As part of the Curriculum Review process our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) went through in recent years, the K-12 Music PLC chose to specifically use takadimi and solfège to teach rhythmic and tonal literacy in General Music, Vocal Music, and Instrumental Music (we do not have an orchestra program in our district). Before delving in to the details of these tools, I want to emphasize that these are only tools. They are not necessarily the way, the truth, and the light. They are a means we use to teach to our power standards. This is my first year teaching using these tools in band, but it is our district’s fourth or fifth year of implementation. Students in fourth grade or below have received nothing but these tools in their instruction. Students in fifth grade or above have received a mixture of these and other tools. From my personal experience teaching vertically in a 6-12 Instrumental Music PLC, the consistency is the key. Because students have received a consistent method of instruction on rhythmic and tonal literacy, they are better at decoding the musical symbols on the page. So how do we use these tools?
Our district is moving to a Standards-Based Learning model, and our 6-12 Instrumental Music Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) has jumped right in! I wanted to discuss a bit what that looks like for us, what we are wrestling with to improve our student’s learning. If you need a little bit more about what Standards-Based Learning is overall, JumpRope (an SBL software we are looking at using) provides some basic information on their blog. Our district has also released a document entitled Fair and Consistent Practices to detail what this will look like for us. In a previous post, I described our vertical lesson format that is allowing 6-12 grade students to take lessons with a teacher who is a “pro” on their primary instrument. We are using these lessons as our leaping off point for incorporating Standards-Based Learning into our programs.
I am very excited to be part of a new team teaching instrumental music in a vertical setting. In our feeder system we have four (soon to be five) K-5 elementary schools, one 6-7 middle school, one 8-9 middle school, and one 10-12 high school. In terms of band directors, there are currently ~3.0 FTE for 5th grade, 2.0 FTE at the 6-7 building, 1.0 FTE at the 8-9 building, and 2.0 FTE at the 10-12 building. The same system is duplicated for the other feeder system on the other side of town. I am not sure of the reasoning nor the history, but our school district does not have an orchestra program. Our music curriculum includes K-5 General Music, 5-12 Instrumental Music (Band), and 6-12 Vocal Music. Continue reading “Vertical Teaching”