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HAT Journal Essay

Over the course of Instrumental Methods II, I have gained an abundance of knowledge

about teaching instrumental ensembles. The articles that I read and have wrote journals over

have covered nearly every aspect of teaching an instrumental ensemble. Not only have we

read, researched, and discussed elements of teaching in the classroom, but several

administrative factors that are included in a band director position. Such objects that we have

covered in our journals include recruitment strategies, curriculum, micro teachings and field

experience, writing lessons, rehearsing techniques, implementing national standards, and

techniques of assessment.

During this course, I acquired significant knowledge and strategies for recruiting students

to join band. This aspect of teaching is one that cant truly be taught in a college classroom. The

information that I have gathered on this topic will considerably help once it comes time for me to

recruit for the first time. I learned and realized that recruitment is an element of teaching that

many teachers do not consider before attaining a band director job. Multiple strategies can be

used to recruit band members, including a recruitment concert. Having current students play

and demonstrate fun tunes on their instruments will showcase how much fun music can be. At

this concert, announcing an instrument testing day and dispersing a recruitment letter will

additionally help with growing a music program. Directors should decide the instrumentation that

they desire before the instrument testing day. For example, they should decide if they are using

a smaller instrumentation or a full band instrumentation. The instrument testing session might

include timbre preference testing, evaluating how the instrument physically fits each student,

and informally assessing their music literacy skills. Other methods of recruiting might consist of

creating a video, posters, and inviting younger members to play at sports events with older

members. Recruitment is a vital portion of a band directors job because with no members, there

is no band.
Content and sequencing of curricula is another element of teaching that I have attained

knowledge about during this course. In my opinion, the first step of creating and deciding on

content and a curriculum is collaborating with the additional music teachers in same school

corporation. The step is to make the content clear to the students and the parents by including a

list in the band handbook. Its crucial for students parents to be updated on what they are

learning in class, and the band handbook is a great medium for supplying this information.

Deciding on repertoire and method books is not easy for band directors to simply do. This

process takes an abundance of knowledge and consideration to decide what will fundamentally

be best for the students in terms of learning. The process of choosing repertoire consists of

evaluating a piece of music and deciding if a work is quality. Is there enough material to teach

concepts? Is there aesthetic value to this piece of music? Can I incorporate and connect other

subjects such as history and culture to this work? These are all questions that should be asked

when directors are completing a search for repertoire. Additionally, directors also have to decide

what method book they are going to use across the band. Factors including, the pacing of the

book and the helpful elements to help students understand and differentiate different concepts

(usage of symbols, colors, etc.). Through reading articles and discussions in class, I have

learned about the concept of spiral curriculum. I learned that spiral curriculum is when teachers

take in account what the students have already learned while teaching content, while also re-

emphasizing the concepts that have already been taught throughout their education. Becoming

familiar with creating and sequencing curricula is extremely important because if a band director

doesnt plan ahead in his/her planning, their students will not learn and perform to their fullest


Another factor of teaching instrumental ensembles that I have become more

familiarized with after completing HAT journals is sight-before-sound pedagogy. This is a

concept that we have learned in our first music education courses and I was able to connect it to

teaching band after taking this class. Teaching sound before sight is an important strategy to
improve students music literacy. Students will eventually be understanding and realizing what

they are doing musically instead of simply pressing buttons down or playing a key on a mallet

instrument. In order to incorporate this method in ensemble rehearsals, a few things must

happen. The teacher must create a positive and no judgement environment and must teach

students how to sing. One strategy to get students comfortable is to have them manipulate their

voices by singing sirens so that they grow accustomed to using their air and vocal chords to

raise and lower the pitch of their voice. The microteachings completed in this class provided an

opportunity to practice using sound-before-sight to prepare students to read a piece of music

with more success. This process consisted of an pitch and rhythm echo translation exercise that

students would apply on their instruments to prepare them for playing repertoire. If the students

have the executive skills, this adds the component that will allow students to have more success

while reading a piece of music. Moreover, using this method will result in less micromanaging. I

also learned that this method can be used to teach new concepts by altering songs that

students know by rote. For example, an effective way to incorporate this in a classroom is

altering the meter or mode of a song by teaching them by rote to introduce these concepts. I

have realized how important the sound-before-sight method is in increasing student music


During this course, I have additionally gained knowledge about rehearsal techniques in a

concert band setting and a jazz band setting. To start, I learned how important rehearsal

environment is in both kinds of ensembles. Its crucial for the director to provide imagination,

humor, and assurance in rehearsal. Microteachings and field work provided several experiences

to practice this element of rehearsing. Warm ups were additionally overviewed in articles and in

class, giving information on drones, breathing, scales, improvising, and incorporating every

student in the warm up process including percussionists. In the jazz band environment, I

learned that starting rehearsals with jam sessions where each student has a chance to improve

will engage the students immediately. In general, students will be more engaged when directors
will use the macro-micro-macro method of rehearsing. Furthermore, students will not get bored

and frustrated during the rehearsal process. The rehearsal process will go more smoothly if the

director shows more in their conducting so that the rehearsal isnt spent with solely the director

giving instruction by talking. The rehearsal process is one of the most important aspects of an

instrumental ensemble, therefore the information that I gained will be extremely helpful in the


After having completed the HAT journals, I have more ways to implement the national

standard for music education in the classroom. The primary strategy to do so is comprehensive

musicianship. Comprehensive musicianship is a creative medium to teach students beyond

simply playing music. Directors can use this strategy to connect the music with history, culture,

and with aesthetic experiences. Writing letters, essays, completing research projects, etc. can

be used to implement national standards in an instrumental ensemble rehearsal. From my

experience, implementing all of the national standards is something that music teachers often

struggle with, so learning about more ways to do so is extremely helpful.

The final element of teaching an instrumental ensemble that I will mention is the

techniques of assessment. Band directors are assessing everyday and nearly all of the time.

Informal assessments should be done in rehearsals to monitor tuning, pitch accuracy, rhythmic

accuracy, phrasing, tone, and articulation. These are just a few elements of the informal

assessment that band directors should complete during every rehearsal. After completing the

HAT journals, I have learned how important rubrics are, in addition to different strategies to go

about creating them. We have also learned about various summative assessments such as

playing tests. This may be done in the form of a video assignment or one-on-one playing

assessments. Assessment is crucial when teaching an instrumental ensemble. It is extremely

difficult to gauge each and every students progress from the podium. Therefore, assessment is

the primary way that directors should accurately gauge the progress of students. These are just
a few of the elements of teaching an instrumental ensemble that I have gained knowledge about

from reading articles and completing HAT journals.