Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Instrument Exploration Class

At Interlochen, junior and intermediate campers can take an elective class called Instrument Exploration. In this class, students get to learn a bit about and try a bunch of different instruments. Some instruments are only given one fifty-minute class period, so it can be quite a challenge deciding how to make the most of that time.

I was given the opportunity to teach oboe to this class. We spent some time talking about the reed, how to crow the reed, and how to form a good embouchure. I then had the students try some exercises along with Smart Music. I'd never used Smart Music before, but it's a really neat tool. The exercises in the method book I used were very simple (four quarter notes and a whole rest, then repeat). However, Smart Music made them more fun for the students because there was background music.

With such little time to give students their first exposure to the oboe, my main goal was to make it a positive experience. The students seemed to really enjoy playing along with Smart Music as a group, so I thought it would be a good idea to have each student play individually and "solo" along with the recorded track.

I asked who wanted to go first.


And suddenly....

This got quite a few laughs from the students, and one from me as well.

But after one student successfully performed alone, they all wanted to do it. In fact, they wanted two or even three times to do it.

At the end of the class, I asked what the students thought about the oboe. A lot of them said "it's really hard!"

But one girl said, "I really like it! It's my favorite!"

I was really glad that even one student had such a positive experience that she would consider playing the oboe in the future. These moments are what make teaching truly worth it.

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