I’ll confess: I am old school and often have to have students help with computer issues. Using technology for the sake of using technology is pointless. With that being said, there are several things that we can use to aid our ensemble rehearsals and give students some “ownership” of rehearsals, thus making learning more relevant.
You don’t have to have a suite of computers or tablets to use recordings. Using smart phones, students can record assignments and send these to you, providing evidence for portfolios and evaluations. Inexpensive mp3 recorders are also easy to use and files for these can e stored on computers for you to do better and more meaningful assessments. There are tons of recording apps for you to quickly and easily record part of a rehearsal; designing a lesson around evaluation becomes easy and you’ll see that students listening and playing skills increase when they know what to listen for AND they critique their own performances (you’ll probably find that they are brutally honest!).
If you have access to programs such as SmartMusic or sightreadingfactory.com, you can put full band examples on a projector for all to use (Smartboards are great, but not everyone can be fortunate enough to have one of these)!
Applications for tuning, metronomes, and ear training make using these much easier than they used to be (back in MY dinosaur days)! Musictheory.net, teoria.com are just two great programs that can provide students with many tools to help them become better musicians. Some of these can also be used for homework assignments (or in-class work) that can be emailed to the teacher, again providing you with more evidence for grading and evaluation.
Technology should be used to make our jobs EASIER, not make us work harder! Look for those apps and programs that can make your classrooms and rehearsals more efficient and more FUN!
About the Author
Dr. Jeffery Phillips is in his 29th year of teaching at Hendersonville High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where he is the Director of Fine Arts in addition to conducting the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band. He has also taught at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee and as adjunct trombone instructor at Western Kentucky University. He is in his 11th year on the Applied Music Faculty at Belmont University where he teaches the trombone studio and performs with the Belmont Faculty Brass Quintet. He has earned degrees from Middle Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University, and Austin Peay State University, and California Coast University. As a performer, he remains active as a freelance trombonist in the Nashville area performing with groups such as the Jack Daniels Silver Cornet Band, the Nashville Wind Ensemble and the Nashville Symphony. Phillips has conducted clinics throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi for students in middle school through college and is active as an adjudicator for music groups of all genres throughout the Southeast. In 2012, he founded the Sumner County Community Concert Band which he conducts. He has served as President of the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, served two years as the TMEA State Band Chair and served two years as the National Treasurer for the American School Band Directors Association. He was elected President-elect for the ASBDA and served the office of President of ASBDA for the 2008-2009 year. He is currently the President of the Tennessee Music Education Association. Phillips is also a Jupiter Band Instrument Performing Artist and Educational Clinician and performs on Jupiter and XO trombones and euphoniums exclusively.