MAC Corner: 8 Essentials for Maximizing Rehearsal Time

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According to School, Band and Orchestra, here are eight things music educators should be fitting into every rehearsal. 

Have a Plan so No Time is Wasted

Isn’t it amazing how much time we spend with our students? In a given school year if you teach a class for 45 minutes per day, five days per week, for 180 days, you are spending 8,100 minutes with the same set of students. Those minutes are a valuable commodity. Displaying the agenda/plan for the day is so important for students to know that you have a plan, and it helps lower student anxiety levels when they can count on things happening in a particular order. Having a plan usually saves you time over the course of multiple classes.

Individual Warm Up Time

I am a big believer in allowing students to warm-up individually before the rehearsal begins. I realize that there may be reason why you might not want them all playing before class starts, but in most cases, I think it’s an essential skill to know how a proper individual warm-up can drastically improve success for the entire ensemble. I can’t tell you how many times students find out that their instrument isn’t working, or students are able to help each other with musical/ non-musical items during warm-up time. Give them a time limit of 2-3 minutes and if you have younger students, you might want to post on the board several “choices” for warmups such as “long tones, major scale, chromatic scale, a melody from a piece of music, lip slurs, rudiments, etc.”. If you want to help keep students accountable during this time, I recommend having them journal periodically in their folder so that they have an opportunity to describe the warm-ups they are using. Making them write about it usually helps keep them on track for several days afterward. I also recommend watching several videos of professionals warming up so that they can see it and hear it done correctly. I would also recommend that they see you warm up on your instrument from time to time so that you can show them what you are trying to accomplish in that time period.

Play in Unison

It is so important to play in unison. It is a wonderful way for students to learn to come to a “musical consensus” and is often time the only time in a rehearsal where you can teach the exact same thing to every student.

It is an opportunity to focus in and out from your own sound, and I think too many of us jump right into playing in harmony way too fast. The payoff for playing in unison is that students learn how to start, sustain, and release together.

By ​Glen Schneider
Excerpt from School, Band and Orchestra, Dec. 4, 2018, Digital Issue.

Read the complete article, here

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