Two Quick Updates for MMS Band Students and Parents

1. Students will have a short band class period on Friday, February 26th. Students will log onto the class Zoom at their normal start time and classes are expected to last approximately 15 minutes long. During the short class period, we will take attendance and go over the day’s assignments. Students are expected to spend the remainder of their band class period time completing their assignments asynchronously.

If you are a 6th/7th grader, or the parent of one, you may stop reading! The next update only concerns 8th graders and their parents.

2. If you missed the SRHS Music Department informational meeting for incoming freshmen last week, or you simply want to reference some information from it, the presentation slides and recording of the meeting are now available in Advanced Band’s Google Classroom stream. Links to these items are not being posted on the blog or sent out via email for the purposes of security and privacy. I will leave these items posted on the Advanced Band Google Classroom stream for the remainder of the school year, as well as any other SRHS Music informational material that becomes available in the future.

Checking grades in band

Dear parents/guardians of MMS band students,

First, I am sending this message through multiple platforms to ensure I am “casting the widest net” possible for communicating this information.  If you are receiving this message more than once, please feel free to delete/ignore duplicate or triplicate emails.  I apologize for any inconvenience these multiple emails may cause you.

You may have noticed by now that there are currently no grades entered into PowerSchool for your child’s MMS band class as of yet despite the fact that we’re nearing the end of the third week of this new semester.  In this email, I will try explain why this is the case, as well as how you can monitor your student’s progress in their MMS band class.

To comply with new district grading policies, I have chosen a submission window of 14 calendar days following an assignment’s original deadline in which students can retake, rework, and resubmit assignments for full credit.  After the 14 calendar days run out for an assignment, it is no longer eligible for resubmission.  To avoid seemingly endless entry and revision of grades, I am waiting until the 14 calendar days are up and the grade is essentially “locked in” to load it into PowerSchool.  Unfortunately, neither Breezin’ Thru Theory nor SmartMusic are integrated with PowerSchool or Google Classroom, so all grades must be entered manually, student by student, score by score, by me. 

Additionally, the assignments I am giving in music classes are quite short, so there are a lot of them each week.  Entering individual scores for that many assignments is overload for both myself to enter, as well as for parents/guardians and students to have to sift through when reviewing grades in PowerSchool.  Because of this, I typically enter cumulative scores for assignments given over the course of a week.

So, how is it that students and parents/guardians can keep track of progress in their band classwork platforms?  I’ve produced some infographic Google Slides to help with this.  Students can access them through Google Classroom in the “Classwork” tab under the “Resources and Materials” heading.  Parents can access them at the following URLs:

How to check Breezin’ Thru Theory scores: http://tiny.cc/checkBTTscores
How to check SmartMusic scores: http://tiny.cc/checkSMscores
(note: if you manually type these URLs into your browser, they are case-sensitive)

I know that this is yet another process and path to follow in this tech-overload of a school year.  However, I felt it was important to communicate with students and parents/guardians about how they can keep track of progress in their MMS band class while I establish efficient grade entry practices that are compliant with new district policies.  I appreciate your patience and understanding as students and teachers alike adjust to these ever-changing circumstances.  Thank you for your support of the MMS Instrumental Music program and your child’s music education!

Sincerely,

Cameron Brown
Director of Instrumental Music
Thurgood Marshall Middle School

MMSIM 2020 Winter Concert!

Greetings MMS Instrumental Music students and families,

I’m proud to present Marshall Middle School Instrumental Music’s 2020 Winter Concert! The performance can be viewed at the following simplified/shortened link: tiny.cc/mmsim2020winterconcert. Please feel free to share the work that our orchestra students have done over the course of their distance learning with family and friends!

Like the band students in Quarter 1, the orchestra students have also responded with tremendous effort and dedication to great music during difficult and unique circumstances. Additionally, I am incredibly proud of the work they’ve done to keep our performance traditions alive during distance learning! Bravo, orchestras!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all music families a restful and joyous Winter Break! I’m looking forward to seeing students again when we “return” to (virtual) school on January 4th. Until then, enjoy the show!

Sincerely,
Mr. Brown

MMSIM 2020 Fall Concert!

Greetings MMS Instrumental Music students and families,

I’m proud to present Marshall Middle School Instrumental Music’s 2020 Fall Concert! The performance can be viewed at the following simplified/shortened link: tiny.cc/mmsim2020fallconcert. Please feel free to share the work that our band students have done over the course of their distance learning with family and friends!

I am very pleased with the work our MMS band students have done under such strange and unique circumstances. Thank you for all of the hard work and dedication you have displayed despite the challenges we’re currently facing! I have one more blog post to write in order to wrap up this first quarter/rotation that will include ideas for what to do while on “intermission” from your band class, as well as some thoughts on the district’s reopening plans and the significant risks and challenges MMS Instrumental Music classes will still face regarding the safety and logistics of in-person rehearsals. I am aiming to have that published here on the blog in the next few days. Until then, enjoy the show!

Sincerely,
Mr. Brown

Food for Musical Thought

 

If you find yourself bored and needing a good article or two to pass the time, here are a few from my good friend, Dr. Noa Kageyama, a.k.a. “The Bulletproof Musician.”

What to Ask Yourself After a Failure or Setback

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently

“Perfect” Practice May Be Preventing You from Learning that Tricky Passage

Why Listening to Reference Recordings is an Important Part of Practicing

The Importance of Writing Notes in Your Music (one of my favorites!)

For more delightfully thought-provoking articles about music and becoming a better musician, feel free to browse Dr. Kageyama’s blog, and feel free to email me with any articles you don’t see above that you found to be applicable to middle school musicians.