My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

March 17, 2012

Orchestra practice mirrors literacy block - SOLC #17

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I was very late to community orchestra on Monday night.  I went to the auditorium and found a sign that directed me to the music classroom.  When I finally arrived, the orchestra was already running through the first movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony.  I quickly pulled out my violin, only to find two strings loose and the other two dreadfully out of tune.  I stayed in the hallway, trying to tune quickly and quietly.

I waited for a pause, then started to walk into the room.  I realized my seat was nearly impossible to get to without bothering many people, as the room was so crammed.  Our conductor is serious yet kind, but I could feel his eyes boring through my head as I tried to quickly and carefully get to my seat.

My stand partner smiled as I sat down, and we started playing the 2nd movement of the piece.  It was a bit of a rocky start, as this movement isn't as well-known as the first.  The conductor stopped.  He reminded us that, in this age of technology, there was no excuse for anyone in the room not to be familiar with the music in front of us.  Many recordings are available, and it was our job to be prepared when we sat down at rehearsal.  He wasn't pleased at our first attempt.

My mind instantly flashed to my developing readers.  How many times have they been the last one in the room, not prepared for class, trying to slide in without being seen?  How often have we told them, "You must practice reading when you're at home!"  How many times have they heard, "You should already know how to do this!"

I was thinking of how frustrated my conductor could be, on a weekly basis, with the variety of people in front of him.  Our ages range from 18 to 75, and we have varying levels of musical ability.  Some of the orchestra members are music teachers, some are full-time musicians, and the rest of us play as a hobby.  Does he become angry each week when we can't play the music at 100% perfection?  No.  He may express  frustration at times (especially when he's explained something and we don't try to fix it), but as a rule, he is an excellent instructor.  He's good at making jokes when there is tension, and when he wants a specific bowing technique to be used, he will name the technique (I don't know most of them!) and then he will demonstrate, giving specific feedback.

I wonder how may teachers could learn from a conductor, especially mine.


  1. I {heart} the comparison you made between reading teachers and conductors! So profound. So smart. So - yes, yes, yes! I loved the connection you made from your real life to our students and what does this mean for all teachers? To stop, to listen, to provide feedback, to conduct a community of learners at varying levels! Thank you for this slice!

  2. Such an interesting comparison between your conductor and teachers. It was an AHA moment for you and now you can use it with your students and sharing with your fellow teachers. We can teach in so many different ways and demonstrating the "how to" is essential to learning as well as the positive feedback. Thanks for sharing your AHA moment with us.

  3. What a great connection/reflection between your musical experiences and the life of a reader.

  4. I'm glad you sliced about this! The 2nd time was even better! Great connection!!!