Last Friday and Saturday, On January 12 & 13, I was able to attend the 2018 IMEA Educators Conference. Dozens of workshops and concerts were presented and I was able to attend many of them. I also walked through the Exhibitors Hall a few times and had conversations with a few representatives of companies there.
One workshop I attended was titled, Motivation, Innovation & Differentiation in your Beginning Band. Richard Canter,banddirector at Walnut Hills High School in Ohio, spent a few minutes telling the story behind a collection of small exercises (chunks) he developed in his work with beginning instrumentalists and then showed us how the "Scale and Rhythm Chunks" workbooks help new students.
The chunks workbooks are designed to be used individually (same instruments could play together) so the concepts presented are specific to the instrument the student is playing. The exercises are also quite short (4-8 measures), making them within reach for the player and quick for the director to evaluate. This gives directors like me a tool that can help students "where they are" (both technically and instrumentally). I've ordered a set for all my 4-7th grade students. I think they will encourage individual practice and achievement.
During the presentation, Richard asked for some volunteers. I'm always ready for that type of thing, so I helped him visualize why differentiated instruction is the right way to teach in certain instances. For helping, I got a t-shirt that says on the front of it, "I <heart> Chunks." Thus, the title. 🙂