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comprehensive musicianship through performance

Nurturing Parental Involvement – A CMP Perspective Chris Gleason, CMP Committee Member

East Troy, Wiscon- sin, 1997 Middle School Fall Band Concert, the morn- ing of the perfor- mance: “Hi Dad. Yes, I’m ready to conduct my first middle school band concert tonight. I’m

going to use your idea of having a student read an introduction before we play the music. I just wrote an introduction for “Portrait of a Clown” by Ticheli using the program notes.” Later that evening as the student was reading the introduction at the concert she paused and said, “Oh, that is what this piece is about.”

I believe that parent involvement is directly related to the quality of your instruction. The amount and type of par- ent involvement will largely depend on your philosophy and values. The story above is a true one. My focus as a young music educator was strictly on notes and rhythms. My philosophy was to “train” the students and get them playing better as fast as possible in order to be a successful band director. My parent involvement was minimal. I didn’t see them as having any other role than to rent the instrument and to get the kids to school so I could educate them. Since that time my philosophy has changed dramatically, but so has the level and quality of my parental involvement. So what is different?

Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) has taught me that music rehearsals are not about mindless repetition and training, but rather a place for students to interact and fully absorb a quality piece of music. The goal is to still have excellent sounding ensembles, how- ever educating in a way that empowers the student to become a better musician and person. By developing quality knowledge,


skill and affective outcomes I am teaching so much more than I did in those earlier days. My students are more engaged, hap- pier and performing better.

So does using CMP mean that you will instantly have better parental support and involvement? No, not necessarily. How- ever, CMP lays the foundation of quality that will be needed. For example, it is difficult to share excitement and informa- tion about a great restaurant if the food is awful. So how do you do it?

Educate Parents About Great Learning in Your Classroom You may be thinking, “Don’t I have enough to do?” Yes, but you really need to communicate with parents in order to allow them “into” your classroom. If you are teaching in a comprehensive manner, then you most likely have A LOT that you could share with your audience about the journey leading up to the concert. Shar- ing these ideas is called “Concerts That Teach.” Consider these ideas:

• Hang posters, paintings, photo- graphs, sketches, reports and letters that your students create.

• Print poems, questions for the composer and student quotes in the program.

• Allow smaller ensembles to per- form different endings or variations that relate to a music concept you studied.

• Have the ensemble perform just the themes so the audience is more aware and “primed” to listen.

In other words, take the artifacts created by students and put them on display for the parents. Show them all of the learning that has taken place leading up to the perfor- mance or rather “informance.” This alone will show them that high quality learning is taking place in your classroom.

Go to the online version of WSM to see an example of a video created to display student projects before and during the concert.

Allow Parents to Experience What Their Child Does My colleague, Sharon Haraldson, has a great process of having our sixth grade band students teach their parents how to play some simple songs on their instru- ments. The parents then perform at our February concert. There are many benefits to this approach including – students learn- ing how to teach the fundamentals of their instrument, great bonding opportunity with child/parent, kids think it is fun and humorous, but most importantly, parents always say, “I never realized how hard it was to play an instrument.”

Educate Parents About the Process of Building Skill How much do you know about practice and building skill? Sure, we all went through college and practiced for hours on our instruments, but was it efficient and effective? I encourage music educators to read the book, “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle. The book simply breaks it all down and shows that …

“Every skill is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse – basically a signal traveling through a circuit. Myelin’s role is to insulate the circuit. The thicker the myelin gets the faster and more accurate our movements and thoughts become.”

The Talent Code – Coyle, p. 5 January 2012

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