By Chris M. Bernotas
Some of the most important real-world skills that students need to acquire are how to think critically, evaluate and problem solve. We are lucky to teach and live in the world of arts where collaboration, problem solving and creative thought are the norm. These are the skills that we should be trying to help our students refine, embrace and develop. Using a musical performance rubric can be one tool in helping your students listen more critically when evaluating the quality of their own performance, or someone else’s.
As a conductor and music educator I spend a good amount of time researching the music that my students will be performing. I listen to recordings, search online for performance videos, read articles and sometimes talk to the composer about the music. While doing my personal research I began to think about how I am preparing myself, but wondered if I was preparing my students. Shouldn’t they be the ones researching the music, listening to recordings and evaluating the quality and interpretation? This thought led me to the idea that perhaps my students may not understand exactly what to listen for when watching a video or listening to a recording. Many times a student will say, “That was a good band” or “They were terrible.” While those reactive evaluations may have some accuracy on the surface, they do not show any true depth of understanding. It was time to help my students learn to think (and listen) critically!
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