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Planning Commentary edTPA

Andrew Sowatzke
1. a.Describe the central focus and purpose for the content you will teach in the learning
The concert band at the school that I am student teaching at suffers greatly from not
participating as an ensemble in rehearsals and performances. Many of the students are content
with playing their notes and rhythms at any volume, regardless of the ensembles voicing,
complexity, or melodic content. The lesson segment is planned to slowly combat that as we
prepare for our concert on March 10th. The goal is to get the students to have a basic
understanding of proper ensemble performance techniques, and for them to start to evaluate their
own performances to be aware of when they are not using proper ensemble playing.
b. Given the central focus, describe how the standards and learning objectives within your
learning segment address creating, performing, or responding to music by applying artistic
skills, knowledge, and contextual understandings.
MU:Cr3.1 Evaluate and refine selected musical ideas to create musical work that meets
appropriate criteria.
By addressing certain ideas within the larger phrases, especially during T.J. Cross Be
Thou My Vision, we can as an ensemble refine our own vision of the piece. The trumpet solo
sets the initial musical idea that the rest of the ensemble will use the same style, so being able to
evaluate what the trumpet solo has done will create a better chance at a unified ensemble sound.
Being able to evaluate and connect similarities and differences even if needed prodding is the
start to a great ensemble.
MU:Pr4.3 Develop personal interpretations that consider creators intent
By allowing our principal players and soloists to perform their given parts with their own
interpretations allow the ensembles leadership to set the models for evaluation and refinement
set in the prior standard. Allowing the students to establish their own interpretation allows the
ensemble to have some individuality, and allows students the chance to perform their own
interpretations for the group to evaluate.
MU:Pr5.3 Evaluate and refine personal and ensemble performances, individually or in
collaboration with others.
This standard allows us to apply the knowledge of previous performance techniques
lessons and apply it to the evaluation of personal, group, and given performances and rehearsals.
This is the practical application of knowledge that I have taught them, and allows me to assess
whether they can apply proper terms and ideas to their own performances.
MU:Pr6.1 Perform expressively, with appropriate interpretation and technical accuracy
and in a manner appropriate to the audience and context.
Being able to perform expressively as an entire ensemble is the end goal of this learning
segment, especially doing it together. This standard addresses performing within the ensemble
sound, and with the proper balance. Most of my objectives for the learning for the day fall most
within the realm of this standard. Being able to perform the piece and convey its entire meaning
to the audience is the end goal of this segment.

MU:Re9.1 Support personal evaluation of musical works and performance(s) based on

analysis, interpretation, and established criteria.
This is important as it allows me to assess the students knowledge of the material, and
their use of understanding of the important factors of how to perform as an ensemble. My
lessons always include students giving their own feedback on their performances, being that it
helps push them to understand why things arent working out.
c. Explain how your plans build on each other to help students in creating, performing, or
responding to music and in making connections to artistic skills, knowledge, and contextual
The plans build on each other by quickly reviewing what we had covered the lesson prior
during our warm up and getting our minds engaged in the rehearsal. In Lesson 1 we cover the
warmth of sound, dynamics and how they apply within the ensemble rather than the individual,
and how we can convey similar ideas through listening. In Lesson 2, those themes are present
during the warm up during our working on the chorale Bach 95. By dedicating the warm up time
to reviewing our work from the lesson prior, it gives us the opportunity to have a successful and
engaged warm up and sets the ensemble up for a productive rehearsal. The last lesson is the
highest pinnacle as it is a run through of our pieces. By using the warm up time to focus
ourselves on topics already covered, we should be engaged enough to allow ourselves to
showcase all our skills, old and new.
2. a. Cite evidence of what students know, what they can do, and what they are still
learning to do.
The students know and are able to identify good sounding performances, are able to
identify and evaluate positives and negatives of their own sound, and have an understanding of
the proper technique of their instrument. I am able to assess their understandings of
performances and both positives and negatives through rehearsals. Their ability to use proper
technique has been assessed by both myself and my supervising teacher through individual
lessons. The students are capable of achieving rhythmic or melodic accuracy, able to play most
notes with a centered and decent tone, and can perform both by themselves and within
ensembles. This is understood through their performances at Solo & Ensemble competition, and
through personal lessons with myself and my supervising teacher. The students are still learning
to actively listen and to be active musicians rather than passively allow music to pass in front of
b. What do you know about your students everyday experiences, cultural backgrounds,
practices, and interests?
The students that I interact with on a daily basis are on average from upper middle class
families, and are mostly Caucasian with a few African American, Hispanic, and Latino students
as well. All of the students that I teach do not need to worry about where they will be sleeping
that night, or when the next time they will be able to eat is. The school itself is placed within a
suburban setting, minutes away from a mall and major retail stores. The students that I work
with are used to immediate gratification through internet and social media, and are frustrated

easily with work. Students will actively participate if pushed hard enough, and are willing to
work for internal gratification rather than extrinsic motivation.
Some of the students within this ensemble participate in multiple activities ranging from
engineering teams to being on an, if not multiple, athletic teams. Conflicts with the ensemble
abound on a weekly basis from conflicting rehearsals or trips.
The students interests are just as ranged, as the ensemble has musicians who are avid
horseback riders, archers, bowlers, artists, and academicians. It does mean that finding the time
to practice seems to always be an excuse that is brought up as to why they are not as successful
as they could be.
3. a. Justify how your understanding of your students prior academic learning and
personal/cultural/community assets guided your choice or adaptation of learning tasks and
materials. Be explicit about the connections between the learning tasks and students; prior
academic learning, assets, and research/theory.
Understanding that most of the students everyday life is achieving a passing score or
doing exactly what they are told is why I wanted the students to explore conveying emotion,
direction, and performing as an ensemble. Being able to convey emotions through music rather
than play just the notes and rhythms and letting the students really decide how they wanted
everything helps the students receive a type of freedom of expression that I think that some of
these students do not have in the rest of their everyday experiences. In choices of material T.J.
Cross Be Thou My Vision allowed for many instances of emotional draw from the students,
while Sousas The Liberty Bell March is a staple of band literature and was educationally well
suited to meet curriculum needs of the program. The bands two other works Different Voices
and The Music Man Medley allow for some more interpretation, but are being taught by my
supervising teacher. My choice of material was not entirely my own as the department does
have to meet certain expectations. However adapting the learning tasks that require the ensemble
to work together and convey a clear emotion to the ensemble was entirely my own choice, and
was brought about by listening to apathetic rehearsals and performances from the ensemble. The
students that I work with all came through a fantastically run 9th grade program, where emotion,
dynamics, phrasing, and ensemble performance were all required and discussed at length.
However, the high school has gone through numerous director changes within the last few years,
with varying expectations on the students. Therefore, all of the students have had this instruction
before, it just has not been reinforced or retaught due to a very fluid teaching corps.
b. Describe and justify why your instructional strategies and planned supports are
appropriate for the whole class, individuals, and/or groups of students with specific
learning needs.
The way that my lesson is set up and designed is to maximize the level of engagement
and ability to succeed from the highest amount of my students. The entire class is struggling
with grasping this concept so many of the lessons ideas are designed at making sure the whole
group is actively thinking about the new concepts. By utilizing the warm up as the large section
of the instruction, it allows us to teach the students while their attention span is still active, rather
than trying to teach new concepts while students are beginning to space out, and let their minds
wander. Using the warm up as an instructional tool also allows me to see who is being engaged,

and showing me who is not ready for rehearsal to begin as well. The reason for this is that most
of our warm ups are unisons which require that all members be playing and participating. It also
lets me hear by section which people are having the largest difficulty with the newer concepts, as
well as who is struggling musically in both technique and sound.
Individually this plan touches on certain students that I know have had issues performing
as a soloist or as a melodic figure that the rest of the ensemble will be following (trumpet and
euphonium). I know that by working with them during ensemble rehearsal that some of the
things that I touch on with them will be applicable to other sections and other individuals
throughout the remainder of the rehearsal as well as the rest of the learning segment.
Though I have no students on IEPs or 504s, this plan does help students who struggle
musically to feel as if they are contributing through in class discussions, private feedback on the
quiz, as well as personal performance. Though the students struggle with understanding basic
rhythms and fingerings for notes, the idea of conveyable emotion such as the way humans
interact with spoken word is something that I feel the students will be able to pick up on.
c. Describe common student errors, weaknesses, or misunderstandings within your content
focus and how you will address them.
The most common error that students make while trying to play within an ensemble is
playing too loud, and covering up other important parts. This comes from a misplaced belief that
the written dynamic is what they should play, rather than what the ensemble as a whole should
be playing. The current plan for when this arises is to have the student mark that portion of their
music down one dynamics level (mp to p, or f to mf). This will most likely be very common
among my ensemble and will be repeated multiple times.
A weakness that I see happening within this new focus is that the solo voices or melodic
content that we are trying to feature and bring out is played incorrectly or with bad tone and is
not fit for production as a ensemble. We have many great students who are capable of playing
well within an ensemble, but not many who are capable of performing as a soloist with an
ensemble. For this measure I have been working with many of the students who this issue arises
around, (euphoniums, trumpets, and oboe) and hopefully personal practice as well as modeling
and giving individualized feedback during ensemble rehearsal can help.
As far as misunderstandings go, I try to make sure that all of my directions are clear and
that everyone understands before moving on. However in case that a misunderstanding is not
caught, that voice will most likely stick out of the texture that we have worked with.
4. a. Identify one language function essential for students to learn the performing arts
knowledge within your central focus. Choose a word from those given, or another, that is
appropriate for your learning segment.
This word is extremely important for the students to be able to use and describe in their
evaluations of their ensembles and solo performances. Beyond looking at the term as playing
their instrument to their peers or to an audience, it is pertinent that the students view performing
as the conveying of musical ideas and emotions from themselves to the audience. What is the
music trying to say? What are you as performers trying to say through the music? These are
questions that help bring out the best performances from the students.

Being able to describe a performance, in detail with proper support given as to why a
performance was good or bad, is one of the primary concepts of this lesson segment.
b. Identify a key learning task from your plans that provides students with opportunities to
practice using the language function. Identify the lesson in which the learning task occurs.
All of the lessons are centered on performing and how the students can understand and
evaluate their performance.
c. Given the language function and learning task identified above, describe the following
associated language demands students need to understand and/or use: (1) vocabulary
and/or symbols; plus at least one of the following (a) Syntax, (b) discourse.
All lessons and tasks include the students being able to convey into structured sentences,
mainly oral but also containing a written portion, their thoughts and descriptions of their own
performances. The use of discourse required to convey interpretations, style, and even
articulation lengths to the ensemble means that the students need to have an understanding of the
terms for dynamics, be able to understand the relationship between notes, and to be confident
with their knowledge of basic musical terms. Students need to know the difference between
staccato, legato, alla Marcia, tenuto, and other frequently used terms that define the music that
is covered in these lessons. Since The Liberty Bell March and Be Thou My Vision are two
contrasting pieces, the terms do not overlap often between the pieces and require the students to
have a working knowledge of both sets of terms. The goal is to get the students to use these
terms to convey the interpretations of performance of the pieces.
d. Describe the instructional supports that help students understand and successfully use
the language function and additional language demands identified in prompts 4a-c.
As most of our discussion and evaluation is done in class orally, as the teacher I am able
to define words that are not often used or help write and break down the word on our white board
in the classroom. Evaluations of performances are, and have been, modeled by my supervising
teacher and I in every rehearsal since I was placed here. Students are aware of the vocabulary to
be used, and are led to the correct vocabulary via leading questions from myself or my
supervising teacher if they are not yet fluent in it. Most of the terms identified in 4c are terms
that have been present in their education from 5th grade on, but the application of those terms
when it comes to performance is new. This plan has me model the application of terms as well
as leading student centered feedback.
5.a. Describe how your planned formal and informal assessments will provide direct
evidence of students creating, performing, or responding to music by applying artistic
skills, knowledge, and/or contextual understanding throughout the learning segment.
Through both my informal oral assessments and the more formal assessment of the quiz
given on March 5th, I should be able to demonstrate that students are understanding and grasping
the vocabulary and discourse abilities required to convey ideas for performance as well as their
understanding of the piece. Through the actual performance students will be able to demonstrate

that they understand performing using artistic qualities applicable to the ensemble sound, that
they have a grasp for the application of the terms, and they are capable of adapting to the moving
ensemble sound.
5. b. Explain how the design or adaptation of your planned assessments allows students
with specific needs to demonstrate their learning.
Students who require more time to think through and process performances are allowed
to demonstrate their ability to do so via writing, while allowing students who are quick to
process information can answer and demonstrate their ability in class. Yet again, with no
students who have IEPs or 504 plans most of my students should have the capability of
answering in class using the proper vocabulary as modeled and defined by myself. The quiz that
is to be handed out on Thursday features a written evaluation that I can assess the language
ability and process how each student has picked up on the given vocabulary and let me adapt my
teaching for the 3rd lesson. This should allow me to make sure that all of my students are able to
meet the necessary level of competence with this material.