Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Middle School Band Directors Get Creative with Online Learning

“Music has always been a therapy for me, so I figured one way to bring a smile to their faces, even for just a brief minute, would be to have a piece of music recorded that they could easily access anywhere in their house,” said Dawson Middle School Band Director Chase Howard, recounting how he came up with the fun “Concert on the Couch” idea. Last week, Dawson Middle band students were treated to a concert from their band director, playing multiple parts to one song, all thanks to the application Smart Music. Click here to watch the first “Concert on the Couch” video. Howard came up with this idea when he was brainstorming online lessons for his students during the emergency school closures.

The Dawson Middle and Eubanks Intermediate Bands work extremely close together as one band, under the direction of Chase Howard and Eric Guerrero. These directors knew the focus would initially be their core curriculum classes, but wanted to ensure the students had achievable goals for their band curriculum, which is when Howard started getting creative with the Smart Music idea. This program has an unending library of musical titles that range from student curriculum from band class, to pieces they would hear at the movies. After they posted the first “Concert on the Couch” video to Canvas, the student’s online earning platform, they had students reaching out asking how they too could create a similar compilation. Smart Music is granting all students free access to the musical library through June, so the Dawson and Eubanks students were able to get their own account and explore the different types of music and how to play along during the school closures.

“We are continuing with our normal curriculum of rhythm and notation pedagogy while emphasizing the use of fundamentals with our 6th Grade Beginners,” said Howard. “They were planning on performing at a Solo & Ensemble event at the end of March, so Smart Music and this recital opportunity really fits hand in hand with what we were already working on.”

Directors Guerrero and Howard are encouraging their students to continue playing their instruments at home through other fun activities, like Band Bingo, where students can earn a virtual “bingo” by following the bingo card and recording different pieces of music and submitting them to Canvas. “We are certainly figuring it out as we go along,” said Howard. “We have definitely been having a good time putting a twist on how we normally would deliver material out to students.”