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North Central High School Observation Oct 4, 2011

Freshman Orchestra 1. Grade Level and Type of Class (Choral/Instrumental/General) Freshmen, Orchestra 2. Teacher and School Craig Ghormley, North Central High School 3. Classroom set-up All the chairs and stands were set up beforehand. The cellos and basses (actual instruments) were on racks on the sides of the room. Many students had their violins and violas in cubbies in a room outside of the orchestra room. In front was the conductors stand and podium. There was also a whiteboard on one wall that Mr. Ghormley wrote the pieces that would be practiced that class. The students dropped off their backpacks at the side of the room to keep the playing area clear. Students also were able to pick up their music in open cubbies in the classroom on one wall. 4. Description of procedures for the lesson/rehearsal (instructional goals and methods employed) In the beginning of class, all the students individually tuned to an electronic A. After all the As were in tune, students tuned themselves for the rest of their strings, then Mr. Ghormley tuned each open string individually. Next the class played a C major scale. Before starting, Mr. Ghormley reminded the class of their issues from last class. After playing once, the class played with a drone on each note going up the scale to reinforce tuning. The class then played an etude on C, D, and G major. Mr. Ghormley then waited briefly to allow the students to get out their music, which they all knew what it would be since it was written on the whiteboard. On their first piece, Adra, Mr. Ghormley started from the beginning and continued to play until there was an issue. He also addressed ways to hide bow changes and explained the way different textures were involved in the music. Mr. Ghormley used a metronome almost constantly throughout the rehearsal so that students would keep a steady tempo and so that he would be able to not conduct and focus on specific sections. Their second piece, Supernova, was rehearsed in a more fragmented fashion. The class started in various parts of the piece, focusing on balance and bringing out soli parts. Again, Mr. Ghormley used the metronome to help keep a

tempo. Since their concert was in a week, the class ran through both pieces as if it was a dress rehearsal. Mr. Ghormley shut off the metronome and also strictly conducted rather than giving any instruction during the run-through except what the students should think about when transitioning to the next piece. 5. Student response The students seemed to like Mr. Ghormley. Throughout the rehearsal, he would use humor and popular references to help the students connect with the music and stay engaged in class. All the students were attentive throughout, even when switching between pieces or between activities. 6. Effective instructional/classroom management techniques Fast, efficient tuning Expecting quiet and focus throughout rehearsal Using a whiteboard to tell what plan for the day would be High expectations not tolerating talking or distractions Use of the metronome to keep a steady tempo. Especially with a young orchestra, this is key to help students learn to internalize a tempo

7. Overall impression of the lesson I was very impressed by the run of the class. Not only was it organized, but all the students seemed very engaged and learning during class. Mr. Ghormley obviously has worked hard at finding methods in making the class run smoothly and effectively. It was also apparent that he worked hard at finding music that was at the correct level for this group. All the students could play the music, but even with only a week left, they were still able to learn more about being musical.

Symphony Orchestra 1. Grade Level and Type of Class (Choral/Instrumental/General) Upper classmen, Symphony Orchestra 2. Teacher and School Mr. Ghormley, North Central High School 3. Classroom set-up All the chairs and stands were set up beforehand. The cellos and basses (actual instruments) were on racks on the sides of the room. Most students carried in their violins or violas rather than getting them from a cubbie. In front was the conductors stand and podium. There was also a whiteboard on one wall that Mr. Ghormley wrote the pieces that would be practiced that class. The students dropped off their backpacks at the side of the room to keep the playing area clear. Students also were able to pick up their music in open cubbies in the classroom on one wall. 4. Description of procedures for the lesson/rehearsal (instructional goals and methods employed) The tuning process was much more concise, with only the concertmaster playing an A that all the instruments quickly and quietly tuned to. Mr. Ghormley focused mostly on subdivision and a sense of tempo with this group. Rather than using a metronome, he was more active in his conducting, and being more expressive with his conducting throughout the class. It was apparent that Mr. Ghormley was confident in the students that they had practiced their parts. He said many times during the rehearsals which sections to practice in a way that was showing what his expectation of the ensemble was. Throughout the rehearsal, very small sections would be rehearsed. These sections, sometimes as small as two or three measures, would be practiced multiple times with different groups of instruments (just violins, violins and violas, then full orchestra). This was effective in teaching the students when different sections came together, and when they diverged. Mr. Ghomrley again reinforced tempo often by stopping conducting to make the group listen to each other and rely on the section leaders to keep a steady tempo. 5. Student response The students all seemed to enjoy the rehearsal and were very attentive. They laughed when Mr. Ghormley made a joke, but always would listen to his critiques. Most of the time he would only rehearse a section two or three times before the section would grasp the concept, which showed that they trusted him as a teacher and musician. 6. Effective instructional/classroom management techniques

I think one of the most effective techniques Mr. Ghormley did was slowly adding groups into rehearsals. During these times, students would be studying their parts, which would make full ensemble rehearsals move much smoother. Also his ability to explain why certain passages were difficult and then give easy fixes was impressive. 7. Overall impression of the lesson Again, this rehearsal was very well thought out and executed. Mr. Ghormley is able to really understand where his ensembles fall short, and how to bring them up to the level he expects. It is apparent that he studies his scores and understands where issues will arise, and then is able to (seemingly) easily fix the problems.

Jazz Lab 1. Grade Level and Type of Class (Choral/Instrumental/General) All levels an even mix of each class, Jazz Lab 2. Teacher and School Brent England, North Central High School 3. Classroom set-up The classroom was set up with saxophones and guitars in the inner-most circle, the continuation of electric and bass guitars behind them, and on the outer-most circle the trumpets, who were standing, drum set, and upright bass. 4. Description of procedures for the lesson/rehearsal (instructional goals and methods employed) The tuning was individual, with Mr. England constantly checking each instrument with other instruments within that section. Mr. England had the pieces written on the board, and each student was expected to have their music ready to play when the music changed. At the beginning of each piece, Mr. England would use a metronome to set a tempo, but would shut it off before beginning the piece. Unlike the orchestras, there was not much conducting. Mr. England wandered around the sections giving small tips while playing, and relied on the rhythm section (drum and bass) to maintain the beat. When a section would fall apart, he would break up the sections into which parts were playing together, then slowly add the rest of the ensemble. During the times when only one section was being rehearsed, Mr. England would instruct the students to study their own parts. Most of the time, the sections were added from bottom (rhythm) to top (melody at that time). He would also add sections in by beats, sometimes as close to two beats apart. After he had all the sections playing together with correct rhythm, the class would discuss the style of the pieces and would experiment with different ways of playing the excerpts. 5. Student response All the students seemed to be attentive for most of the class. Mr. England spent a majority of the time focusing on the saxophone section, so at those times the class would become more distracted. They all seemed to enjoy Mr. England and respect his decisions and follow his instructions. 6. Effective instructional/classroom management techniques I thought his ability to converse with his students while switching between pieces allowed them to have a personal connection with the teacher, but Mr. England always had control of the classroom. He was also very skilled at adding sections together to help blend the ensemble. Mr. England also had a very strict schedule he adhered to during

rehearsal. Since they were a few weeks away from their concert, he usually focused on a few lines of each piece, but he would focus heavily and make sure the parts rehearsed were solid in each students mind. 7. Overall impression of the lesson I thought the lesson was effective in helping in smaller sections, but the transitions seemed to make it hard for the students to focus since each rehearsed section was only a few lines long. The ensemble definitely sounded better after each section was rehearsed and I was able to see where the final concert would end up.