Issue: Spring 2017


“Ukulele in the General Music Classroom”

he presented her unique pedagogy which begins with students learning strumming

patterns and one finger chords. Next comes singing rounds, then gradual expansion

into two, three and four chord songs. She gave suggestions for performance-based

assessment, written assessment and criteria for evaluating materials. She also

shared tips for how to teach blues and improvisation.


President’s Message

One of my goals as president is to increase the spirit of service to ILASTA. The board and I are examining ways to engage members in additional outreach programs which can help teachers and inspire students. One of the first projects is called ILASTA Instant Clinics. You can apply to have an ASTA approved clinician come work with your students. This can be in the form of a guest conductor, performer or instrument specialist. If you are an experienced teacher and would like to become a clinician, please contact me directly. If you would like to apply for a clinician, please apply on the ILASTA website.


Kishi Bashi Spring Fling Experience & More!

I was thrilled when I heard about a contest he was putting on called the “Kishi Bashi Spring Fling.” This was a contest geared towards high school orchestra programs. How cool! The premise of the contest was to provide sheet music of his songs for high school students to learn. The orchestras were to learn two of his songs, record a video and upload it to YouTube. At the end, Kishi Bashi would choose a winning school and perform at their spring concert.


Jullian Arron Ask The Expert Article

I don’t consider myself successful. I consider myself lucky and pretty good at it. My education was at Northwestern University, both undergraduate and graduate degrees, but I did two years of “student teaching” in my father’s studio observing him teach in the 1950’s, 60’s and even into the 70’s. He was one of the primo teachers here in the city, and for two years I spent about 25 hours a week in his studio observing him teach. I benefited from both watching and listening, and had a set structure and routine when I started teaching in terms of teaching materials and sequencing. That was very helpful and has worked out pretty well.


Naperville Students Help Elders to Remain ALIVE INSIDE

Alive Inside is a moving documentary that follows social worker Dan Cohen as he uses music to unlock memory in nursing-home patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The documentary inspired director Michael Rossato-Bennett to begin the Alive Inside Youth Outreach Program. “Making Alive Inside opened our eyes to the power music and human connection have to wake forgotten souls.


Garage Orchestra: A Non-Traditional approach to Summer Orchestra

Garage Bands are a non-traditional outlet for kids who want to explore a less structured style of musical expression. My Garage Orchestra originated 22 years ago, when I wanted a fun, non-traditional way for my students to participate in a summer orchestra program. There is a definite need for students to continue their musical education over the summer months, but I felt that it needed to be in a place that was not a typical classroom setting. The summer is a time when students want to relax and socialize with their friends. Why not have a program that can be both educational and also provide an opportunity for kids to interact with their friends and to create new friendships with kids from different schools?


Left Hand Technique Everyone All-Together

The early years of study have a long-term effect on a student’s musical trajectory. As teachers one of our most important decisions occurs before the student begins study, with instrument sizing. Frequently, beginners wrestle with instruments that are too big. When in doubt, choose a smaller instrument that fits the individual student’s physical frame. Narrow shoulders can support less weight than broad shoulders. Small hands should not have to over-extend to reach first position pitches. Then, we can use sponges, shoulder rests, and cello straps to help create a stable foundation so that the left hand is free.


Our Product Is a Certain Kind of Kid: A Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) Overview

As young music educators teaching performance-based ensemble classes, we prepared performances as our “product.” Later, we heard, learned or decided that the “process” was more important than those single concert event “products.” We may have spoken of the “product” as a certain sound the orchestra gets, the style which with it plays or the energy and professionalism of the live performance. Examining student learning outcomes more closely, even those products may have come up short, as too general, vague or unquantifiable. Enter more specific outcomes, like key signatures, scales, range, posture, rhythms or historical background. While these are worthy goals to have, many music educators have asked, “Is this all I want for my students? Isn’t a broad musical education about more than just performing well?”


Alton High School and Laura Plummer

Located about a short distance north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, Alton has been home to a thriving orchestra program for many years. The birthplace of Miles Davis, Jessie White and Paul Tibbets, Alton is also home to the Alton Symphony Orchestra, now in its 72nd year. Laura Plummer conducts the orchestras at Alton High School and also serves as the district’s instrumental music coordinator. We asked Laura to tell us a little bit about Alton and its orchestra program.


2017 IL-ASTA Awards

Nancy Jackson has been an inspiration to so many students and teachers during her long career as a Suzuki violin teacher and teacher trainer. For the last 25 years she has taught in Illinois, first at Western Illinois University and now at the Western Springs School of Talent Education. Her students consistently win local competitions and many have gone on to University to study music.