Do I even have to say it? Another great #MusEdChat time had by all!

This weeks topic: What are the benefits of student leadership in the classroom/ensemble?

Being fresh off the college boat, I have found myself highly interested in student leadership because it’s what I’m most familiar with as far as teaching in a classroom goes as I was not an education major. For me, I have paralleled my student leadership experiences to the methods and practices of my music teachers and how they conduct their classroom and ensembles.

I had the opportunity to lead my chamber choir, and it became a challenge that I loved to encounter every week. How should I plan rehearsal? What vocal warm ups would be relevant to what we are going to be singing? Are there any tricky passages in the music that could be practiced in warm ups? How can I get everyone to connect to the music? How would my professor run this rehearsal? What can I bring to the rehearsal as an individual that is unique from my professor?

However, there were other sides to this challenge every week. How can I get my friends and peers to follow my direction? How can I teach them without coming off as bossy? How can we still get work done while still having fun? Why should they listen to me in the first place? Will my professor kill me if we don’t get everything accomplished? (Ok, so the answer to that is usually no, but I have a complex where I hate to do things wrong or make mistakes so naturally that question comes to mind!)

Regardless of the challenges I faced each week, both good and bad, I fell in love with the rehearsal process. Each week I was given the opportunity to lead, but what I was really obtaining was a chance to learn how to teach an ensemble. I loved planning rehearsals; especially how each piece required something different of me. I loved watching each piece grow and develop over time. I loved the teamwork and ensemble aspect. But mostly, I loved getting the ensemble to take ownership of our music together. (Seriously, I’m really intrigued by ensemble work if you couldn’t tell by previous posts!)

There were so many great questions and discussions in last night’s chat. Everyone’s thoughts on elected or appointed leaders were so interesting. I really loved hearing everyone’s views on the role of the teacher regarding good student leaders. A good point made by Justine Dolorfino- justine_robinit’s up to the instructor to create a good environment so student leaders are respected & not resented. I think that as teachers we should act as the “head master” of the group while still allowing them to explore, work together, and encourage each other on their own. It benefits to have someone actively oversee the process so the students can still be guided with advice and knowledge of their teacher while still taking ownership and responsibility of their group.

Some favorite quotes of the night:

  • thomasjwestThe best way to learn something is to have to teach it to someone else. Student leaders get to do that.
  • MrAhrens: Aside from the benefits to & within the ensemble, student leadership is a huge benefit 2 the individual student’s personal growth
  • rlinvI’ve had success with student leaders when they’re focused on the groups success (not who was in charge).
  • pisanojm We cannot simply strive for a majority of adequacy … leaders must know what better is and motivate people to break the mold.
  • MrAhrensLife is about winning and losing and growing in character through both. I think music teaches this well.
  • pisanojm Just because you are a teacher, doesn’t mean you are a leader or inspirational… we need to look at ourselves too.
  • pisanojm You can, many times, assess leadership effectiveness by judging enthusiasim, excitment, as well as goal obtainment.
  • pisanojm @LindsayMorelli All students should be “leaders” in that aspect.. the better player should want to help “serve” those that aren’t.

I also LOVED the idea of having a “Gig Day” for students to perform for each other! “DoremiGirl I let my students know that next class is “Gig day”. Students play what they practiced for extra credit.” What a great way to get kids excited about performing and supporting each other’s musical talents!!

So there you have thoughts on student leadership from a former student leader hoping to use those skills in her (hopeful!) teaching future!

Here is the transcript of the chat in case you missed it! If you are interested in getting involved in #MusEdChat check out – the chat is held on Twitter on Monday nights at 8pm EST. It’s a great deal of fun and knowledge from musicians and educators around the world!