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Ross Mappes October 5, 2011 MUS E131 Colloquium in Music Education Field Trip Observation Report WRITE-UP 1: Concert

t Orchestra When we first walked in to North Centrals orchestra room, I was impressed by how organized the environment was. There wasnt much dcor, none at all, actually. It was just a simple room with the essentials for an orchestra rehearsal. The room felt nice, open, and clean. The orchestra director, Mr. Craig Ghormley, seemed to have a really good sense of humor with his freshmen students. I was struck by his great sense of patience with the orchestra. If the ensemble wasnt doing exactly what he wanted, he remained calm and didnt get frustrated, something I find extremely admirable. Ghormley seemed to be very organized, and it was apparent that the class had a routine of what they did every day beginning with tuning, then warm-ups, then their current repertoire. The overall feel of the rehearsal was a mixture of a few things. Though the class seemed to be enjoying playing, Ghormley created a very hardworking environment. You could tell that he expected only the best from his students, and he was not satisfied until the best was performed. However, Ghormley was still laidback with his students and made sure they were having a good time. As far as the lesson is concerned, Ghormley worked on a few certain spots in the orchestras repertoire and worked on them until they met his expectations. For example, in the first piece Ghormley discussed smooth bow changes and how they were important to create a nice melodic line. After working on the passage slowly a few times, and by

the teachers explanation of how correct bow changes could be accomplished, the students had an idea of what was expected of them and performed as such. They improved after a few run-throughs, and it was obvious that they felt more comfortable with the music afterwards. At the end of the entire rehearsal, the kids had a better understanding of how the pieces they were working on could be more musical and artistic.

WRITE-UP TWO: Symphony Orchestra As I watched North Centrals Symphony Orchestra rehearse, it was obvious that Ghormley treated this ensemble with a different level of maturity, compared to the Concert Orchestra. I could tell right off the bat that he expected a lot out of these advanced players. When working on Griegs Holberg Suite, Ghormley used a variety of teaching strategies to get the best sound out of his ensemble. When discussing musicality in the first movement, he explained how its important not to punch the ends of phrases, but to instead make them more refined. To demonstrate this, Ghormley sang what the line shouldnt sound like and what the line should sound like. This gave the students a better idea of how they should play the passage. After playing the section a few times, an obvious improvement was heard. Repetition was often used to improve certain passages in the music. After playing certain sections multiple times, the kids seemed to get a better understanding of how to play it properly. After each repetition of a section, Ghormley discussed what was wrong and how the wrong could be improved. If there was no improvement after a couple of

times, he would have the students play slowly so that they could think more about what theyre playing. If the passage wasnt played to his satisfaction, he had them keep repeating it. I was astonished by the fact that the students didnt seem to mind playing the same section numerous times. I found it really great that all sections were working throughout the entire rehearsal, even if a particular section wasnt playing at the time. For example, when Ghormley was explaining that it was important to subdivide and not slow down, he woul have the violins and violas play the passage while the celli and basses counted sixteenth notes out loud. I found this very fascinating because so often in my high school orchestra, my director would work with the violins only and the low-stringed instruments would just be sitting there with nothing to do. By keeping all the students involved throughout the entire rehearsal. To improve intonation, Ghormley had the students play chords softly and slowly. This caused the ensemble members to really listen around the whole orchestra and make sure their notes are in tune. I noticed that compliments werent given out too often during rehearsal. Instead, a compliment was only given when the ensemble truly deserved it. For example, instead of saying that was good after every passage was played, Ghormley would say something like, we should really work on this. I found this to be a good teaching technique because sometimes directors of musical ensembles seem to give out compliments all the time, too much even. By Ghormley giving a compliment only when the ensemble truly deserved it you could tell that it meant a lot to the students in the ensemble knowing that they truly were doing a good job.

WRITE-UP THREE: Counterpoints Counterpoints, North Centrals most advanced concert and show choir, rehearsed in the auditorium. The students were a bit rowdy as they entered the auditorium, I assume because they werent in their usual classroom. Ms. Pat Wiehe, the Counterpoints director, didnt do all that much to calm her students down. Instead, she expressed her disappointment that they were talking so much. I believe this showed the true advanced caliber of the students: They knew that talking so much was wrong, and they knew that Wiehe was disappointed in them for talking so much. By expressing her disappointment, the students acted more focused. There werent any specific student disruptions that needed to be dealt with. Instead, it was more that the whole ensemble was talking together. Wiehe did not single anyone out, nor did she yell or scream at the singers. I believe this is because she knows just how advanced her students are, and she knows that they know that talking so much is inappropriate. I could tell that the kids did understand what was expected of them during this rehearsal. When they did talk, Im sure they knew they werent supposed to, and they stopped for a bit after Wiehe expressed her disappointment. Wiehe had a more laidback teaching approach, which I really admire. She didnt get frustrated with her students for being so talkative, and she didnt yell at them.