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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, April 6, 2009


The PMC Quick Note is a service provided to all area directors. It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest. The Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

A study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and math.

-- The Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappa, 1994

Success in Your First Years of Teaching: Some Helpful Advice by David Branson

The information found below was used with permission from Conn-Selmer. To see the source material, visit Conn-Selmer Keynotes online magazine.

You were recently hired for you first job. How exciting! Along with that excitement is likely some trepidation, and that feeling of "what have I done"? You are not alone most teachers have felt that way during their first few years of teaching. Where do you go from here? What are the next steps?

This article will discuss the following:
-- Basic knowledge all teachers need to know
-- Surprises encountered by many young teachers during the first year of teaching
-- Words of wisdom and advice collected from master teachers over the years.

To be a successful music teacher there is basic knowledge, skills, and attributes that you must possess and develop.
-- An outstanding understanding of music, and the music making process.
-- The understanding of music theory and music history to do score analysis as needed for your job
-- Fundamental understanding of child development, and how students learn.
-- Be organized, practice good time management, and have solid verbal and written communication skills.
-- The love of children and a positive outlook on the education process.

With these skills and knowledge you are ready to begin you teaching career. So what is next? Ah, the surprises that many first year teachers have discovered:
-- The job is much harder than it looks from the perspective of a student or student teaching
-- It takes a lot more time to be a successful teacher than might be expected.
-- A teacher is in a classroom by themselves with no one here to help out.
-- It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times by the tasks teachers need to complete
-- Working with parents is more difficult than expected
-- Finding time to be an advocate for your program when you are so busy

What can you do to be successful? Some sound advice for master teachers.
First, ask questions when you do not understand or are puzzled. There is a great network of other teachers out there to help you, talk to colleagues both within and outside your content area. A great lesson that I learned is that virtually everyone has good advice to offer, you just need to listen carefully, give thoughtful consideration, and filter the advice to fit your situation.
It is important that you understand that your school administration is there to support you and help you to become successful. Make decisions based on what is best for students, this will guide you well in your career.
Develop your teacher toolbox by observing other teachers and attending concerts. This will help you learn teaching techniques and music literature. Then only work with good literature, and always have specific learning objectives for every piece of music that you teach to students.

Be organized and work to always meet deadlines. Keep parents informed and talk with parents and students before the problems get too big. Parents are grateful for an early contact about any issues and will work with you to resolve the problem you and their child. Again, if your decisions are based on what is best for students you will be building an advocacy base for your program. Develop a handbook for your program that includes program goals and objectives, procedures, and a yearly calendar.

Be passionate about your work with students and your art form. The most important key to success is the genuine love of teaching of students, and the sharing of the beautiful art form, music.

David currently serves as the Administrator for music/art for the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada. He is responsible for coordinating all music and arts activities for the school district. He is responsible to coordinate all professional development training for the fine arts program staff. Prior to his current assignment David taught at Clayton middle school, Edward C. Reed high school  and other elementary schools in the WCSD.  Before moving to Reno, David served as music coordinator for the Livermore Unified school district in California as well as teaching Band, Jazz, Orchestra and Choir. He was also a part time instructor for Chabot College in Hayward, California.

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center

Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Mike Brown, and Jeromy Pope (417) 882-7000
Columbia Robert Pitts and Stephenie Algya (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock (816) 792-8301
Joplin Wayne Blades, Scott Frederickson, and Zach Houser (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Mark VanVranken and Tiffany Hanson (918) 770-6827


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