Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!
Catching and keeping kids’ attention through music was never just a job for New York (US) native, Don Haudenschild, shown in my blog pic below.
Teaching music was his passion. You can hear it in his voice.
You can see it in his interaction with former students and musicians he currently works with when he plays trumpet in concert and Dixieland bands.
“I love music,” Don states the obvious, “and I really liked working with kids. There’s nothing better than mile wide smiles on students’ faces when they get a quality sound for the first time from an instrument.”
Don experienced his own first-time quality sound with his dad who he describes as an excellent trumpet player and “club date” musician. “My dad was so instrumental (no pun intended) in my development as a trumpet player,” recalls Don. In Lindenhurst, on New York’s Long Island where Don grew up, kids in public schools got to choose to be in band or orchestra when they reached fourth grade. “I chose band,” Don says.
He’s been part of a community of musicians ever since. Don remembers knowing from his first day in fourth grade band that he wanted to be a music teacher. He developed his art, won a high school music scholarship and was accepted at Temple University’s School of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (US) where he received a degree in music education. Don also studied trumpet in New York City under the renowned Roy Stevens. His training led to teaching contracts in Long Island public schools where he ultimately developed music programs at elementary, middle and high school levels until his retirement.
Don‘s completion of college and subsequent journey were not before he learned a powerful lesson that connects directly with attentionology: kids need to know how to commit to staying focused and on task. “When I first started to play the
trumpet,” Don says, “I picked it up and put it down, to the point where my dad told me that I had to make a choice – practice or not play!”
Don’s trumpet was put in the closet for a while, but when he picked it back up, it was a keeper. Look at the focus in Don’s eyes, playing trumpet in my blog pic here.
Don asserts that a child’s participation in band or orchestra, as early as in grade 4, opens up opportunity for academic success.
He cites research that shows that kids who are involved in band or orchestra in elementary and secondary school land in the highest percentiles on achievement tests. “Kids in music programs learn discipline,” says Don. “They know how to sit still and focus. These kids also learn that there are no shortcuts to success; it takes practice, practice, practice.”
His 30+ years teaching instrumental music has allowed Don to develop and practice effective teaching tools and tricks to help children learn and develop self-esteem. See how Don’s notes below resonate with your experience…
# Be inclusive – Use activities that promote inclusiveness. In a student band or orchestra, for example, everyone is an important part of the music team; there are no star performers.
# Enjoy yourself – Teachers that truly enjoy teaching stay fresh and exude excitement. Students catch the good vibes.
# Prevent burnout – Avoid too much repetition; explore new music (and other teaching resources) to keep kids (and yourself) on a continuous learning curve. (Says Don, “I mostly created my own curriculum and I enjoyed being a creative teacher.”)
# Reach wide – Approach your subject from many angles, from 360 degrees, to draw in students that learn in many different styles.
# Follow a mentor – Pattern yourself after a successful person in your field. (Don’s model was his high school band director, described in his words this way, “I liked him so much because he was energetic and fun; he made learning enjoyable. We kids didn’t even know that we were being taught!”)
# Structure counts – Learning experiences should be fun, but kids also benefit from structure; children respond to predictability. (Don’s basic lesson plan had three main beats for students to follow: 1) set up instruments, 2) warm up with scales, 3) participate in a prepared lesson.)
# Help kids feel good about themselves – It’s evident to effective educators that when kids are successful they feel good about themselves and vice versa.
# Command respect with care – It’s important to help children develop self-esteem, but teachers need to maintain a line of respect in the classroom that students know not to cross.
# Be available – As much as possible, be available to your students, but make sure that kids know that you’re their teacher, not a “friend.” (Don maintained an open-door policy. He welcomed students during lunch, for example, as long as it was okay with their classroom teachers. Don’s availability was especially important to students in special education programs.)
# Evaluate often – Take time to be certain that you’re reaching your objectives so that you don’t waste time.
Don’s never been one to waste time. He still keeps a busy schedule. In retirement he’s enjoying life in his new home in Southern California (US).
Don’s not nearly as old as the antique car near him in my blog pic below,
but he’s having a “blast” playing old and new music – jazz, Dixieland, swing – in a variety of bands in Orange County.
“Music is no longer a profession,” Don professes, “it’s my hobby and (still) my passion.”
He hasn’t lost touch with his teaching experience, however. Don tells stories about former students, now grown and with their own families, that find him so that their children can meet the beloved “Mr. H.” Don often hears former students tell him, “I’m so glad that you didn’t let me quit.”
“Music education is a lifetime skill,” Don knows this, “and we have to keep passing it on like the Olympic runner, from one generation to the next.” “It’s very cool,” he says. Yes it is…just like Don himself.
Thanks to Don, Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers gets to end 2012 on a high note, remembering that you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!
Happy New Year! Talk with you again soon,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet