Here’s to week four of school – cheers, friends! That means that I’ve been using MusicFirst with all of my students for four weeks now. Since I’m now infinitely wise about implementing it into an entire program (hah!) I’ll share with you the four things that have worked the best for me so far in getting my kids onto MusicFirst.
1. Access in class
Access in class is not just an awesome rhyme – its what has helped me train my kids on how to interact with MusicFirst and complete their assignments. We currently have 12 band hall iPads with the MusicFirst app on them. For beginner classes, especially, it does not take that much time to let each student log in and make sure everything is working for them. They also get to practice logging in which is confusing for some kids! Do some quick troubleshooting and have your laptop or teacher iPad nearby so that you can adjust usernames/passwords if needed. I’d love to pretend that I spelled every students name correctly…but I’m human and made mistakes 🙂
Give your students (especially older ones with phones or mobile devices) the opportunity to access it on their personal device so that they will know how to do it on their own time. Giving them this opportunity allows you to address issues right away – have an iPhone? download the app. have an android? use Chrome.
Students may not remember that if you only tell them in class without letting them try it out. It is well worth the short amount of class time it will take up!
When students are having to do something new with MusicFirst (or even just logging in for the first time!) it is super helpful for everyone if you will make a brief screencast of the process. Here is my current playlist of MusicFirst tutorial videos. I make these available on our band website and refer students to them when they need help. I used the Google Chrome app, Screencastify, to make all of these videos – EASY! Here’s how you use it
3. Make personal teaching goals
If this sounds like it is more about you than the kids, you are right on. YOU have to be organized about implementing online learning if your students are to be successful. Think about what you want the results to be. Here are my goals that you can absolutely steal or build upon:
I want my students to…
- …have a weekly technique challenge. I wrote out short 2-4 measure technique assignments for each instrument in advanced band and will use skill appropriate exercises for each beginner class
- …become comfortable sight reading with a weekly sight reading assignment. Some of these assignments I will not even grade – I just want them reading!
- …listen to a great recording of their instrument or an ensemble. I’m using YouTube for these weekly assignments alongside the “discussions” feature to allow students to have written responses.
- …have guided practice on something we are working on. Whether it is All Region Music, or excerpts from pieces/lines we are learning together, I want them to learn how to practice. PracticeFirst is a great practice guide as long as I can get what I want them to play uploaded. I am using MuseScore to create my own PracticeFirst assignments and am super happy with it as a notation software!
4. Be patient and flexible
You might think that I am always telling you to be patient…seriously, it is going to take a little while for your students to get into a good routine of checking in to MusicFirst. It is going to take some getting-used-to for you to create their assignments and get into a routine of grading them and making comments.
Some students are going to have a lot of trouble remembering to log on, or remembering to tell you that they can’t do it at home. Check in with them before you get frustrated with them not doing their work – they may be too shy to ask you for an iPad before school because there are a bunch of older kids in the band hall (or insert any excuse here). Help them to make a plan to fit this into their life – they will appreciate you for it and you will appreciate that they can do their assignments!
What is your best MusicFirst starter tip?