How do we actively engage students in lifelong music learning and participation?
1. By becoming aware of our teaching and instructional habits in the classroom.
Teaching “out loud” encourages teachers to put the ensemble right in the middle of the rehearsal process with you. To let your students hear you think, hear you question, and hear you search for a solution out loud in real-time.
Plunge into Learning
In class and through Distance Learning, I impress upon my students the importance and need to plunge into learning. It is through discovering, naming, and framing problems and challenges that students can find solutions – it is a dynamic process (Schon, 2016). When students are a part of the process and participate in my thinking and reflecting, they discover that they, in turn, have internalized the process, and now create a repertoire of experiences that are available for future learning (Schon, p.112-113). The rehearsals become a reflective practicum by which students receive experiences where they gain the ability to learn and create their own interventions.
Reflective Practicum is the key
It is like talking to your choir, as you would speak to a student-teacher during their initial lessons. I team teach with my student teachers for their first few weeks. While we are teaching, the student-teacher and I may take a quick time out and quickly discuss an important aspect of the lesson while the choir listens. This clarification does not take very long and allows the student-teacher (and choir) to get real-time feedback on a variety of topics and skills. Reflective Practicum is a remarkable teaching tool for both the student teacher and the choir as they learn from one another together.
My students are doing excellent work through Distance Learning. I believe this is because they feel (and are) capable and comfortable learning on their own. That is my goal – for me to step away and let them become an individual musician. If twenty years from now, my students are unable to help their child read and learn basic piano and music reading skills, then I have failed.
Students Thinking & Reflecting Out Loud
For our next concert (whenever that is), each choir will learn a song on their own. The catch is, we will never rehearse the song together as a choir. The first time we will sing the song as a group will be for our next concert. The video below is an audio recording that one of my sopranos submitted to Flipgrid last week. For this assignment, students describe how they will learn the song The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre on their own. I am very proud of Stephanie’s work. She provided an excellent overview and discussed several strategies she will use to learn the song.
Students Assessing Out Loud
This week, students will continue to learn The Seal Lullaby through Self-Sprints. Through Self-Sprints, students practice independently and work on trouble spots they identified last week. A vital element of Self-Sprints is the student’s ability to assess and reflect upon their learning. Below are three questions my choir members are accustomed to answering after an Ensemble Sprint, Sectional Sprint, or Self-Sprint.
During Distance Learning, my choirs now complete their assignments using Google Forms. Google Forms (and Google Video) are a great way to document, collect, and assess the students’ homework.
Concert Choir Self-Sprint #2 Form
How do I actively engage students in lifelong music learning and participation?
- By becoming aware of our teaching and instructional habits in the classroom.
- By teaching, thinking, questioning, and searching out loud.
Conclusion: Teaching Out Loud
When I teach and think out loud, the choir inherently become more engaged and energized in the entire learning process. I believe it is essential for my students to hear me think, question, and search for a solution out loud in real-time. As they become more aware of and participate in the dialogue between discovery and solutions, students internalize the process and establish a repertoire of experiences that will be available to them for future learning.
Leading Voice: You can Make a difference
Leading Voices Next Online Meeting
Our next online meeting will be held on Monday, April 27, at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, and will last for about a half an hour. If you are interested, you can email me at or use the link below to join the meeting. Our next topic, Distance Learning, and the ELT Experiential Learning Cycle.
Schön, Donald A. Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint, 2016.
Palmer, Parker J. COURAGE TO TEACH: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teachers Life – 20th Anniversary Edition. Place of publication not identified: JOSSEY-BASS, 2017.
Ackles, Brian O., 2018. Agile Development Instructional Framework (ADIF): A New Strategy for Student-Centered Music Education. Choral Journal, September 2018. Vol. 59, No. 2