Ignite Response to Your Conducting
How IR is Organized
How IR is Organized
IgniteResponse (IR) is a How-To-Do-It book with a maximum of specific, step-by-step recipes, techniques and approaches...and a minimum of educational philosphy.
IR will work for teachers who: want a few general tips on rehearsing; are looking for sure-fire recipes for creating specific results (watching, sforzando, the ensemble taking your tempo right away); are unsure why improvements at yesterday's rehearsal aren’t there today, or; are frustrated that your rehearsing is missing something, be it: lack of progress, energy, fun...or if it just keeps feeling like a struggle. Help is here!
I’ve organized IgniteResponse in four parts
Part One (Books One and Two): Descrips the IR approach and its benefits; Kwik Start shows how easily you can get your students watching, marking, and following; finishes with a money-back guarantee.
Part Two (Books Three & Four): Covers the foundations of IR; creating, maintaining, and building engagement; Score study is lesson planning; specific techniques guaranteed to solve ensemble leaders’ Top Nine Challenges (including watching, following, marking, and posture, and such).
Part Three (Books Five, Six & Seven): Step-by-step, systematic instructions and procedures to optimize rehearsal results; specific techniques for solving rhythmic, tempo, dynamic, and espressive issues; integrating IR approaches into your teaching.
Part Four (Book Eight): A special section for student and new teachers to help create excellent musical results from the first downbeat.
PART ONE: Books One and Two
In Part One, you will understand the IR approach, have a quick experience of its effectiveness, and learn how to include IR techniques in your own practice to create and build students’ engagement, active involvement, and assumption of responsibility for their musical experience. These are the vital elements of everything that follows
Book One describes the IR approach, followed by three simple, easily applied Kwik-Start exercises. Using them, you will create quick, effective, and fun results with your ensemble in three priority areas: watching, following, and marking the music. A list of the results and benefits IR can create follows that reads like the table of contents of a conducting book that answers all your questions. I would think that if I hadn’t creating those results for more than 20 years. The following chapter explains why I wrote IR and it closes with a guarante of satisfaction.
Book Two explains the core concepts of Ignite response; they inform everything that follows. There are exercises so you experience each concept, rather than merely read about them. The first chapter emphasizes the need for teachers to be in the energized state that models the best condition for learning.
This central IR concept then follows: our students are our instruments. For example, we do not rehearse dynamics - we rehearse our students singing/playing dynamics: two completely different mindsets requiring two completely different approaches. Focusing on the students as musicians is the surest way to make great music. I need them to feel that what they are doing is important. And I do that by engaging their thinking process and making it central to the rehearsal process. I require them to be active, not passive participants in the music making process. I focus on their roles as learners more than my role as teacher.
The following chapter shows how to keep building engagement in every activity of every stage of rehearsing. The last chapter in Book Two describes how to communicate with your students so they do their best, so they trust and respect you, and so they understand your commitment to helping them do their very best. This is not all theory or philosophy to skip over. There are exercises that will ignite your ability to use the IgniteResponse approach.
PART TWO: Books Three and Four
These books are about preparing to rehearse and learning how to get your student to do veteran teachers nine top priorities. Your learning will be more effective in rehearsaw=ls if you read Read Part one and do the exercises. The exercises are like those in Kwik Start; they’re fun, easy, and they create results right away - to everyone’s delight.
Book Three Prepares you how to rehearse by identifying problem spots in the score, knowing what the exact issue is, and being prepared with the solution. This, rather than running through the music, then then stopping and going over what didn’t sound good. You’ll save rehearsal time, be respected more by the students, and feel better, yourself.
You’ll have taken the onus off score study by using it as lesson planning - not having to analyze it like you did in school. The score becomes our friend as it points the way to improvement.
Creating an effective section leader system - even at the middle school level - will make an astonishing difference in your rehearsing and lifting the burden of doing everything. The chapter goes deeply into creating a section leader system, including how to resolve conflict and how to use the system as a preparation for life for every ensemble member. Book Three concludes with a checklit - a kind of review of what’s been covered - but with a highly creative twist that works wonders: enlist your students to do the checking.
Book Four contains solutions to veteran music teachers’ nine top learning priorities as reported in answers to questionnaires from workshop participants over the last 20 years. These step-by-step techniques are tried and true, and are much-needed. Although they are veterans’ top priorities, music students are not taught in school how to teach these areas, and solutions are not provided in standard conducting texts. This is a perfect example of the need for Ignite Response to your Conducting. Pre-professional courses and texts provide the basics, but not how to apply them with ensembles. Marking, Watching, and following gestures are mentioned, but teaching students how to actually do these - and the veterans’ other six - is not covered. That’s why IgniteResponse is needed.
PART THREE: Books Five, Six, and Seven
Book 5 introduces a new and unique concept to music education: Rehearsal Stages. The componenet of each stage are described, as are techniques in each stage the build technical facility, intensify engagement, and prepare for the next stage.
Specific rehearsal techniques and ensemble exercises - tried and true - are described that create immediate and lasting improvement. More techniques for how to make sure each rehearsal goal is achieved. Shows how rehearsal process can meet students’ deepest personal needs. Having enough rehearsal time is about what you do with your minutes…not how many there are.
I ask for them to analyze their performance and mine. “Why did I stop,” I ask them after they play a passage. And it is up to them to figure it out. I know that if I do not wait for them to think and then answer, I am diminishing their capacity as learners. I know that meeting young people’s developmental needs through the rehearsal process can create significant, often dramatic personal and musical growth.
This Unit introduces an approach to creating the musical response you want from your musicians. Based on 20 years of research and experience, it contains strategies and approaches that have been tested and proven highly effective in diverse settings.
Book 6 contains specific instructions for creating rhythm-, tempo, dynamic-, and espressive-related musical responses. There are pedagogies and texts for how to achieve these response on instruments, but to my knowledge, none existed before IgnitResponse.
It appears that, in the absence of that knowledge base, conductors would ask for students to execute the response - play/singer softer, or with a subito forte, or more expressively, or to take the conductors tempop right away - but did not know how to teach it. The result was that the students were unable to execute what the conductor asked for, and the conductor, not knowing how to create the response, had to move on. In addition to the music being compromised, an undermining message was sent to the students: “You do not have to follow my directions.” Book Six enables teachers to achieve desired results.
Book Seven guides a teacher who wishes to integrate IR in her teaching on the way to do it. Using online forms for both short- and longer-term strategies, the teacher can adjust the stragegies to frequency and length of rehearsals, experience of group, repertoire, and other factors.
An important factor in phasing in some elements of the IR approach is the teacher’s willingness to spend some time studying the approach, and planning lessons based on a relatively minimal amount of score study. Additionally, the teach must be willing to do what she asks of her students: go beyond her comfort zone, try new approaches, and be willing to persist in the face of initial difficulties.
PART FOUR: Book Eight
Book Eight is for student teachers and new and early career teachers. Veteran teachers may find it useful when working student teachers. It stresses the importance of engaging the students before plunging in the music and gives exercises (and page numbers) in engagement that create attention and increase rapport between teacher and students.
Since new teachers can easily become a bit disoriented during their early podium experiences, there’s a chapter call RLYP - Rehearse Like You Practice - that gives the tyro a framework, a context, pointing out that rehearsing and practicing one’s instrument are very much the same.
The instrument (flute/band) has to be in tune (kids in tune = attentive, quiet); one needs contact with both (the violin can’t be played over there in the corner, and one has to be in contact with the students); all have to be engaged in the work to produce results; music challenges in both cases need to be rehearsed slowly; correct execution has to be drilled into muscle memory, etc.
Finally. the importance of experience over information is stressed, since new teachers can be hesitant to ask that music be repeated until it’s corrected, then drilled, then drilled by starting several measures before. He could tell his students to do that, but IR says, “If students don’t experience what a conductor asks for - if they’re only told - it’s a waste of time and breath. Worse - the students will stop listening when they understand that you don’t enforce what you say.