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New Year, Better Me

Happy New Year to everyone viewing this post!

As I have been looking online, it seems like there is the phrase, "New Year, New Me" that is going around. I like the phrase, but as I see it more, I don't think that there is anything really wrong with the "old me". For this reason, I decided to make the post more about a "better me" rather than the "new me".

As my year slowly starts out, I am mentally preparing myself for my second semester of teaching and looking at some of the things that I have struggled with and working to make those better. One of those things is motivating the students to practice. One thing that I talk with one of my principals about was getting more students to take their instruments home and hopefully practice when they take their instrument home. As I talk with the other music teachers in the district, some of them find the same problem occurring even after many years of teaching. The biggest struggle for me is showing the students that if they only play when they are in class, they can only progress a small amount while they are in class. My hope this semester is to try something new with them.

At the end of last semester, one of my colleagues sent an article about practicing in regards to private students. The article entitled When students won't practice by Philip Johnston, talks about 18 different ways to experiment with private students. Many of these techniques are very practical in a private studio, but in the public education system, some of them are "less practical", but not impossible. The one that I found the most interesting was #16, which talks about making practicing a type of "quest". This makes playing and practicing more of a game, rather than a chore. This quarter/semester, I have decided to try designing a "quest" for my 5th and 6th graders to hopefully help them become more motivated to practice and get better. As I design this more and test it out, I will post about it and let you know how it is going!

In addition to adjusting some of my teaching habits, I have decided that I am going to push myself to play more music outside of school to continue to become a better musician. In this first semester of teaching, I have come to realize that I really miss playing a lot, and working on my percussion technique that I spent 4 years refining and polishing. While I received and Music Education degree, I would say I am just as much a performer as I am an educator. Once you have worked with teaching beginning music, you come to realize how nice it is to play "good" music rather than just focusing on hearing the 5th/6th graders play their instruments. For this reason, I am going to push myself to practice a little bit everyday, that way I can show my students what practice really does.

My professor Dr. Norman Weinberg taught me something very important during my recital preparation that I will forever remember and work on. Writing down goals (practice goals, weekly goals, semester goals, long and short term goals etc.) not only keeps you honest about what you are working on, but it keeps you on track for where you want to see yourself. The main way that I was able to push myself was by writing down what I needed to get done and check off that item once I finished it. Hopefully as I introduce this idea to my students, it helps to motive some of them.

Here's to a great year and continued growth as a musician, educator, and person!

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