency-based curriculum, finding the most appropriate and efficient setting for the teaching of each competency in the standards.
One particular area of concern to music educators is how to implement the standards in performance groups such as band and choir. These groups have often been perceived as merely vehicles for producing concerts, with little or no time available for the teaching of music fundamentals. At another extreme, performance is sometimes minimized and the rehearsal becomes no different from general music class.
The purpose of this project was to show ways in which minimal rehearsal time may be utilized to incorporate competencies from the standards into sixth grade band without sacrificing the performance nature of the band setting. A review of current literature related to music education philosophy, teaching and learning, and assessment showed strong support for the concept of teaching music through active involvement in performance. Rather than separating what is learned from what is performed, performance brings process and product together.
This paper presents games, activities and assessments which may be implemented using small amounts of rehearsal time and, occasionally, a full class period. Each component addresses one or more competencies from the standards, and all were designed to help close the gap between my sixth grade band students’ backgrounds and what students at this level should know and be able to do according to the National Standards.
As much as possible, the components addressed material which appeared in the music being learned, or material which would likely appear in band literature at this level. Another priority was to maintain a high level of student performance involvement and provide plenty of teacher modeling and positive feedback. Assessments were designed to be varied in style and as context-specific as possible.
As a result of this project, I became more aware of my students’ strengths and growth areas and found ways in which to stretch the boundaries of my teaching style in band rehearsals. My students grew stronger in several areas and became excited about certain new concepts, such as improvising in front of their classmates. I found that it is possible to begin teaching toward the National Standards in sixth grade band and maintain the integrity of the performance setting.