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Author Topic: OSC and Homework: a question for him re: instrument practice
BandoCommando
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This is a question for Mr. Card, in particular, and his response would be most appreciated. However, I would also welcome the opinion of Hatrack members in general.

Mr. Card has written three articles (to my memory) about homework, linked below.

Homework Part 1 (Worldwatch)

Homework Part 2 (Worldwatch)

Uncle Orson Reviews Homework

In the articles, Mr. Card lays down some expectations for homework, especially the 7 or so rules listed in Homework Part 2. I find these guidelines to be very much reasonable, but I do have a specific question.

I'm a teacher. Specifically, I teach band. One of the largest components of the band grade is the practice log that each student is required to complete and turn in every week. Students are to record which days they practiced, for how many minutes, and specifically what music/exercises they worked on. Rather than assign a total number of minutes practiced per week, like many directors do, I ask that each student practice 25 minutes a day for at least 5 days every week. Practicing less than 25 minutes (or fewer than five days) loses points.

(20 minutes instead of 25 on one day would lose 5%, practicing only 4 days loses 20%, and so on. Practicing less than 10 minutes is not worthwhile and earns nothing.)

Practicing MORE doesn't earn extra credit, or offset days in which a student doesn't practice.

My question is: do you think that this is a reasonable amount of required practice time for students in middle school?

My rationalizations:
-25 minutes is about the right amount of time necessary to reinforce skills taught in class. It's a dose long enough that it requires focus, allows students to break their time up into fundamentals, music practice, then playing whatever they want at the end.
-longer practice with fewer sessions is really quite similar to somebody who works out twice a week for long periods then sits around doing nothing the rest of the week; not as effective in terms of building and honing muscles.
-students get to choose which 2 days they have "off" from practicing. Factors behind the decision could be anything from whim to really being unable to practice due to too many other things going on.
-there are others, but I think this is good to go on for now. I can answer questions later on if you have any.

You see, I was just approached by my principal, who got an email from a concerned parent. The parent expressed that her children at my school always have over an hour of homework, sometimes up to 4 hours a night, not to mention the lengthy and involved projects over the weekend. The email was very reasonably worded, and the parent mentioned which assignments she recognized as valuable. She also mentioned the 25 minutes of nightly required practice for band, but didn't say either way whether or not she thought this reasonable.

Anyway, my principal mentioned to me that oft-quoted research stating that kids should have 10 minutes of homework per grade level, and that these 8th grade kids should do 80 minutes of homework a night. She said that it may be unreasonable to have 1/3 of their homework allotment come from band.

Personally, I think having kids practice less than 25 minutes is going to have a profound impact on how my ensembles improve (or don't, rather) on a day-to-day basis. I also think that it is the other teachers, perhaps, who are assigning MORE than 80 minutes of homework/day just by themselves.

Anyway, your input is appreciated.

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scifibum
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I think requiring that much practice is appropriate for students taking private music lessons, but not for students in a group band class.

1. These kids are mostly just fulfilling a requirement and don't want to become good musicians. Exposure to music and what it would take to become "good" can happen during class time.

2. Most students probably lie on their logs, so anything you've concluded about the effect of this requirement is likely to be wrong.

Probably not exactly what you wanted, just my opinion.

(6 years of band, averaging probably 30 min or less of at-home practice per week. First chair trumpet player for several of those years.)

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BandoCommando
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With the exception of kids compelled to be in band by their parents, most kids at my school made the choice to be in band over a wide selection of attractive elective options, including drama, art, shop, ceramics, computers, foreign language, etc.

Especially given that it's a volunteer group, I get the impression that the kids would prefer being good musicians to the alternative. Though very few will go on in music as a career, I'm aware.

While many kids lie (with complicity from their parents who signed the log), most do not do more than exaggerate how much they played. Having taught for a while without having a grade implcation for logged practice, I have experienced a dramatic difference with the alternative. Students actually get (gasp) better!! between rehearsals!!!

Besides, when a student performs a play test, I can usually tell whether they have practiced what they say they did...

Regarding your first chair status, some students manage to be very good players without significant practice. The rest of us envy people like you. Then again, being first chair could also be dependent upon the relative incompetence of the other players more than on any particular skill of the first chair player...

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Orson Scott Card
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What is the goal?

To take a certain number of hours out of a child's life?

To get the whole band up to a level where they sound good together?

To get every child to a good level of proficiency?

To help every child make significant progress during the year?

To create a numerical system of grading that doesn't require you to adapt to the individual student so you can have the illusion of 'fairness'?

Some kids are motivated already to excel at their instrument. You don't have to make them keep a log of their practice, and you don't have to do all that math. They master the music and you can count on them. So such a system is pointless with them - indeed, it's offensive. It means that when they practice, it's not for love of the instrument or pride in their achievement, it's all about obeying you. Kids who MIGHT have practiced till they achieved mastery of their part will now practice only the minimum you set for them, and resent even that amount of time.

then there are the kids who are lazy but talented. It's enough for them to be best - they don't have to be good. That was me in band - as long as I was first chair and made the state band and didn't make ANY mistakes in performance, I was fine. And since I could do this with almost no practice at all (I could usually sight-read everything and in-class practice allowed me to nail it), I would have looked at your practice schedule and either dropped out of band (costing you either your first-chair tuba or your first chair french horn, depending on the year) or simply lied on my practice form - and you would never have known the difference.

Then you have the kids who have to fulfil assignments. It's about obedience. They're not happy if they don't fulfil all assignments. They are your saddest victims, because you are depriving them of the discretion to have weeks in which they don't practice at all because they have their part mastered, but you still make them mindlessly go over and over and over it twenty-five minutes a day. If they don't end up hating music, it's a miracle.

And then there are the kids who need that practice, and benefit from it. But they're still doing it out of obedience and fear of penalty, instead of out of a sense of wanting to PLAY THEIR INSTRUMENT WELL.

Then there are the kids who don't practice, don't learn their part, and lie about it on their practice log. What are you going to do then? Spy on them? Try to get their parents to sign off on their log? Then you're just getting them to lie to their parents about one more thing.

And then there are the kids who don't care, don't do it, admit they didn't do it, and take the lower grade. What did you achieve with them?

The whole problem here is that you're trying to FORCE them; if they comply, it feels like YOU won - not like they achieved something. Any success they have now belongs to you.

You are, in short, doing exactly what English teachers are doing when they force students to write little reports or do underlining or note-taking EVERY day and then turn in their log. They - and you - are taking all the joy and all the achievement out of it. You have unilaterally made it into a war.

WHY should I, as an 8th grader, first chair tuba in the state, practice one SECOND more than what I find necessary to meet all your reasonable performance expectations? If I can play the part on a cold sight-reading, am perfectly in pitch and rhythm, then what business is it of yours whether I practice thirty minutes or none?

And don't say that the extra practice will make me "even better." It would only make me think of you, my bandleader, as my enemy, and take all the joy out of my time with my instrument.

You can urge them to practice. You can point out that a section doesn't sound good, and then isolate which instruments are doing it wrong (or haven't found the pitch) and then make them practice it in class just often enough to make it clear that if they had practiced at ALL, they'd have made a lot more progress. Etc. HOMEWORK does not have to be assigned if you motivate them to desire excellence. (there's also that wonderful peer pressure of the collective groan of the whole band when somebody who hasn't practiced blows a key passage.)

Is it your music, or their music? It'll never be their music, if you take away the responsibility and the joy.

So, in short, i think there is NO rule of thumb that is fair or right for all students. And your system sounds particularly loathsome to me.

don't tell me that not everybody is as talented as I was. Of course not. But everybody had SOME talent or desire or they wouldn't be there. this isn't like math classes where everybody HAS to be there whether they have any talent or interest or not. Give them credit for having the desire. Let them work out for themselves just how good they want to be, and:

Base your grade on their PERFORMANCE,
not on their OBEDIENCE.

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BandoCommando
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Wow! I can say that I did not expect such a prompt or lengthy response. Thank you for taking the time to converse with me.

I hope that this discussion can continue. I hope that I can reply to some of your statements in a convincing manner, with the goal of

a) perhaps convincing you that at least some of my reasoning is sound and based on years of my own experience as a teacher and on research of music educators with far more experience than my own, and

b) gaining constructive feedback that will help me to shape my educational model to allow me to reach more students.

Having read your writings for much of my life, I am well aware of your considerable skill with words and my efforts at debate will likely appear flimsy in comparison. Nevertheless, I hope that your answers perhaps help temper my reasoning and perhaps find suitable modifications for me to make.

You ask me first, “what is the goal?” of the practice logs, then listed several answers. I would like to respond to each in turn.

1.“To take a certain number of hours out of a child’s life?”

This is not the main intent, no. I’m not sure how to answer this one, other than that. Certainly practice does take time away from a child that might otherwise been spent on other pursuits, but in the case of band, it is a voluntary commitment. One might as well say that choosing to read a book takes hours from a child’s life, or that playing a sport and attending practice for sports takes hours from a child’s life.

2.“To get the whole band up to a level where they sound good together?”

This is one aspect of the requirement for practice, but the requirement for practice is only one component of the curriculum and grade. (More on this later.)

3.“To get every child to a good level of proficiency?”

Again, partially true. More accurately, what students are asked to play for their competencies (read: play tests) is designed to evaluate their level of proficiency. Presumably, the practice would help some students to achieve this proficiency, though, as we both know, students exist all along the spectrum. At one end, there are those who will achieve proficiency without practice, and on the other, those who will not achieve the proficiency even with the practice.

4.“To help every child make significant progress during the year?”

See above.

5.“To create a numerical system of grading that doesn’t require you to adapt to the individual student so you can have the illusion of ‘fairness’?”

Part of the reason for the grading of practice logs is indeed for a numerical system. It allows for a portion of the grade to come from something other than a relatively subjective rating of a student’s performance. Were the grade to be based entirely on student’s performance, I would have parents approaching me with the question, “Why is my son/daughter not getting an A?” and my only response would be “They weren’t good enough at the music.” Now, I would say that the illusion of fairness is not for my benefit. It is for those who rely on numbers to evaluate performance (an increasing blight in the world of education today, especially in our test-crazed country).

I would like to add a couple reasons of my own.

6. Most students who have never played an instrument before do not pick up the instrument and suddenly play well. Such a gift is incredible when it happens, but exceedingly rare. To play an instrument well requires the training of muscle groups, just as one might need to train to be a successful athlete. Only in music, the muscle groups are small and subtle; we exercise the numerous muscles in our mouth, tongue, and fingers. We build up connections in our brain relating to pitch, tone, and harmony. At the very beginning of a young musician’s career, these muscles have very little control and the pathways in the brain are not often developed (as a sad result of the loss of song and music as a part of our daily society – specifically that society now tends to consume music rather than partake in it). As with any athletic training, consistent, regular efforts are needed to develop skill.

7.Good practice habits are indeed beneficial to the continued growth of an individual’s skill. I hope to teach students what is expected in a practice session and how to overcome difficulties in the music when working on it at home. It’s a little like ‘eating your veggies.’ It’s good for the kid, they need to eat them to be healthy, and they *want* to be healthy, but they’d rather eat something else. The analogy is weak, I know, but it’s the best I could come up with for now. I will talk more about why the grade is used as the means of getting kids to practice.

Now allow me to cover the different types of students you mentioned. Because, as a matter of fact, I work VERY hard to differentiate my instruction for the wide variety of students I have in my classes.

quote:
Some kids are motivated already to excel at their instrument. You don't have to make them keep a log of their practice, and you don't have to do all that math. They master the music and you can count on them. So such a system is pointless with them - indeed, it's offensive. It means that when they practice, it's not for love of the instrument or pride in their achievement, it's all about obeying you. Kids who MIGHT have practiced till they achieved mastery of their part will now practice only the minimum you set for them, and resent even that amount of time.
I love these kids. They practice already, then they write it down on the log, because I really don’t make them write all that much. In fact, these motivated kids are proud of the amount that the practice, are proud of how much they have improved, and want me to know that they have practiced. If a student finds it offensive, it’s no more or less offensive to them than the rest of the crud they have to put up with in public school. Now, I know that this last statement in particular is NOT a ringing endorsement for my own system.

As for practicing only the minimum amount I set for them? No. I have many, MANY kids who take the musical challenges I give them and work their rear ends off, and then some to master this music. Take, for example, this second-year bassoon player who proudly showed off his somewhat torn up thumb that got a little mangled from practicing for about 12 hours over the weekend. I was aghast! That was too much! And he’s already first chair, it’s not like he needed to practice that much to beat everyone else! He practiced for that long because he loves to play his bassoon. He loves to make music. He is always asking for more solo bassoon music to play (not stuff we perform in concerts, just stuff for fun), and seeking these new challenges. He is also not alone. Judging by the number of kids who come in before school to ‘jam’ with each other and those that stay after and hang out in the band room to talk about and listen to music, many kids do indeed love to be there and pursue music for their own edification, pride, and sense of achievement, not out of obedience. Then again, it’s perfectly possible that I’m deluding myself. [Smile]

quote:
then there are the kids who are lazy but talented. It's enough for them to be best - they don't have to be good. That was me in band - as long as I was first chair and made the state band and didn't make ANY mistakes in performance, I was fine. And since I could do this with almost no practice at all (I could usually sight-read everything and in-class practice allowed me to nail it), I would have looked at your practice schedule and either dropped out of band (costing you either your first-chair tuba or your first chair french horn, depending on the year) or simply lied on my practice form - and you would never have known the difference.
I’m sure there are those that exaggerate or lie on the form, and there is indeed no way for me to know for sure, as long as those kids continue to master what I give for them to play. But your list of items that made you “fine” – first chair, state band, no mistakes in performance – are perhaps achieved differently in the ensembles I teach. First chair is based on a student’s performance in a play test. This means that a first chair student sometimes is one who doesn’t practice up to spec. This is rare in my ensembles.

And I should let you know, too, that my play tests are “blind”. The students go into a practice room during class and record their test into a digital recorder. The only identifier is a number, spoken by the test proctor, and I don’t get the list of who was what number until AFTER chairs and grades are assigned.

quote:
Then you have the kids who have to fulfil assignments. It's about obedience. They're not happy if they don't fulfil all assignments. They are your saddest victims, because you are depriving them of the discretion to have weeks in which they don't practice at all because they have their part mastered, but you still make them mindlessly go over and over and over it twenty-five minutes a day. If they don't end up hating music, it's a miracle.
Well, herein we find a common misapprehension. I do not ask my students to practice 25 minutes day after day the SAME music. That, indeed, would very much resemble the sick and twisted math teachers who made students drill endlessly on math problems that they already understand! On the contrary, students are given music that we perform for a concert, and if they have that satisfactorily mastered, they don’t even have to bring it home! They instead are encouraged to find music that THEY want to play. Music from musicals, movies, TV shows, etc. seem to be rather popular. Other students pursue ‘serious classical or Baroque literature like Mozart and Bach, respectively. I also attempt to keep the students well outfit with musical exercises that are far above the heads of the average student, letting them know that this is on the horizon. If they have mastered our performance music, there is always something else to work on.

All that being said, I recognize your argument that I am withholding from these students the discretion to have weeks in which they choose to not play. However, would you allow a child who didn’t wish to get physical activity the discretion to sit around doing nothing? Or allow a child to not eat a balanced, healthy diet? I’m not sure that students at this age necessarily have the ability to make these discretionary choices on their own. Some do, in which case they may choose not to practice and care little for the grade. Others need some kind of encouragement to practice. (I will address further on alternatives to grade-based coercion. There, in fact, is where I most seek the input from others!!)

quote:
And then there are the kids who need that practice, and benefit from it. But they're still doing it out of obedience and fear of penalty, instead of out of a sense of wanting to PLAY THEIR INSTRUMENT WELL.
This statement is not necessarily true, and in fact, I think rarely applies. Though perhaps it is true in more cases than I’d like to admit. Nevertheless, while fear and penalty may play some role in the practice log, I think that fear and penalty would play an even LARGER role if their grade relied on their performance.

quote:
And then there are the kids who don't care, don't do it, admit they didn't do it, and take the lower grade. What did you achieve with them?
These kids obviously don’t wish to participate in band. I would prefer (as would they) that they find an elective course that is better suited to their interests. Then they are no longer miserable, and perhaps will find an activity that engages them in learning.

quote:
The whole problem here is that you're trying to FORCE them
Yes. I am trying to force them to practice their instrument. I am willing to concede that there are better ways out there to get them to practice, but practice (to some degree or another) they must! The grade based coercion is only one method by which practice is encouraged. More often, I use the very methods you yourself have already advocated, but find them insufficient to reach the widest base of students.

quote:
You are, in short, doing exactly what English teachers are doing when they force students to write little reports or do underlining or note-taking EVERY day and then turn in their log. They - and you - are taking all the joy and all the achievement out of it.
I think it overstatement to say that I take all the joy out of music by making them turn in practice logs. I happen to see plenty of smiling faces and happy attitudes on a daily basis. I’m convinced that they have this sense of accomplishment at least partially due to the benefits of practice. Some would have seen this benefit without my requirement, but at least some have been ‘converted’ so-to-speak to see the value of regular practice and the impact it has on their playing.

quote:
WHY should I, as an 8th grader, first chair tuba in the state, practice one SECOND more than what I find necessary to meet all your reasonable performance expectations? If I can play the part on a cold sight-reading, am perfectly in pitch and rhythm, then what business is it of yours whether I practice thirty minutes or none?
It is none of my business and I have little to respond to in this statement. It is for this kind of student that an alternative grading method is needed, however rare it is that students are both this musically talented and uninterested in practicing the amount I ask for. Far more often, the ones who are this talented hunger for practice anyway, and fill out the log as just one more thing on their checklist.

quote:
And don't say that the extra practice will make me "even better." It would only make me think of you, my bandleader, as my enemy, and take all the joy out of my time with my instrument.
Given my earlier explanation of offering higher level music up to those star students as a further challenge, is it conceivable that many of these star students would relish the challenge and continue to practice the time I request? I honestly wouldn’t require the 25 minutes if I didn’t continue to provide meaningful challenges to the level of the individual student! Usually, when a student regards me as their enemy, it is because I do not let them get away with disrupting rehearsal and turning the band room into their play ground!

quote:
You can urge them to practice. You can point out that a section doesn't sound good, and then isolate which instruments are doing it wrong (or haven't found the pitch) and then make them practice it in class just often enough to make it clear that if they had practiced at ALL, they'd have made a lot more progress. Etc. HOMEWORK does not have to be assigned if you motivate them to desire excellence. (there's also that wonderful peer pressure of the collective groan of the whole band when somebody who hasn't practiced blows a key passage.)
I do indeed point out those sections that don’t sound good -- and trust me, in middle school, there are lots of them! I do isolate these parts and rehearse them in class. But instead of just fixing it in class, I also ask students to observe what I had the students do to fix problems. Slow it down. Isolate that measure or those notes. Play it backwards. Sing it. Buzz it on the mouthpiece. And so on. I want the students to know how to fix problems in their own music, and I use the class to teach them how to troubleshoot. This means that, when a student is practicing their own solo literature (or a troublesome phrase in our concert music) at home during their practice time, when they run into a problem, they have an arsenal of skills available about how to deal with it. To me, this is like the old adage “give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, he eats for life.” If I spend class troubleshooting the sections of music for them, they learn to perform a piece at a concert. If I teach them how to practice and troubleshoot, then encourage them (yes, forcibly, through grade coercion) to play at home music other than that which is studied in class, they will be able to eventually play anything they wish to.

This empowerment, ideally, makes the music more theirs than it ever would be if they only ever played their instrument during class.
Having taught for several years without using practice logs, I can say emphatically that encouraging students to practice and relying on peer pressure and a desire for excellence works for about the top 15% of students. I reach far fewer students in this one-dimensional approach than I do by combining it with grade-based incentives.

Now, finally, we come to the matter of grade-based coercion.

I hate grades. I wish I didn’t have to give them. I wish that our educational system didn’t suck the desire for knowledge and growth out of students by the time they are in the 6th grade. Too often, the focus becomes on earning the grade, not on mastering the material and expanding one’s horizons and experiences. If I could get away with it, I would just teach the music!

Unfortunately, I’m operating inside of a system that expects me to assign grades, and have a clearly defined, dumb-as-a-thumb means of granting that grade.

So. How do I grade?

20% (roughly) comes from the practice logs
30% comes from passing playing competencies (here is where I grade based on their performance, NOT their obedience)
10% comes from the completion of in-class assignments and/or tests related to music theory, history, etc.
20% or so comes from participation and citizenship.
20% comes from concert attendance. I wish this part weren’t necessary, but the sad fact is that there are some parents out there so uninterested in their child’s musical pursuits that they wouldn’t so much as drive them to the concert, drop them off, and pick them up afterwards if it weren’t for the fact that the kid’s grade would suffer. My wife, also a band director, actually had a parent who STILL didn’t care.

Also, I offer multitudes of opportunities for extra credit. Small amounts can be earned for helping out around the band room. Larger amounts can be earned for writing reviews of live musical performances (thereby encouraging students to attend local music, think critically, and use music-related vocabulary when doing so). Still larger amounts can be earned for participating in music outside of school, either through private lessons, other youth ensembles, or by playing at church, etc.

Thus it is perfectly possible for a student to NEVER practice, NEVER turn in a log, and, assuming all other work, competencies, performances, and attitude were sufficient get an “A” with a little extra credit work. Most students who don’t practice, though, usually don’t pass the competencies…

I hope that my explanation makes my system at least a little more palatable. Either way, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and stretching my thinking on the subject a little more. Of particular use would be a variety of methods I might consider for use in encouraging (rather than coercing) practice.

Thank you again for reading and responding to my post. Your opinion matters to me, Mr. Card, whether or not we ultimately agree.

Honestly, I have tried to use your Homework editorials as guidelines in the development of my curriculum. I don't require practice over vacations or holidays; if a child is sick or absent due to family reasons they record THAT on their log instead of practice. My playtests don't happen on Mondays or after vacations. The material I assign for practice is relevant to each student since they ought to be working at their pace (but meeting the competencies set forth in play tests, at a minimum), practicing doesn't involve parents, and excessive repetition is kept to a minimum, since a child will move on to what they WANT to play, rather than playing the same stuff ad nauseum.

Perhaps I have missed a large point of what you were trying to say. In which case, again, your input is desired and welcome.

Yours,

B.C.

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TomDavidson
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It sounds to me, honestly, like you didn't particularly need OSC's input on this, since you knew he'd disagree with your approach and also had a set of reasons lined up to argue against his disagreement.

That said, I -- as a former first cello and All-State orchestra and choir member, back in the day, and a decent pianist nowadays -- think he's got the right of it.

25 minutes a day is excessive, yes. But it's also unnecessary. Your attempt to come up with something "objective" to avoid having to tell parents the truth is only going to force their children into either dishonesty or resentment of the material.

Interestingly, I think you acknowledge this by making the practice material relatively unimportant to the final grade. I would observe that if you're going to do this, you're also sending this implicit message to the students: this is a lot of work for very little reward. Smart students will, quite simply, realize that filling out the log is not in their best interest.

(BTW: 20% comes from "citizenship?" What does that mean?)

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All4Nothing
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Not that I have a whole lot of knowledge in the subject of playing music, but I have a suggestion I think may come in handy.

Have you ever thought of doing a reward system based more on significant improvement or maintaining a high level of proficiency such as music related/non-related field trips every semester or after school pizza party/jam sessions?

I think the highly skilled would just maintain it and get these rewards. Giving the less skilled but hard working students more time to learn from the highly skilled (especially in the pizza party/jam session scenerio) while also giving the uninterested another reason to push themselves to higher levels.

It could just be I'm not thinking this out enough but I think it would achieve both the goals you've set for yourself, the goals you've set for your students, and the goals they've set for themselves. With less pressure from you, or their parents.

Hope that's as helpful as it's sounding to me [Smile]

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Farmgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Orson Scott Card:


Base your grade on their PERFORMANCE,
not on their OBEDIENCE.

I totally agree with this.

If they know their grade is based on performance, then if they want a good grade, they will practice in their own way to get to the level to get that grade.

I was in band all through secondary school and some in college. I never had required "practice" times set by band instructors. Now my family did have set practice times for me when I was pre-8th grade level. To develop discipline, I believe.

But I was one who normally, on the days I did practice, would have done it for more than 30 minutes. But I was sporadic -- two hours one night, then maybe not again for three days. But I performed well and was first chair.

I think if I had the chart (just imagining, with my personality) I would have done only exactly what was required, even fudged a little. Instead, on my own, I probably practiced more over the course of time without having been told to keep track of it.

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Cyn
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


(BTW: 20% comes from "citizenship?" What does that mean?)

From what I remember "citizenship" was a grade based on behavior in class.
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El JT de Spang
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BC, you sound like a very good band teacher/director (I don't know the proper title, so I'm not trying to slight you or anything).

But, if 8th grade JT were in your class, he would practice however much he needed to to master the performance pieces and lie on the logs.

On one hand, I see where you're coming from, because I think 25 minutes a day is a reasonable time to practice an instrument. My friends who took piano outside of school (or violin, cello, or whatever) all had about that much practice time a day or more.

But I think 25 minutes a day on homework for any one subject is excessive.

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BandoCommando
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Thanks for your comments everyone.

Tom: I didn't know what OSC would say, and his response came as a surprise to me, both in content and vociferousness (is that word?). That I had responses to his objections formulated in my mind speaks more, perhaps, to the fact that I have given thought to my assessment system. Whether that thought is misguided or not is up for judgement. [Smile]

Citizenship/Participation/Preparedness: Is the student coming to rehearsal will everything they need (instrument, reed, valve oil, pencil, good attitude, focus)? The default grade is 100%, and students only lose points when it becomes clear that they weren't prepared (by neglecting to bring the necessary materials), or were being a particular nuisance in rehearsal.

JT: your kind words are appreciated, and your input is valuable. Thank you. (OSC's response almost has me believing that I'm a terrible human being and deserving of the death penalty! But I do want this feedback as it will help to shape and strengthen my curricular strategies.)

You say that 25 minutes of practice seems reasonable, but that it's too much for homework in one given subject. I tend to agree. I feel justified in the increased time commitment for band as a subject since we exist in a state of being both a part of the school curriculum and also extra-curricular. I've heard this described as Co-Curricular in the distant past.

When a student signs up for any other extra-curricular activity, time is expected of them, but since this extra-curricular activity is ALSO a curricular class, a grade is attached to one's participation therein.

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scifibum
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quote:
20% comes from concert attendance. I wish this part weren’t necessary, but the sad fact is that there are some parents out there so uninterested in their child’s musical pursuits that they wouldn’t so much as drive them to the concert, drop them off, and pick them up afterwards if it weren’t for the fact that the kid’s grade would suffer. My wife, also a band director, actually had a parent who STILL didn’t care.
Or, you know, they have a million other priorities and band concerts aren't very high on the list for one reason or another. Maybe they have to work in the evenings and taking band wasn't their idea. Stuff like that.

Honestly, BandoCommando, I'm completely unconvinced that it's somehow necessary for kids to practice that much in order for the class to be worthwhile. I think at middle school age, the kids can get plenty of musical education during class time only, and those who want to become good at their instrument can practice as much as they want to in order to help them reach their goals.

I think you'd give these kids their money's worth by rehearsing and drilling during class time only. They'd get to know how to read music, the basic mechanics of their instruments, and become informed enough to decide whether they have real interest in becoming proficient. They'd learn how the band has to work together and follow direction. The ONLY thing I can figure out that they'd lack from 2+ hours of at home practice a week is extra proficiency (for some), and I don't see that as a necessary outcome of the class. It's nice to have and a natural result for the kids who want it, but I don't think it justifies the time requirement.

Would a class full of kids who learned all about music and bands and how to play their instruments, but didn't get very good at playing, be an unacceptable result? It might rule out concerts, I guess: which simplifies your grading algorithm. [Wink]

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scifibum
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In response to your latest post, BC, how about the idea of a curricular band class and those kids have the option for signing up for extracurricular activity which involves one extra after-school rehearsal a week, the understanding that extra practice is expected, and those are the kids who end up in concerts? In high school I'd lean more to one "co-curricular" group, but in middle school I think most kids should have the option to keep it mostly within class time.
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T:man
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25 minutes of homework is excessive? Then what is 4 hours for one class?
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by OSC
then there are the kids who are lazy but talented. It's enough for them to be best - they don't have to be good. That was me in band - as long as I was first chair and made the state band and didn't make ANY mistakes in performance, I was fine. And since I could do this with almost no practice at all (I could usually sight-read everything and in-class practice allowed me to nail it), I would have looked at your practice schedule and either dropped out of band (costing you either your first-chair tuba or your first chair french horn, depending on the year) or simply lied on my practice form - and you would never have known the difference.

This was pretty much me in school. I rarely ever practices at home because the practice in class was always good enough to make me proficient. When I was in high school I was beat out by a kid who was clearly naturally better than me for first chair tenor sax. It didn't bother me. His dad was a jazz musician, his uncle was my junior high band teacher, and he was just good in a way that I knew I wasn't, so I was content with second chair. I loved band, but personal proficiency and being a good solo artist never really mattered much because being a part of the GROUP was the most fun. To this day I think I miss band more than any other single thing in school.

I agree with pretty much every other single thing you said too, and I think you can apply it to a lot of other subjects other than band.

What'd you play? For some reason I always thought you were a choir geek, not a band geek. [Smile]

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scholarette
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I would actually offer a more confusing grading scale. I would let the kids pick either practice logs with a small amount of performance OR just performance. That way the kids that work hard but suck can still do good and the naturally skilled kids are also happy.
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steven
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" would actually offer a more confusing grading scale. I would let the kids pick either practice logs with a small amount of performance OR just performance. That way the kids that work hard but suck can still do good and the naturally skilled kids are also happy."

That sounds good to me...not to pressure Bando or anything. I always felt bad for the kids who naturally weren't so great at their instruments, but tried hard. I was automatically good.

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All4Nothing
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I'm starting to feel as if I don't even exist in this forum and I might as well just read instead of contribute.
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Orincoro
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I'm utterly shocked that the gist of OSC's reply to Bando was "I am, and always was, Awesome."


Actually, I was just being facetious back there, but I really was a little surprised at the nakedness of the boast.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by All4Nothing:
I'm starting to feel as if I don't even exist in this forum and I might as well just read instead of contribute.

1. Contribute a few more than 24 posts and tell me if you are always ignored.

2. Don't whine if people seem to be ignoring you- a lot of people read and don't respond.

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TheBlueShadow
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From experience I know that all I would have done is lie on the practice logs. Not fudge them, just completely lie and have my mother sign off on them with the full knowledge that I didn't practice this much if at all.

There are three types of successful band students in middle school. Those who already know how to play from private lessons and are ahead, those with natural skill, and those who have to practice to be on this higher level. The first group will always be better until their peers catch up to where they are, the second group won't need to practice that much to maintain basic skills, and the third group will practice whether or not it's an assignment because they want to be better and the competition fuels their motivation.

Then there are kids that just seem to have no talent and work very hard for little result. They'll practice a lot whether or not you make them. Finally, there are those who don't care and won't practice no matter what. In many cases these are the kids being forced into band by someone and don't want to be there.

If you want to make outside of class practice a grade and if you consider your class a co-curricular that can be compared to after school activities like sports then you should make it an extra-curricular by having after school rehearsals. Once a week, twice a week, or everyday before or after school, full rehearsals or sectionals.

The unfortunate part of that is the time commitment it takes for you.

I loved music and I still love playing, but I never planned to be a successful musician. It was something I did to have fun on my own and with friends. There are a lot of ways to hide from band homework. You can't lie about not having math homework but you can naturally have little skill on a musical instrument.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by T:man:
25 minutes of homework is excessive? Then what is 4 hours for one class?

Evidence of procrastination?
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I'm utterly shocked that the gist of OSC's reply to Bando was "I am, and always was, Awesome."


Actually, I was just being facetious back there, but I really was a little surprised at the nakedness of the boast.

Yes, it looks like Bando has lost the vote of the musically elite. Or at least certain kinds of musical elites. Because lots of musicians in ensembles would appreciate that their ensemble sounds better when everyone is strongly encouraged to regularly practice.
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Sala
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I loved band. I wasn't very good . . . I never made it past sixth chair (out of 10). But I worked hard at it. And was very compliant. If my teacher had required a 25 minute practice five days out of seven, I would have done it. But I did it close to that anyway without the requirement. The difference is, if I needed to take a week off, I did, without any worries or repercussions. If I wanted to practice for an hour one day and none for the next two or three, I did it. Without those worries. But with the required schedule, there would have been worries and I probably would have dropped out before ever making it to high school band. And that would have been a terrible loss for me. So requiring it as you do with all of the inherent math involved on your part, I think is a mistake.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I'm utterly shocked that the gist of OSC's reply to Bando was "I am, and always was, Awesome."

Actually, I was just being facetious back there, but I really was a little surprised at the nakedness of the boast.

Yes, it looks like Bando has lost the vote of the musically elite. Or at least certain kinds of musical elites. Because lots of musicians in ensembles would appreciate that their ensemble sounds better when everyone is strongly encouraged to regularly practice.
Yeah, that's the weird thing. OSC has called me a musical elitist, which I guess I kind of am, except for the part where I want everyone to be more into music, and know more than me.

But it's weird for OSC to come on and essentially say: "if you're as good as me, the rules don't apply, and in fact they hurt more than they help." What kind of perspective can he offer if he himself has no sense of what that 25 minutes might do for someone that isn't him?

I can only say that I know the difference between when I've practiced and when I haven't, and that practicing at an instrument is a key area of intellectual development for musicians of all kinds. I'm just kind of put in a funk by what basically amounts to a defeatist kind of pessimism, ie: "there's no way mandatory practice will ever work for any reason, essentially because education is too corrupt and you are probably too stupid to find ways to motivate your students within the goals you have set for them, so don't try."

That's what I felt when I read OSC's thoughts on this, and a little part of me died. I sometimes have the mental image of one of my music teachers standing in a hallway with an armful of lesson materials and an earnest expression on his/her face, and someone spitting in it.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Because lots of musicians in ensembles would appreciate that their ensemble sounds better when everyone is strongly encouraged to regularly practice.
I dispute that requiring something of someone is equivalent to "strongly encouraging" it. In fact, numerous studies show that it's the opposite: if you require someone to do something they enjoy, they will stop enjoying it and will actually do less of it.
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Orincoro
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I agree actually. The work shouldn't be "required" per se, but it should be encouraged through clearly expressed goals. Half of my instrumental training in college was my teacher going through ways that I could teach myself, when at home, and how I should spend my time while playing. By setting up the goals, he showed me how much I needed to work to meet them. Is it going to work out perfectly? No, but not everything is what we do for ourselves, unfortunately- sometimes we need to be pushed. It's just knowing what kind of a push, and how hard, that a teacher needs to work hard at.
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All4Nothing
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by All4Nothing:
I'm starting to feel as if I don't even exist in this forum and I might as well just read instead of contribute.

1. Contribute a few more than 24 posts and tell me if you are always ignored.

2. Don't whine if people seem to be ignoring you- a lot of people read and don't respond.

Aha! My shameless bid for attention by whining has worked! I am much more content now! I will now contribute exactly 3 more posts, therefore using the proper tactic to get noticed. LoL...I'm just messing around. I was all bummed out last night, and this post really should've stayed in my head. Thanks for the reality check Orincoro. [Smile]
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dkw
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I'm quite sure I would have done better in Jr. High band if we'd been required to keep practice logs. I'm a terrible procrastinator, but wasn't skilled enough to do well without daily practice. I'd put it off and tell myself I'd practice more the next day to make up for it, but it never worked out that way.

Having to turn in a practice log would likely have been the extra motivation I needed to actually practice. And there is no way I would have ever lied on a log. Ever. So Bando's method would have worked well for me.

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All4Nothing
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I couldn't stand music class as I was growing up, but I loved to write song lyrics. These days, I'm trying to learn guitar on my own and wish I had a push from a music teacher.

I guess it really depends on the child. I'm an adult now so my ambitions are devided by how much time I have between work and play. Unfortunately as a child I didn't realize that I had so much excess time in comparison to adult life. So I really don't see being pushed along by teachers as such a bad thing these days. Of course, once again it'd completely depend on whether the child in question was planning on pursuing music as a career or just using it as an easy elective.

Cause in my opinion school should really be preparing children to understand and be ready to obtain their future goals. It's a really hard balance, and I don't think the one size fits all approach works as well as anyone would like.

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I'm utterly shocked that the gist of OSC's reply to Bando was "I am, and always was, Awesome."


Actually, I was just being facetious back there, but I really was a little surprised at the nakedness of the boast.

I didn't get that at all out of the post.
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Catseye1979
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I never took Band. Most likely in my case I would've picked my grade the first day of class after seeing what was required for what grade, as I did in all my classes. Band, I most likely would have decided to get a B and only if my grade dropped below that would I bother with the logs.

For me Homework was nothing more the makeup work for when my grade dropped lower then I planned it to be.

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Liz B
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I agree with JT and others--I think you sound like a good teacher, and a thoughtful one. It can be so hard to hear critiques and criticism of our grading practices, and it can be even harder to change what we do to improve our practice. After all, every single moment most teachers I know are trying to do the best we can for our students, and if we have to change something huge, then it feels like we were doing a bad job before. Don't let that keep you from changing--and I commend you for being willing to rethink your policies.

I have a few thoughts for you.

Twenty percent for homework, no matter how worthwhile, is very, very high. Too high.

A grade should measure the extent to which a student masters the standard being taught. What standard are the practice logs measuring? It seems to me that if a student practices, he or she would perform better on the anonymous tests you described. But if the standard is the test (that is, in order to meet the minimum bassoon requirement a student should be able to play a certain passage with no errors, or whatever), and a student can meet that standard without practicing, then, well, the student met the standard and should get an A (or whatever symbol means mastery in the class).

In the other case--a student who practices or at least turns in the log and still can't play the passage--is it right for that student to get a grade that indicates mastery when the standard hasn't been mastered, just because he worked hard?

Now, in the case of band (most subjects, actually, but particularly skill-based subjects as opposed to content-based), I think it's perfectly appropriate to have the grade based on individual progress as well as on mastery of objective standards. Even in this case, though, the practice logs don't indicate anything about individual progress. The proof is in the improved performance, not the amount of time spent. (Although the amount of time spent will probably result in improvement, depending on the quality of the practice.)

The essential question is this: What are the standards of your course, and how can you determine whether or not a student has met them? Completing homework—practicing—might help the student to meet the standard, but does not indicate that he or she has. Homework should therefore have very little effect on the actual grade. The grade should indicate the extent to which the student met the standard, and not the extent to which the student (for example) followed directions.

OK, here's a possibly constructive suggestion.

Your reasons for wanting students to practice are more than reasonable. The question is, how do you get middle school students to do something that is rewarding in the long term when they are surrounded by things that are rewarding in the short term?

I teach English, and my primary homework assignment is for students to read a certain amount every night. (And write, too, but let's focus on reading.) I don't require them to keep any kind of time log, and I’m happy to say that I don’t require the note-taking, etc. that OSC mentions above. So how do I know they're reading? Well, on one level, I don't. I don't know if they read on a particular day or not, and to be truthful I don't care. I’d prefer for them to read some every day, but really I want them to read. The key has been to motivate them to read, rather than to measure if they read. A few things help with this:

1. Encouraging them to read any book they choose.
2. Helping them to find books they like.
3. Having them discuss books with peers.
4. Helping them to set individual goals for what they want to do with their reading.

(I notice that your practice suggestions already do much of the band-equivalent, by the way.)

Individual goals help tremendously in motivating my students to practice. What I do is help them set a baseline—they record the books they read in the first quarter, noting title, genre, and number of pages—then they decide how much they want to read for second quarter. I help them to set a goal that is both challenging and something they can achieve. Although I still assign daily reading, it’s not really necessary. They have a meaningful goal to work toward, and by and large they do the work required to get there.

Perhaps getting students involved in determining a long-term goal that they find meaningful will help in getting them to put in the time to practice. (Is there a piece that is fun to play, yet very challenging for your band? Is there a competition coming up? Is there a chance of someone whose opinion they really respect coming to a concert? Do they ever perform for their peers?)

Another suggestion—if you do want to have some sort of time chart, DON’T have the parents sign it. Have the kids sign it. The parents aren’t in your class—who cares if they’re honest or not? Make the kids responsible to you, talk to them about integrity, let them know that their honesty is important to you. I used to have parents initial that their kids had read so many pages, books, etc., and lying from kids was rampant. When I switched to asking kids to initial that they’d read the books, all of a sudden very very very very few kids lied to me. I can’t think of a single example in the last 6 years, actually.

And let me wind up by saying this: I used to require employ various less-successful ways of measuring if kids read. The above 4 techniques have been the most successful thus far BY far. And my grading is far from perfect—I’m right now in the middle of considering if I need to count quizzes less. It’ll require changing my whole system—in the middle of the year! [Razz]
Best of luck to you. You’re the best kind of teacher—one who is willing to be thoughtful about his practice, and change when change is called for.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Liz B:
Twenty percent for homework, no matter how worthwhile, is very, very high. Too high.

I strongly disagree, especially up to the junior high level, and possibly higher.
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Liz B
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Here's why it's too high.

Let me specify first that by homework I mean the practice a student does outside of the classroom in order to learn something, not a major assignment that happens to be done at home (paper, project, etc.). In the first case, it's a formative assessment--something student does in order to help him or her to learn, and something the teacher uses to figure out where a student is in order to determine what further teaching might be needed. (I'm sure many people reading this thread already know what a formative assessment is, but I wanted to explain just in case.) A formative assignment should be the work the student is doing to learn, not the work he or she is doing to demonstrate learning. As such (and if designed well), it should give the teacher lots of information about his or her teaching and what should be done next--but it doesn't say much about whether or not the student has mastered the standard. That's why it shouldn't be worth much. The grade is not a reward for doing work, or a penalty for not doing work. It's a measurement of the degree to which the student mastered the objectives being taught.

Let me be clear--I think kids who demonstrate mastery of the standards of a course without doing one lick of homework should get As. Because that's what an A means.

I think kids who do not demonstrate adequate mastery/ understanding of the standards, even if they completed every assignment to the best of their ability, should not pass. (I also think that a situation like that often indicates a mismatch between the curriculum and a student's developmental needs--or else terrible instruction--but that's another discussion altogether.)

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Liz B:
Let me be clear--I think kids who demonstrate mastery of the standards of a course without doing one lick of homework should get As. Because that's what an A means.

I would agree if we were talking about college-level courses. Not high school, and DEFINITELY not junior high or younger. Part of school is mastery of material, but in those age groups it is definitely not all of it.

I say this both as a teacher who has given students who were bright but unwilling to work B's, and as the mother of a daughter who had much the same thing happen last year (and her teacher was surprised that rather than being angry, I thought it was exactly right).

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Quara
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I get so board over technicalities. There are so many of them, and all they do is complicate an issue. I am one that loves music. I always have, and I always will, regardless of the disappointing teachers I may learn from or confusing circumstances that complicate my willingness to learn. I chose that I liked music, and nothing anyone can do or say will change my opinion or my passion.

So, can't we just forget about the technicalities and just enjoy our classes? I have never been a teacher, but I believe that it is possible for both teacher and student to walk away from class excited of what they learned.

Is it at all possible just to have
fun?

Of course, you may say that school isn't meant to be fun. School is work, right? Work can never be fun. Or, can it?

What I feel is that we must understand is that regardless of our age, rank, sex, or skin, we are all granted unalienable rights under God (according to the foundation of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence: Preamble-Thanks [Smile] ). Because of this, we are all equal on the same playing field: we are all equal in his sight (we all have different circumstances, but all of us can pray). Therefore, why should the Professor esteem himself greater than his Pupil? Sure, The Professor has a lot more knowledge than the Student, but God has a lot more knowledge than either the Professor or the Student, and the Professor and Student will always be able to learn from God. Thus, should we not share our knowledge, as a friend to a friend?

There are far too many circumstances to list the possible 'right' way, so if I didn't, forgive me. If I didn't write the 'right' thing, forgive me. I tried. And I'm sure that somebody will argue with my ideas. And I except your argument. I am in the search for truth. Are you?

So, what am I getting at? Sometimes, even I don't know. I think what I mean is that learning doesn't need to be complicated. It can be simple. Hey, and it can even be fun!

And boy, does that sound like Utopian speech. It may sound like fantasy, but it is possible. If you are the teacher, all you have to do is treat your student like you would your own child. If you are the student...I'm not so sure, but I believe that there is a solution, I just don't know it yet. What ever you do, don't try to 'solve' the problem. It just makes it worse.

Oh, yes. And thank you OSC for the plainness of your speech (and your books, and your writings and your example). It gives me hope that I'm not just a raving lunatic (or, at least not the only one). Ha! Maybe I am!, but it is awful fun! (at least my friends haven't said otherwise...)

Quara

[ November 05, 2008, 02:32 PM: Message edited by: Quara ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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I was required to practice an average of 30 minutes a day, or 3.5 hours a week.

I always did it, even if it meant doing 3 hours of practice on Sunday.

If I had been required to practice every day like Bando requires, I don't know if I would have started lying, abandoned my band grade, or quit band altogether, but one of those three would have happened. As much as I loved band, I would have hated being required to practice every day even more.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
What I feel is that we must understand is that regardless of our age, rank, sex, or skin, we are all granted unalienable rights under God (according to the Constitution).
It's the Declaration of Independence which talks about unalienable rights, not the constitution.
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Steve_G
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Man what's with all the bragging band geeks here at Hatrack? I wanted to play trumpet in 6th grade, but got stuck with a clarinet, because we couldn't afford a trumpet and had a friend with a clarinet I could borrow. I stuck with it for 2 years rarely practiced, and rarely got higher than 2nd or 3rd to last chair. I knew I was bad at it, hated dragging that clarinet home to practice, and finally dropped it (the class not the borrowed clarinet) after the second year. I did switch over to choir for 8th grade and liked it better than band, though I wasn't very good at it either.

Nowadays I can averagely play a couple of songs on the harmonica from memory and consider that good enough.

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Scott R
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I used to drain my spit valve on guys like you.

[Big Grin]

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TomDavidson
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Is that what they're calling it now?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Bragging? You want bragging?

OK.

I played the clarinet, and I was awesome. I was the only guy who played the clarinet, and I was always first chair. And I was generally pretty obnoxious about it.

I loved the clarinet when we were playing inside or with the orchestra, but I hated it when we went outside. As a woodwind in marching band, I was there to make pretty pictures on the field and look like I was playing my instrument. Oh, and for the occasional obnoxious trill.

Which is why I switched to pit percussion during marching season. Not only was I not useless anymore, but I didn't even have to march!

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Artemisia Tridentata
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Just for a compairison. My band teacher called me in after the first quarter of my sophmore year, told me he was giving me an F for the quarter, and would continue to give me F until I started to take private lessons. I was the only one given that "offer".
I called a Bassoonist from the Utah Symphony that very evening and started on Saturday. (He was the third bassoon and a prodigy several months younger than I.) I have always been thankful for that encouragement. Music was a large part of my growing up and still remains one of the loves of my life. By the way, quarter grades were not recorded on the record, only semester.

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forensicgeek
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Being an orchestra student in both junior high and high school I understand a need for some people to practice. However, in such situations as a school music group there is a wide variety of musical talent. Some kids have played for years previous, and others are brand new. Some students will take more time to master the music than others.

For myself, all the practice I needed came from the in-class playing time. When I was required to practice I found it tedious and boring...it made me lose focus and dislike playing. I learned best not from individual practice but from goofing around in class or with my classmates outside of class.

I understand the need to be able to grade students but the point of being in a music group is to have fun and learn a skill. Dedication does not need to be forced through practice it comes by learning to love what you are doing.

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Liz B
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quote:
would agree if we were talking about college-level courses. Not high school, and DEFINITELY not junior high or younger. Part of school is mastery of material, but in those age groups it is definitely not all of it.

Fair enough. This is a philosophical difference about what a grade should mean which we're both taking to its logical conclusion.

I do think that students should also get a grade/ report on things like timeliness, study habits, cooperation in groups, etc. I just don't think it should be folded in with the course grade.

Edited to add: Part of why I think 20% is way too high is due to my system's grading scale. An 80 is a C--not even a C+. A student who (say) aced all her math tests but didn't bother with the homework would get a C, which is not at all an accurate indication of what she knows and is able to do. But even in a standard 10-point scale where an 80 is a B-...still too much impact, in my view.

[ November 05, 2008, 04:05 PM: Message edited by: Liz B ]

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BandoCommando
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I was required to practice an average of 30 minutes a day, or 3.5 hours a week.

I always did it, even if it meant doing 3 hours of practice on Sunday.

If I had been required to practice every day like Bando requires, I don't know if I would have started lying, abandoned my band grade, or quit band altogether, but one of those three would have happened. As much as I loved band, I would have hated being required to practice every day even more.

MPH: it's not *every* day; but 5 days a week. Students can select which two days they do not practice on.

Also, it's a fairly regular occurrence for students to account for days on which they absolutely could not practice on their log by indicated what prevented them from practice (dress rehearsal for a play that took all non-school time, family vacation, illness, etc.) In these cases, I tend to be pretty lenient.

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Orincoro
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Well Bando, as you know, a lot of it just comes down to your rapport with students. I had teachers I would stay up all night to impress, and I had others who I simply wouldn't work for. I know not every student's exactly like that, but there's a degree of it in everyone. Music teachers are a special bread too- they inspire fierce loyalties in college, but in High School, it could cut either way. Is that your experience?
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lobo
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quote:
Originally posted by Artemisia Tridentata:
Just for a compairison. My band teacher called me in after the first quarter of my sophmore year, told me he was giving me an F for the quarter, and would continue to give me F until I started to take private lessons. I was the only one given that "offer".

If that "offer" was given to my child, I would not be happy.
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El JT de Spang
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I think Art's point was that, compared to his band teacher, Bando is doing pretty freaking great.
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