Are you preparing for a school chair audition or youth symphony audition? 

Audition preparation and knowing how to practice is the key to success!

If you are a teacher-please share this with your students.
Are you making these mistakes or are you on the right track to a great audition? Read below:

Start preparing for the audition early!
There is no better feeling of walking into a music audition well prepared and confident. The level of preparation will affect your performance greatly. Start months before the audition. Do not leave preparation for the last days when you are already getting nervous and pressed for time. During the last weeks before the final day, you must have the piece ready and just polish them, not try to learn the notes at that time.

Don't underestimate the scales when preparing for audition
Most audition requirements will ask you to play a scale to start with. In some cases you choose your own scale. If you are more advanced, you may have specific sets of scales you have to learn. It is a misconception that scales are not important. This is where the judges will look for your sound! They will get a feeling of who you are as a player. They will use listening to the scale to get informations about your techniques, your ability to shift to higher positions, and general level of advancement.

Also, starting the audition with a piece that is well prepared and you play well will make you comfortable playing the rest of your pieces the best you can.

This is the very first impression you will make - make it count.

When practicing scales for your audition be careful about:
  1. Practice beautiful sound. Often students want to play very fat and underestimate the importance of good sound.
  2. Focus on even sound. Watch that going up on the scale you don't loose the sound. Watch that you connect he notes. Practice making a crescendo to the top of the scale.
  3. Practice the shifts of the scale a lot. This will make or break your audition

Prepare for sight reading 
Sight reading is often an audition requirement. The trick is practicing sight reading often so you are comfortable with the process.

I wrote this detailed post talking about the importance of sight reading and how to practice it effectively. You can read more details about how to go about it.

Sight reading is often an audition requirement. The trick is practicing sight reading often so you are comfortable with the process. 

General rule when picking music to sight read is that is below your playing level. This could mean picking up your own method book, older or easier pieces. Talk to your music director for suggestions.

You need to check out Sight Reading Factory It is an excellent site for sight reading! The site generates different sight reading activities based on your playing level. You choose the instrument, instrumentation, and the level you want the sight reading to be. This is a GREAT home work out! 

Play your audition repertoire for as many people as possible
We all have experienced situations where everything sounds great in the practice room, then it all falls apart when playing in front of others. Don't make that mistake as you prepare for this audition. Schedule times to play for your friends, teachers, family members.  This experience will help you know where exactly to focus your attention. You will be closer to preparing for a successful audition.

Don't just practice the notes
Regardless of your playing level or whether you are a beginner or a very advanced student, all music directors will be watching for good tone, intonation, rhythm, style and dynamics.

When auditioning for orchestra or band - rhythm and tone are most important! These are the aspects affecting the whole music group. Make any effort to be consistent with these two aspects of your playing. Again, play for others to check if what you are doing is correct. See if you can find a friend hear you play and act as a judge. If you are auditioning outside your school, then your school music director will be of great help to you.

Don't just practice for your audition - know how you will be judged!
Most music directors and judges will have a rubric, or a scoring sheet with specific aspects they are looking at. Having a scoring sheet helps them especially when hearing many musicians on the same day. It is very wise to practice with this in mind. See if the organization you are auditioning for has the scoring sheet posted on their website. If not, you can shoot me an email-I will be happy to send one your way. Practice scoring yourself. Record or videotape your performance and score it using that scoring sheet. This way your preparation will be more accurate.

Found this helpful? Before you go, take a minute and share this post with your other music friends!

Prepare Your Classroom for Success! 
Plan Your Lessons for Maximum Retention! 

 I was just talking to one of my interns at the university about teaching and retention ideas. We were discussing the best ways to develop strategies for a note reading class. She asked me what activities I would suggest to help students retain information and develop better note recognition skills. Even though we talked about different activities, the main idea I had for her was consistency. We focused on just one activity. When planning for retention and best lesson plans, keeping your ideas consistent is the best strategy. We both liked it because it was simple, engaging, and the kids responded well to it. She did it consistently for a number of weeks. As the kids started improving, we shortened the time for this particular activity and eventually kept it as a review. The kids improved very fast and they were able to understand and retain the information well.

A teacher can help the students retain the information by designing the lessons in a way that students are consistently engaged and they get to review the material as often as possible in may different ways.

Here are the questions I ask myself when I analyze my lessons to optimize student retention:

1. Am I doing consistent review?
The biggest secret to student retention is simple- do lots of review!
I spend the very beginning of each class reviewing what was previously taught. Most times I do this by simply questioning the students.  We review the old material a bit every day. At the same time, as one concept gets polished, the review of that concept needs to gradually fade until the teacher no longer has to come back to it. I add new questions for review as we get more advanced. I drop older ones when I feel the students are solid with the knowledge. 

2. Is my teaching engaging? 
I try to engage students in movement. I also try to change the pace of the class consistently to keep their focus. If my students are not interested in what I am teaching, they are not going to be interested in learning it!

3. Is there consistency in my lesson plans or am I jumping form one idea to the next too soon?
Again, the review activities are very important. If the students are not able to go back to the previous concepts or material that means that I have moved on too soon.

4. Am I active in the classroom?
Nothing can replace the teachers actually teaching. Getting in front of the class, modeling and guiding the students is a key.

5. Am I making connections for my students?
When working with very young students I have the students play more and save the explanation for their parents. However, working with upper elementary, middle and high school students is different. They need to know why they are practicing a specific skill. Every time I take the time to explain why exactly I am asking them specific things, they respond much better. 

6. Am I providing more that one way to learn? 
Difficult concepts may require that students see it visually, hear it orally, get peer to peer tutoring, etc. I need to make sure that I am reaching to all types of learners in my classroom.

Teachers also need retention of all teaching ideas:

And last you may think...this is harder to do when in applying in an actual classroom! You are right! Teaching is so much harder that writing about it. You have to be flexible with the unique situation you are in. It is also so much more complex in today's educational system. Yet, designing lesson plans in a way to improve student retention rates is possible and takes only a bit of extra planning.

If you have a specific situation you would like to share, please feel free to write a comment or in a direct message

Extra Resources:
Humor and Retention
Find different articles in this post, directed toward parents, general classroom and music classroom Easter game ideas!

Easter festivities can be a wonderful opportunity for parents and teachers to fit more learning into the every day activities. Children are very much involved in Holidays and family traditions. Using that as an educational tool can help them greatly with motivation to learn.
Find different articles in this post, directed toward parents, general classroom and music classroom Easter game ideas!

As a teacher, I love using Easter eggs to develop educational activities for my younger students. You can do so much with them! I often use the plastic eggs they sell at all stores around that time of year. They are unexpensive, available everywhere around Easter, and full of possibilities. Depending on the goal I wish for, the eggs can be filed with different challenges, different prizes, or they can be the base of creating a game.

Easter Educational Fun at Home
I wrote an article where you can find some games you can play to nurture love for learning and practice skills in a fun way. Please take a look below.

Music Easter Ideas
As a music teacher I simply love using Easter games around that time of the year. These are always very effective for my students up through 6th grade. However, an older student can also appreciate some fun when learning. It is also a time of the year when students need a change of pace in order to stay motivated. See activities for classroom use or home practice below.

Easter Assessment Games in Regular Classrooms
Creating a game with exit ticket or an assignment where the challenge is put inside an Easter egg is jus an Eggsellent idea for elementary students. This is very simple to do and can fit any subject. The students can have an egg hunt in the classroom with different challenges inside the egg. Or they could simply receive an egg, if they complete the challenge, they get to keep it. 

Have fun! Happy Easter!

Don't be in an eggshell! Get other ideas!
No spam ever, just great tips!
Hello! Time for this busy teacher to get a break! Right? I just came back from a meditation, yoga and hiking trip to Zion and Bryce National Praks. I visited Southwest Adventure Guide Retreat Center and I had the time of my life there! I felt I didn't pay enough for the retreat based on what I got in return!
As I am back and working on my new posts, I am thinking, how about a teacher retreat? Not the ones that tell you how to teach but one that helps you preserve yourself at the core as a teacher?
We have yoga retreats, hiking retreats, trekking retreats...but for one of the most draining professions no one has come up with an effective way to recuperate yet. I have written a lot on this blog about fighting break up your routine and prevent burn out and protect yourself as a teacher at the end of the year.

But there is nothing better for a teacher that simply taking a few days off!!! We all need it at the end of the school year! Turning off everything that has to do with work. That means no emails, no lesson planning on the side, no answering emails. Simply take the time to "not be a teacher"  for jus a few days.

In terms of preventing teacher burn out, I will be writing a short post asking some of my readers to participate in an experiment in the next two weeks -you will be provided detailed guidelines to look at the positive in your work day for 2 min every day. The results will be a case study and a way for both of us to help and support each other, attempt to ease the stress of the school year while seeing if my ideas are indeed working:) If you teach and if you might be experiencing a harder time at this particular time of the year - PLEASE consider giving me a hand with this! If interested, please shoot me an email at

Now for the fun part, the pictures:

Don't miss any posts
Welcome to the 57th Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors! This week, we are excited to be including a Facebook Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms.  


Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books


Pragmatic Mom

Music, Teaching and Parenting

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough


Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Kid Lit Blog Hop & Linky Party Rules *Please Read*

1. LINKY PARTY: Add the link to your Facebook fan page in the Facebook Linky Party list below. Be sure to visit at least the two links directly before yours as well as your hosts' Facebook fan pages. Be sure to like pages that interest you and show your colleagues some love by liking or sharing one of their posts. 2. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Link up any Kid Lit related post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.
* Don't link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*
* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *
* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*
* Feel free to link more than one post.*
3. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS from the Kid Lit Blog Hop directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you're linking up. If you'd prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!
Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop/Linky Party? If you've joined us before, you are welcome to join us again! Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.
Happy Hopping!


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A Short Post on Frustration with Children

I just finished a long day and my teaching today made me think about ... frustration. And balancing out the positive and negative so that we always keep things in perspective. Sometimes it is so easy for us adults to get frustrated with kids. It happens all the time in the process of learning in stages of life-as a parent, teacher, or as a child. How often do we have frustrations outside our family only to come back home and to be faced with chores, more work or more frustrations. Often allowing children to grow means that we need to be strong. Some days we all feel that we are the child who needs support and understanding.

Now think, how easy really it is for us to over react when talking to children?

When you are frustrated, how do you behave at home? Do you take that frustration with you, do you talk about it, do you expect others around you to act differently?

Also, is there really a right answer? Probably not as we are all in the process of learning. It just the awareness of our tendencies that will help us re-direct our thoughts. 

Next time, when I get frustrated, I will appreciate somebody around me for something they do well. I will let positive emotions balance out the frustration. 

How about YOU?

Projecting a feeling of confidence and fun a recruiting session or presentation is THE secret to getting students interested in your program.

How do you do that?

Here are the steps you must take:


Treat the recruiting presentation as a concert performance! Think about the importance of recruiting for your program and don't underestimate this event. Really rehearse it with the students! Let me say it again...rehearse with your students! This will affect the energy level of your own studets presenting. The difference between shy students and confident students can be the difference from recruiting small numbers to having a large program. Children are incredibly intuitive. They feel the energy and enthusiasm in adults and older students much more than they internalize what the adult is saying. They will go by that feeling and most will make a decision based on it.

How many of us have asked students to speak in front of a crowd? They are enthusiastic to do it, but when they actually get the microphone get very shy about it. It happens to everyone. Now imagine having a students play a concert without practicing and rehearsing...this would be a laughter moment for any music teacher. So why do we put so much into the music preparation but then expect our students to simply "be good at" everything else? The way we rehearse every aspect of a music performance, we must also rehearse every aspect of a recruiting presentation.

Feeling of personal touch!

Have students smile and if possible get closer to the students. Making the incoming students comfortable with you as a teacher as well as the students in your program can do wonders in recruiting. Again if a students talks about your music program, rehearse it. Make sure that they are able to convey their message with fun and enthusiasm as opposed to being shy and nervous on stage.

Many students feel aprehensive about going to a new school. This is very natural. Providing a sence of security and feeling that the students will be supported in your program can be a good way to make others pay attention to your music class. This is what distinguishes a music program from the core classes. It is important that this is expressed in a recruiting presentation.

You can enhance that idea by having your students talk about the program with a message that focuses on the support and team work students experience in your music class.

Getting ideas directly from the students!

Often the students will give you the best recruiting ideas based on your school and dynamics within the school community. They know the younger kids, know they act and what they would like. Your own students can give you the best advice about scheduling a recruiting presentation. Simply asking them "What do you think we can do to grab the younger students' attention" could start a discussion and a plethora of ideas. Come up with ideas as a class, talk to them and listen to their opinions. If your own students are excited about the presentation, this will excite the incoming students as well. If your own students do not feel strongly about the message they are conveying, it will be very difficult to convey that message to the younger students as well! Get more ideas about scheduling an exciting presentation here.

Use key words

When preparing for your introduction and what to say to the students in a recruiting presentation, try to use Use key phrases that younger students like and will be drawn to. These are:

Making Friends 

Other Posts on Recruiting for Orchestra and Band You Might Enjoy:
Recruiting for Band and Orchestra
Four Tips for Recruiting Even More Students

Are you having trouble with your recruiting or do you need somebody to "run your script by"? This is why this blog was created. Do not hesitate to drop me a note.

Not sure about what to do or have a question? Feel free to leave me a comment or contact me directly!

Don't let great posts fly by you!
No spam ever, just great tips!
Recruiting for your band or orchestra program is one of the most important parts of being a music director. We all  try to look for different ways to engage students and to have them interested in our programs.

 I have been very active in recruiting for my orchestra program for about eight years now. When I started at my current school, my program was quite small. I really needed to come up with creative ways to recruit and bring the numbers up. Every year, I have talked to my older students about recruiting and I have tried to analyze what makes students chose one thing over the other. Here are some of my findings about the mistakes we don't want to make.

What Not To Do
All band and orchestra teachers have similar ways of recruiting- we go to the feeder schools with our students to perform for them. We talk or send flyers to potential students and parents. We talk about the instruments and about our program to the interested students. HOWEVER, there are some things you can do in these recruiting sessions that can get you closer or further from the goal of recruiting many students in your program. These are some things you don't want to do in your recruiting sessions:

Say all the right things with the wrong tone of voice!
Students are very intuitive. They always "feel" the energy of the teacher. They can tell if that teacher is excited about what they are doing. If you want them to be excited about your program, then you have to speak in an exciting voice. Move around the room, make eye contact, share your excitement about teaching music. Let students know that you are fun and supportive teacher.

Not engaging the students already in the program in recruiting!
The students who are already in your program will do the best recruiting for you. Besides having a presentation with the kids, see if you can create a situations where they can mingle around the potential students and talk to them about your band and orchestra program. It is always great if you can have the potential students try out and touch the different instrument. This will be more effective if your own students show them the instruments. You can also have your students talk in front of the potential students and tell them about the great experience they have in your band and orchestra program.
o add to that idea I do a few other small things. When I have flyers, I like having my students distribute them. If we are waiting for the younger students to come to the gym for an assembly, then I have a couple of my students greet them at the door. As one student is doing demonstration on an instrument, I like having another student walk around to show this same instrument to the students. See more detailed ideas here.

Not having students move and smile!
This applies when recruiting younger students for your band or orchestra programs. Again, young kids "feel" the energy of the teacher and the energy of a group of kids performing for them. When I do presentations in the elementary schools, I have my own students be more "theatrical". They do silly things moving the scrolls in their violins, they produce funny sounds on their instruments, sometimes they say things like "Join orchestra" in the middle of the piece. Often I have them play a piece and get the audience to clap  while  we are playing. I make sure I pick pieces where my students can be free to move, do different things, and show that they are having fun when playing.

Talk to students as if you talk to adults!
This is a big one when recruiting successfully for your band or orchestra program!!! I have seen this many times with teachers recruit and I have observed the energy level of the students drop. There are different things you would say to students and parents to encourage them to join your program. When you talk to parents, do tell them about the wonderful opportunities, about the practice and discipline through music, about research showing that music helps children in all areas in life. HOWEVER, leave this out when you talk to kids about it! They need to hear that they will have fun, that their teacher will care about them, that they will meet friends in your band or orchestra program, that they would go to festivals and trips, that they will play exciting music relevant to them (movies, etc)

When recruiting, no negative messages!
Leave the discipline talk out! Yes it is important, but they would learn the classroom when they get to your class, not when they are considering it. See post about preparing for a recruiting session here.

Most of all...have fun when recruiting! Students pick up on that!!!!

Make Sure You Also Check Post
Four Tricks To Recruit Even More Student Into Your Music Program

Don't let great posts fly by you!
No spam ever, just great tips!

Do you have many students in your program? Share your experiences in the comments!