PRINCIPLE 6: ENGAGE IN
I LOVE REACTING TO students’ emerging efforts as they begin to assemble their ideas in fulfillment of a project. In their varied feats of creativity I see many of the same situations that all composers and arrangers must think about, such as the use of repetition, contrasting ideas, and timbre (instrument choice or orchestration, if you will). Other types of creative projects—podcasts, movies, web pages, multimedia slideshows, and so on—have conventions of their own to address. One of the most efficient ways to address particular issues with your students, who tend to work at varying levels of comfort and proficiency, is via one-on-one or small-group interactions built into instructional time. I call this “coaching.” The topic of coaching with regard to creative projects is huge. I employ coaching because I really enjoy this particular aspect of creative music teaching. But more important, I find that coaching makes a big difference in the level of student understanding and (as should come as no surprise) the quality of creative output. When I am consulting with a colleague who is experiencing some difficulty in carrying out a creative project with their students, I can usually trace it back to a problem with, or the lack of, coaching.
The relative length of this chapter speaks to both the importance of coaching and the many ways it can be carried out. Although I offer numerous suggestions and provide scenarios for this form of instruction, the goal of this chapter is just to get the ball rolling, to demonstrate the key role coaching plays when shepherding kids in creative musical endeavors.
Before turning to the advantages and methodology of coaching, I want to briefly mention two modes of learning that coaching is meant to complement: largegroup instruction and students working independently. The traditional “sage on the stage” teacher will lecture or demonstrate from the front of the room and then give a seatwork or homework assignment that students carry out on their own. While these pedagogical methods are fairly conventional, I do want to