We are excited to share some of the exciting happenings in Band at Prairie View on Instagram. Look us up: pvmsband
Well, the temperature is cooling off and the last few "nice weather" days that make us long for summer are upon us but as the season begins to change, things are just heating up in the band room at Prairie View. We are very much looking forward to this school year and all of the opportunities that it promises. Here are just a few:
May is always a busy month for band at Prairie View but along with the business comes many successes! I too the video off of the main page, but wanted to keep it posted somewhere so....here is the video recap of the 2016 Memorial Day Parade rehearsal with the Sound of Sun Prairie:
On Friday, May 29 the PVMS Percussion Ensemble performed "Tubz" by Josh Gottry at the all school assembly. It was a great performance-be sure to check out the video below!
As a follow-up to my earlier post about practicing, I'd like to share some smiles!
Perhaps the biggest lesson I re-learned at the Midwest Clinic is that the goal of any sort of music making should always be making music! Music should never be a "chore" or something that anyone feels like they "have to do." Sure, there is work involved in developing technique, but the goal should ALWAYS be self-expression!
Just to prove that anyone can understand the intricacies and subtleties of how to express themselves through music at any age and any skill level, check out this video. I promise it will make you smile!
Practice is important...there is no doubt about that! Science is just starting to show us that many of the talents that we once though had much to do with an individual's genetics might actually be within our own control. Much of the research done today is starting to show us that people who are good at building skills are also good at practicing those skills in an intelligent manner. These people don't actually work harder, instead they work smarter.
in his book, The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle referred to this method of practicing as "deep practice." According to Coyle, "Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways--- operating at the edges of your ability, making mistakes-- makes you smarter. Or to put it in a slightly different way, when you are forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them, you end up becoming graceful without you realizing it."
Additionally, I recently attended a clinic at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic that provided some further insights into the practice mystery. One thought that I found intriguing at this session was the clinician's thoughts about the use of time in practice. Music is one of the only subject at school where students think about their "homework" in terms of time spent on a subject. In most other subjects, students are asked to complete assignments for mastery, however, when students practice their instrument, there is usually a timer going in the background. (or at least in their head) This makes the primary goal of practicing to get to the end of the activity.
My major focus as we return from winter break will be helping students begin to shift from time-focused practice to goal-orientated practice. I would much rather encourage students to practice for 5 minutes and actually work toward a specific goal in their playing than to see them practice the same passage for 45 minutes without actually thinking about what they are doing. We will be helping students learn both how set specific, obtainable goals and how to best use their practice sessions to meet these goals over the coming months.
The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle
UTA's Center for Musical Learning
So, last weekend I stumbled upon a picture that got me thinking...well technically it was a meme. You know, one of those pictures taken completely out of context with words over the top that are intended as a witty reaction to something that most people deem as common sense? Well, this particular meme looked like this:
Now before I go too far, let me clarify; the band room is a big place-one of the largest classrooms in the school. In fact, in just two days of school, just about half of all the students at Prairie View will make their way in and out of the band room-stopping at lockers to drop off their instruments, conversing with friends, practicing (yes, it DOES happen often!), and making music together. As with any space where a large amount of people pass through on a daily basis, there is usually a rather large collection of "lost & found" items in the band room at any given moment. Throughout the school year, it is almost inevitable that almost everyone will find that one of their belongings has relocated to the "lost & found." It is also inevitable that at least one person will use the phrase, "someone stole my ________."
Maybe it is just human nature. Maybe we are hard-wired to come to the conclusion that when something has gone missing, it obviously has to have been stolen. Maybe it is a symptom of a society that seems to grow less and less private with each passing day. Maybe the student in question's belongings actually were stolen. No matter what the reason may be, however, it is almost a guarantee that the next statement from us will almost always be "have you checked the lost & found?" Now, I'm not going to deny that theft exists or tell you that there are not people in this world that do not evaluate their own moral compass before acting; however, the student in question usually finds what he/she has been looking for in the "lost & found."
So what does this have to do with music?...
Being a musician is all about habits. From the moment our beginning 6th graders first attempt to produce a sound, students in band are busy acquiring new skills by changing and adapting their habits to the needs of their instruments. They are adapting their listening habits to adjust to the unique circumstances of the ensemble and modifying their reading habits to comprehend the unique musical notation that they must learn to read. Students are also building habits that go much deeper than their musical skills. Students are learning to work collaboratively with others, learning to set a schedule to balance their practice time with their homework time with their recreational time, learning to take responsibility for their lesson schedule and attendance, and learning to use their available resources to troubleshoot their own problems when things don't go the way they expect.
I've had several students ask me "Why don't you just put my lost _______ away for me? You know my locker combination!" I really feel that doing so would be a disservice to our students. We teach so many essential life skills through music and almost none of them can be found in our curriculum...and they definitely do not belong there. Music does not exist to help our students organize their time-but through the study of music, our students DO learn just that. This is one of the core principals that the Sun Prairie Band Staff is truly committed to achieving. Learning a band instrument in Sun Prairie is really about learning to be successful in life.
Mr. Kading, one of the Sun Prairie High School band teachers, always tells his students, "my goal is to not be needed." As teachers, I think we all want to feel "un-needed." To feel that we have given our students the skills that they need to become independent learners. Of course, we will be there to catch, comfort, and reassure students when they fall-after all, we're all human. But there is no greater satisfaction for us than to see one of our students begin to connect the dots and to realize "maybe I can figure this out after all!"
Last week, the High School and Upper Middle Schools held their first concerts of the school year and both of us had the pleasure of attending. Now, first off, it is a great feeling to be able to attend a concert without having to be the one orchestrating all of the "magic." Don't get me wrong, we love putting on concerts at Prairie View-they are such great testaments of the power of young people to truly come together and accomplish something great, but sometimes it is rewarding to simply show up and offer your support to the performers on stage. Personally, there are few things that make me happier than watching the students that used to frequently visit me in my office at Prairie View grow up and develop their musical craft into something that is so much deeper than they ever would have imagined in sixth grade band. What astounds me is the amount of growth and progress that these students make in such a relatively short amount of time in their lives. What is even cooler is hearing about those students who, after years of struggling to 'figure it out' (not always a term that I enjoy using), finally start to dig in-to take their instrument home, practice, and reap the rewards of putting in some extra time on the instrument.
Someone once asked me, "why on earth do you perform SO MUCH where you teach?" Initially, I was kind of taken back by this question. While it is true that putting on 4 concerts, Band-O-Rama, Honors Band, and a multitude of other performances is a considerable load of work, there are so many great benefits of having so many performance opportunities in a given school year. For one thing, it gives our students tangible goals to work toward as they progress on their instrument. Our students always have something to shoot for and it lets us teach students to become goal-orientated-to set their sights on the target and to work toward it. They may not always end up where they expected but that also gives us a chance to re-evaluate and to set new goals moving forward.
Multiple concerts also gives us as band teachers an opportunity to craft the best possible experience possible for students. I just got done rehearsing with the Sun Prairie Middle Level Honors Band and this year, we are proud to bring Patty Schlafer to Sun Prairie to work with the select ensemble. I had the pleasure of observing Patty's work last summer at UW-Whitewater's Middle School Band Camp (a great camp in the area, FYI!) and I have to say that she is a fantastic and engaging educator. I am excited that our students will get the chance to work with her. So for all you parents out there, thank you for clearing your schedules to make way for your student's band concerts, for driving your student to and from those extra rehearsals, and for supporting your student in band. We promise that your student's time will always be worthwhile!
Two weeks ago (has it really been that long?!?!) the seventh graders performed at the Fun Run. To be honest, this concert is always a rush to get ready for because it happens almost immediately after the school year kicks off. Students have just come off of a several months of summer and (let's be honest) practicing is not always very consistent during the warmest part of the year. It is also a major logistical undertaking for us to take on as teachers during a time of the year where the phone seems to ring endlessly and the emails seem to pour in by the second. Even with all of these challenges, we love this event for several reasons:
1) The fun run is a chance for the seventh graders to kick off the school year with a positive, high-energy performance. It really sets the tone for what is to come in 7th grade band and sets the bar for how much work students can expect to put in and the great results that they can expect to gain if they are consistent about their practice.
2) It is a great way for students in band to connect to their peers through their instruments. Who doesn't love a little bit of positive reinforcement from the people we spend most of our day with?
3) It brings the entire school together. Specifically, it shows that there is a place for everyone at Prairie View! With such a diverse range of students walking our halls each day, we feel that it is important for every student to feel welcome and a part of the school community.
The fun run is also indicative of something much larger. Something that we are especially proud of here in Sun Prairie. For us, the 7th Grade Band's performance at the Fun Run is also a prime example of how the arts and athletics can not only exist harmoniously side-by side, but proves that the two disciplines can actually find common ground. Band and athletics are actually a lot more similar than one might initially think-specifically with regard to team sports. When students are a part of a team, they must learn to overcome their differences and work together to achieve a common goal. They must overcome their sense of what is good for myself in favor of what is good for the group. Being a part of a musical ensemble asks many of the same things! I frequently ask my students to imagine themselves on a football field-you can have the best quarterback in the NFL but he will not get to the Super Bowl if the rest of his team is not pulling their weight. (not to mention any specific teams...cough...cough) Similarly, a band will only sound as good as each individual member allows. This common ground between performing music and athletics is something that, in my opinion, is not is often overlooked.
I have worked with so many students here in Sun Prairie who participate in both band and athletics activities on a regular basis. We are so fortunate to live in a community that truly understands the value of the arts, athletics, and academics in the lives of our students.
Here at Prairie View, we are so excited about some of the great changes to the Sun Prairie Band Booster website. The new format is going to allow for more efficient communication and a more visible and user-friendly online presence for the organization. We are also excited about the opportunity to have the chance to blog about band at Prairie View.
While the spbb.org website is set up to present the Band Boosters, the Band Foundation, and the Band Department in a formal manner, this blog is meant to shed light on the human side of the program. You can expect to find success stories, recaps from daily events, practice hints and other resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and much more from us here. We'd like to keep this space somewhat informal to give you a chance to experience the day-to-day "treasures" that make our jobs truly the best on the planet! (after all, why should we keep that to ourselves?) This is also our chance to share the great things that our students do on a daily basis with a much larger community.
With that being said, there are much better resources out there if you are looking for information about concerts (school district calendar), upcoming events (spbb.org/newsletters), grades (Infinite Campus Portal), etc. Please do not expect us to publish a consistent or reliable schedule on this blog-that;'s not what it's for. Instead, come prepared to laugh, to be amused, to discover, and to enjoy. It's going to be a great year and we are truly excited to be a part of something so amazing here in Sun Prairie!
Mr. Quaglieri and Mrs. Sederquist teach 6th and 7th Grade Band at Prairie View MIddle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. For more information about Sun Prairie Bands, please click on the links above.