“Challenge Your Clarinets” NYSSMA Clinic – December 6, 2013

ImageChallenge Your Clarinets

Teaching Music in an Ensemble Class



Today’s music educator must be able to teach using the New York Standards for the Arts, 21st Century Skills and understand the Common Core Curriculum.  NAfME suggests drawing on reference to music in the Common Core ELA Standards to connect music curriculums.   Works published on the Internet, such as the article from the Illinois Music Educators Conference by Tom Foust (January 24, 2013) helps give insight into looking for key words that align musical instruction with the Common Core.  All of this can be overwhelming until we identify what we teach in an ensemble class.

One of the first standards that a music ensemble fulfills is the ability for students to perform and participate – collaboration, adaptability, and initiative – all very important characteristics that connects all of these standards.

The second New York standard for the arts agrees with the 21st century skills list.  Knowing and using arts materials and resources and analyzing information using critical thinking skills are part of working in an ensemble.  The third standard that asks students to respond critically to a variety of works invokes their curiosity and imagination which fosters creativity.

The fourth standard will be very visible in the works that we will present today.  Helping students understand the cultural dimensions and contributions of the arts is easily understood when the students can play music from around the world and music from all centuries and in all styles.

Students who experience ensemble playing from an early age tend to develop quickly and persevere when confronted with difficulty.   Progression of musical skills does not develop equally in all students.  Using small ensemble music allows the music educator to use challenging music but give the student the part that is best for their ability.  Differentiation keeps all the students involved and gives them the ability to take pride in a work that one student alone could not accomplish.  Teamwork – communication and collaboration – are necessary skills needed in today’s workplace which can be developed through participating in a unique ensemble in addition to a large band or orchestra.

We are presenting music of different levels and styles to challenge your clarinet players, but the concepts can be applied to percussion ensembles, brass quintets or any other ensemble that will help you challenge all of your students.  Our literature is not necessarily found in the NYSSMA manuals but presents the ability to expose students to a wide variety of music.    Our handout includes a list of our clinic music, sources of music, and a list of clarinet choirs around the world.  We can help you with a repertoire list if desired.  Please feel free to contact us through the Internet, including e-mail, our Blog and Facebook, for any questions you think of in the future.  Links are on our website.  Many of our recordings are on YouTube.

Enjoy your students’ enthusiasm when you set up special ensembles as a lesson group or as an extra learning activity!


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