With the cancellation of a marching band competition season decided by the Kentucky Music Education Association during the summer, local band students are being educated in an entirely new way, which is proving to have some advantages.
In the midst of the pandemic, students are concentrating on perfecting their musical skills with their instruments more than usual in grades 8 through 12. This creative new approach will benefit both in-person and virtual band student learning.
In the virtual study world, there are some positive quirks as band members dig even deeper by working through a course level materials book custom designed by Wayne County Band Director Andy Critz and Assistant Band Director Tyler Cook.
Students taking the elective music courses are benefitting from a unique grading level system curriculum that they are mastering at their own pace. There are ten levels for students to go as far as they can, while studying from home, remotely. While some students have returned to campus, they will continue learning music through the specially designed curriculum designed for virtual days or in person learning that focuses on the individual musician perfecting their skills, whether they play the clarinet or perhaps a percussion instrument.
“We’re working with them on an individual basis to make them even better musicians,” said Band Director Andy Critz. “In the long run, this is going to be good for our kids.”
The directors worked on the detailed visual ’how to’ course level material books the first two weeks of the school year, once they realized music students would not be able to learn the way they had in the past as they played their instruments together in the band rooms at the middle and high school. The wind section has 25 pages of instruction, while the percussion players have 100 pages in their booklet. They share the customized curriculum that deals with scales, octaves, and all kinds of notes with their students digitally where the keys of their Chromebook are utilized. They have met together through zoom meetings periodically.
“Not every student will accomplish ten levels, but it is up to the student regarding how much they push themselves to see how much they can accomplish,” explained Assistant Director Tyler Cook.
“This will help develop them individually and teach them how to teach themselves,” said Critz. “They are having to think on their own,” even though we are here to answer their questions and help them along the way.
“This is teaching them to think on their own,” stressed Cook. “This is forcing them to think how to do these things. The objective is to challenge their brains.”
The band directors agreed, they have to put the pieces together, so to speak, not just learn the pieces of music.
“This is going to help deepen the music intelligence of each student,” said Critz. “As a teacher, I’ve never been more excited about what we’re doing. This is a good fit for our students at Wayne County.”
“If every music student that graduates and completes six or seven levels of this, could go into any college band and be an asset to their program and earn possible scholarships,” said Critz. “In fact, we have a large amount of students that get large scholarships to continue their music education.”
Some of the most recent graduates that have secured music related scholarships over the past four or five years have included: Natalie Humble, Ben Rose, Halen Pharis, Tyler Cook, Taylor Cook, Elsa Dishman, Jaden Dishman, Stesha Keith (non-music major), Hunter Dixson, and Ben Duncan – just to name a few.
As in-person students are returning to school, they may be able to do some full ensemble practices. But, in any event, they will have a solid basis of music knowledge that they can keep for a lifetime.
Congratulations to Ethan Huffaker for being the first student to complete Level 1 of the Music Department's Grading Level system on Sept. 9
Summer Band Camp had an amended schedule due to COVID-19
Band students at attention
Assistant Band Director Tyler Cook, instructs students on marching to a rhythm
Band Student Graduate Halen Pharis worked with band students.