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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alumni Spotlight

Name: Vincent Prinzivalli, Class of 2012
Endorsement Area: Instrumental Music: Band
School: Stonewall Middle School, Manassas, Virginia
School Population: 1100
Number of Students in Band: 300 (170 students in beginning band)

Biggest challenge so far: Administrative tasks that involve turning in reports by posted deadlines all due at various times. For example, there are reports to the administration, to VBODA, and to the school district arts office to name a few. In addition, letters have to go home to parents regarding field trips to our music assessment. We are also taking a trip to Kings Dominion where we will perform for contest. We also hosted all-county band and that required a lot of organization and paperwork as well. Finally, it was tough trying to get to know all the students and figuring out who they were. I had to rent out about 100 school instruments at the beginning of the school year. Fortunately I will know about 70% of the students next year because they all pretty much plan on staying in band.

Best thing to happen so far this year: Kids are staying after school to practice and often stay until 5:00 pm for what have come to be known as Practice Parties. This is definitely new and was not a part of the culture prior to this year. The administration and other teachers in the department are real happy to see this and support this 100%. More importantly the students are excited. I remember at the beginning of the year the eighth graders struggled to play a Bb concert scale together. There was no formal system in place for teaching rhythm. I have been using an amplified metronome and the rhythm cards that we learned about in the Instrumental Methods class on a regular basis. Now the students can perform their music with much better precision.

Advice for undergraduates pursuing a career in music teaching: Don’t complain, show up to class, and pay attention. Don’t take the education classes for granted. Even though there are times some of that information seems dry or boring, it really is important to know about teaching diverse populations of students. My principal was really impressed when he discovered that I knew about IEP, AYP, NCLB, and other trends in education practice. In addition, don’t lock into any one idea of what it is you think you will be teaching. For example, don’t just think you will only teach high school band or elementary school band because you never know what skills you will need to fall back on. I think another important bit of advice is for music education majors to start networking with each other as well as teachers in the area as soon as possible. It’s really important to be personable and get out there and shake hands. It’s not enough to think that you can just sit in a classroom and figure out how to teach. You have to learn by doing, that’s definitely a big part of it, applying what you learn in class to real world teaching situations.

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