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Graduate Summer Symphonic Band

● Going Beyond Repertoire as a Curriculum- Part 1: Rote Teaching

Robby’s presentation of his method for including rote teaching in his daily rehearsal

routine has inspired me to add more ear training and rote teaching exercises into my own

teaching (Comenius, Pestalozzi). Robby’s goal through this exercise is to help students learn

how to audiate their music (Gordon). There are several other benefits to this exercise that he

includes in his handout. My first summer of this Master’s program has encouraged me to step

away from sheet music a little bit, and venture into the world of learning by ear. I have realized

that there are two main parts of music literacy: reading notation, and learning by ear. Before

taking the Vernacular music class, trumpet lessons, and experiencing this activity, I did not

understand that learning by ear is a valuable part of music literacy (Gordon, Suzuki). I knew

that it was important, but I did not realize how important it is. I viewed it as something that is

more applicable for jazz musicians, but it is beneficial to everyone and it should be taught to all

music students (which means all students, since I believe that every individual should have

access to music education -Lowell Mason). Personally, I have been trained in the traditional

“classical” style of music-making for my entire life (playing music from sheet music). While I

have enjoyed and learned a lot from refining my technique and expressing music from the piece

that I’m learning, which is a valuable and important way of making music, I have lacked a

significant aspect of becoming a well-rounded musician. I have not explored improvisation or

playing by ear very much. This is a weakness in my own musicianship that I have discovered

and that I would like to improve upon, but it also affects my teaching. Instead of teaching with

my primary focus being on reading music notation and playing sheet music, I want to add in

aspects of ear-training and rote playing in order to help develop my students’ aural/audiation

skills. I believe that teaching with both of these as equal goals will help my students become

well-rounded and will help them be set up for success in whatever musical experiences they

would like to explore in their futures (Pestalozzi). This ear-training exercise also familiarizes
students with folk songs (Kodaly). Robby’s exercise has given me one idea of how to

incorporate rote teaching into my lesson plans. It has also inspired me to want to create my own

ear-training activities that will help my students become comfortable with improvisation and

improve their ability to audiate.