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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do your students know how to follow a conductor?

I have a concert coming up next week, and I have been thinking about my role as a conductor.  Do the students even know what I'm doing up there on my podium?   During class, I am much more of a teacher than a conductor and I don't think I have taught the students to watch and follow my conducting.  Before school today, I was thinking about how I could teach my class to understand the role of a conductor and how to follow a conductor.

I got the idea to play a game called family feud.  This idea came to me pretty last minute, so I didn't have much time to prepare, but I quickly downloaded the family feud powerpoint game template from this site:

Next, I edited one of the slides to say what I consider to be the top jobs of a conductor - (for my little beginning orchestras - I'm sure this list could have been more complex, but remember, this was for beginners.)

The students LOVED playing this game!  I split the class into 2 team and designated a spokesperson for each team.  I spoke to the class about my job as a teacher and also my role as a conductor.  I told them that I listed 5 of my jobs as a conductor on the game board - in order of importance.  The spokesperson conferred with their teams to decide on an answer to guess.  I gave each team one guess to see if they could guess any items from my list and they got 100 points every time they got a right anwer.  (I didn't worry about the whole 'Survey Says' bit.)  The winning team got a few M&M's.  In the real game of family feud, teams get to guess until they get 3 strikes, but we just alternated turns.

This was a great way for me to find out what students know about conducting and it helped them understand that I'm not just flapping my arms around!  After playing this game, students were really trying to watch and follow my conducting and I had them practice watching me and following me with scales....then on our concert pieces.

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