June 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
During the summer, I usually focus on technique. Every day, I play through large portions of Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Daily Exercises and Moyse’s Daily Exercises. I also reacquaint myself with old etudes and learn new ones. This summer, I’m taking a different approach. I’m working mainly on repertoire because I’m optimistic that I will be performing frequently this coming academic year, and if I don’t start working on it now, I won’t have enough preparation time once the fall semester begins. Current repertoire on rotation this summer includes:
Solo Flute -
The Great Train Race – Ian Clarke
Two Flutes (with and without piano) -
Op. 80 – Friedrich Kuhlau
Duos for Flutes – Robert Muczynski
Au-Delà du Temps – Yuko Uebayashi
Alto Flute and Piano -
Framed – Garrett Shatzer
Alto Flute -
Cello Suites – JS Bach (arranged by Carla Rees)
Once performance dates are solidified, I’ll start to organize my rehearsal timetable with a bit more precision. I’ll also be adding a few more pieces and perhaps taking a few off the list. For now, I’m just enjoying having long periods of uninterrupted practice time.
Other fun things so far this summer: I was very happy to give an Ignite talk about Hildegard of Bingen. It isn’t often that you get 5 minutes to tell a coffee house full of people as much interesting stuff as possible about a medieval nun.
I was also on staff for the All State Music Camp hosted by South Dakota State University this past week. It was a good week of teaching flute, hearing some great students, and meeting band directors. I enjoyed seeing colleagues as well as some of my SDSU students who were working at the camp as junior staff.
And today I performed on a Virtual Recital, which is a new series run by Hannah Kim, Alexis Del Palazzo, and Travis Johnson. These recitals are streamed online and allow musicians from all over the world to perform at the same event. Considering the amount of technology required, there didn’t seem to be any snags; it was very well-run, and I hope to be able to participate again in the future.
Today also marks the one year anniversary of my on-campus interview at South Dakota State University. Grateful.
April 8th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I recently purchased a Glissando headjoint, which is a relatively new piece of flute “gear” invented by Robert Dick. If you aren’t familiar with him, he’s one of the preeminent performers of contemporary music. He’s active as a performer, a composer, and a teacher. This headjoint slides out from its home position to create a true glissando and can therefore make either subtle or extreme adjustments to pitch. It can also be played as a standard headjoint.
Here’s a fantastic demonstration of how it works:
My first performance on this headjoint will be this August at the National Flute Association Annual Convention in New Orleans, where I’ll be giving the premiere of a new work by Jay Batzner. The title of the work will be Dreams Grow Like Slow Ice for glissando headjoint and electronics, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what kinds of sounds can be coaxed out of this new setup.
If there are any flutists out there who own one of these and want to collaborate, or if there are any composers who are interested in writing for this headjoint, contact me!
April 4th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Over Spring Break, I made a visit to the National Music Museum, which is on the campus of the University of South Dakota in the small town of Vermillion, population approximately 10,000. Despite it being “Spring” Break, it was quite a cold day. I didn’t have much trouble finding the museum. It appears to be in what was formerly a library building but it works well for this extensive collection.
When I first walked in, there was a reception desk, where I was given a very good overview of the building, including a map and a handheld computer that gave additional information about various instruments found in the galleries. There was a small gift shop across from the desk, and a small recital hall was also relatively close to the entrance.
The museum holds a huge number of instruments; according to their website, there are more than 14,500 of them. I took a look at everything displayed in their galleries that day. Of course, I took more notice of certain instruments than others based on my background and the type of work I’m doing at the moment.
Probably the most impressive sight in the museum is the gamelan, which is a set of instruments percussion from Indonesia. These are not commonly found in this area, so I am looking forward to bringing my World Music class here in the fall for a demonstration. The gamelan is housed in a gallery that includes many other non-Western instruments. The African talking drum, the middle-eastern ud, and the Indian sitar and veena were particularly interesting. The east Asian qin and flutes were also a treat to see. It’s amazing, honestly, that all of these instruments, which aren’t often found in Western music, are right here in this one collection.
Another gallery includes “musical innovations of the industrial revolution.” There is a flute that demonstrates the practice of having multiple middle joints, so that the player can most closely match the pitch in that particular area. There are other flutes included here, as well, including a few Louis Lots. There are also serpents on display in this area, and who doesn’t like to see those?
Quite impressively, this museum’s collection includes stringed instruments by Stradivari and Amati.
One of the last galleries I visited focused on American music and instrument manufacturing. Some of my favorites were guitars owned by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and Joe Carter. Other instruments in this gallery included Native American drums, flutes, and rattles as well as Civil War instruments.
Overall, I once again find myself saying, “Wait, they have this in South Dakota?” For a big state with not many people, there are many impressive resources to avail oneself of here. This museum is going to be a benefit to my World Music class and is worth a trip if you happen to find yourself in the Vermillion, SD area. Check out more of their holdings through a virtual tour of their website.
March 15th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Luckily for them, my colleagues who have offices near mine were out of town for a conference this week, so I felt no guilt in really giving this instrument a nice workout. Based on my brief experience with it, this is a responsive, easy-to-play instrument that sounds even across the entire range. I introduced the piccolo to my students during studio class where they had the opportunity to try it for themselves. They initially thought the rectangular keys would be difficult to adjust to; as they spent some time with the instrument, they discovered that they really weren’t an obstacle. I particularly like the low register of this instrument; it doesn’t have that thin sound that you sometimes hear in the low register of the piccolo. The look is really quite distinctive. The colors are a bold move, and I personally prefer a more traditional wood color. However, the mechanism is striking and visually appealing. In some ways, it reminds me of the Powell 2100 model with its modern key cups.
The only structural criticism that I have about this piccolo is one that my students also mentioned after they tried it. It is quite easy to inadvertently press down the trill keys, as they are flat and taper down, matching the curve of the fingers. This was especially true for my students with larger hands. Still, with my average sized hands, I found myself also running into those keys. This might be something that is quickly adjusted to but was still an issue after playing the instrument for a week.
Overall, I think this is a solid instrument. It’s responsive and has a very nice sound. I also think the price positions it nicely to be a reasonable choice for many players. While I insist that my students try many brands to find the instrument that is best suited for each of them, the Powell Sonaré piccolo is one that I will add to the list of instruments that I recommend they consider.
Many thanks to the folks at Powell flutes for allowing the flute studio at South Dakota State University to spend some time with the PS-750!
March 11th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Trying to prepare for a recital can be an overwhelming process. Whether you are a student planning a junior or senior recital or a professional who is trying to balance recital preparation with other duties, careful planning will ensure that the event goes smoothly.
First, it’s important to choose your program carefully. I usually have a backlog of music I would like to perform. I try to come up with a program that is balanced and includes a lot of variety. Even though I primarily focus on new music lately, I am aware of my audience and also include some of the older standard works. I also try not to neglect works written for interesting instrumental combinations when the players are available. For the recital I most recently presented, I included J.S. Bach, a French work, and a lot of new music. Of the new works, there is still considerable variety. One is for solo flute, two include digital audio sounds, one is for flute and clarinet, and another is for alto flute.
Some music has been on my stand for many months because I knew I would plan to program it on my next recital. Some of it is newly chosen, and I haven’t been working on it as long. As my recital approaches, I begin to keep a list of the entire program and put each work into one of these categories: almost performance ready but just needs polishing, really needs technical work, and ready to go. Then I determine a practice schedule based on that list. I continue to work on the pieces that are nearly ready but I spend much less time on them. The other works get more focused, intense practice like I describe here.
Lately, I have preferred to have most of my music learned and some kind of idea of how I want it to sound before I start collaborating with chamber music partners. While I keep an open mind, it seems to result in a stronger performance if we aren’t trying to make every musical decision as we go.
For students, I help them come up with a similar schedule to that outlined above, but we are more specific as to when and how often the student should practice each work and even each section of each work. Based on where they are with the music, we might come up with a schedule that includes the best-prepared works being heard in lessons every 2 or 3 weeks. The works that are nearly ready but need polishing might be heard every week but only those specific spots. The music that requires the most technical work will definitely get the most focus, including more intense lesson time. And as we approach the recital date, students will begin to play entire works in lessons, so they get the feel of what it’s like to play the entire program at one time. By making a specific schedule, this helps the student feel like there is a manageable plan between preparation and performance.
Teaching musical style can be tricky and obviously is a much longer process. I try to expose the student to various styles through demonstration and quality recordings; this is ongoing work, regardless of whether or not there is a recital on the horizon. Then when the student approaches a piece, we will have spent a little time with that particular style and it won’t be a brand new concept.
As with most things, careful preparation is important. Instead of forging ahead with no clear plan, a detailed approach will more likely result in a successful, confident performance.
January 25th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Kentucky Flute Festival for the second year in a row. This year included very different events compared to last year, so it was nice to be able to attend and participate in such a different festival. It was also great to catch up with a lot of flute friends who I haven’t seen in a while. I also enjoyed Chick-Fil-A for lunch, which is a southern staple and something I haven’t had in months.
The festival was held at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky (population 9000).
Friday, 18 January featured “Flute Society of Kentucky Flute Olympics,” which is geared towards younger students. I think this is a great way to get beginners involved in the organization and really work on establishing good players early in their musical experience. It included such workshops as “Fun with Scales,” “Name That Tune,” and flute choir reading sessions. The flute choir performed on the last concert of the weekend, so that was a nice way for the students to have some immediate performance experience. I attended a workshop that morning about flute upgrades. It was good to hear what kind of flutes some of the younger elementary, middle, and high school players are using these days. The market has changed very, very quickly, and flutes that wouldn’t have been given a second look years ago are now much more reliable. I don’t teach as many very young students at this point, but I felt it was important to know what kinds of experiences private teachers are having with various flute brands.
On Friday I also judged the final rounds of the Flute Society of Kentucky’s competitions. This was approximately 5.5 hours of flute-playing goodness and included the Junior Soloist, High School Soloist, Collegiate Artist, Young Artist, and Chamber Ensemble competitions. There was a lot of fantastic playing, and I was happy to see that the FSK was able to attract participants from around the country. I had a great time listening to the players and spending some time with my colleagues.
The opening concert that evening featured some very nice works. I was particularly interested in Danza de la Mariposa by Valerie Coleman (of the Imani Winds), as one of my students is currently working on it. There was also a very cool piece called Kembang Suling by Gareth Farr for flute and marimba. Keeping things in mind for future recitals…
Last on the agenda for the evening was a flute choir rehearsal. My friend and colleague Heidi Álvarez (Western Kentucky University) put together a flute choir of applied flute instructors from various institutions. It included Jana Flygstad Pope (Georgetown College), Julie Hobbs (University of Kentucky), Heidi Álvarez (Western Kentucky University), Jennifer Brimson Cooper (Morehead State University), Jessica Dunnavant (Middle Tennessee State University), Kristen Kean (Eastern Kentucky University), and me (South Dakota State University). Dr. Becky Weidman-Winter, from the Little Rock, Arkansas area, filled in for another player who was not able to attend. We performed flute choir music by Kentucky composers Michael Kallstrom and Sonny Burnette, including a world premiere.
Saturday, 19 January started early with another flute choir rehearsal. Then I caught a bit of the master class with the guest artist, Molly Barth. The mid-day concert followed. I particularly enjoyed the Tailleferre Suite performed by flutist Jessica Dunnavant, saxophonist Paula Van Goes, and pianist William Coleman. There was also a very interesting work called Arcana by Elizabeth Brown, performed by Kristen Kean.
Guest artist Molly Barth’s recital was inspiring. As a performer who specializes in new music (and one of the founding members of the chamber ensemble eighth blackbird), she introduced me to many works that were completely new to me, even though I primarily play modern music at this point in my career. I think the biggest lesson I took away from this recital was to be fearless in performance. I might make technical mistakes in a performance (which is not to insinuate that Ms. Barth did!), but if I play without fear, it will be much more powerful. I have this realization every once in a while and then tend to get bogged down in technical passages or mired in the trees, instead of seeing the forest. I’ve had my reminder to really increase the energy of a performance, though, and just in time for my faculty recital on February 25.
Our flute choir performance followed Ms. Barth’s recital, and it went very well.
A second master class with Ms. Barth followed, and featured a very high level of playing across the board. It was a lot of fun to hear students from various universities in the south. Overall, quite a variety of works were included. This was the last event of the festival and was a great way to finish things up.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the last flight back to South Dakota on Saturday, so I caught the first one out on Sunday morning, which required me to leave my Campbellsville hotel at 4am. The crazy things we do as travelling musicians…
I look forward to next year’s event, which will take place January 2014 at Western Kentucky University.
January 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This is a little delayed, perhaps, but it’s time for a bit of perspective on the events of last year. As I went back and read through my summary of 2011, I can’t help but be reminded of how incredibly, insanely different this January is compared to last January.
Last January, I wrote my end-of-year summary while enjoying a vacation overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This January, I live over 1500 miles away from that beach and hope to see it again some time this year. Some of my goals last year were to get a full-time music gig, find a vintage Powell flute, present and perform at flute conventions, continue writing, and collaborate on more musical performances. I’m thrilled that so much of that was accomplished in 2012.
In my quest to obtain a full-time, tenure-track faculty position, I ended up going on two interviews last year. The second was successful, and I am quite happily the newest Assistant Professor of Music at South Dakota State University. My job is a blast. I’m happy to go to work every day, my colleagues are fun to be around, and I hit the lottery with my students. I’ve said this before, but the midwestern work ethic is alive and well in South Dakota. My workload includes world music, woodwind pedagogy, music history, and applied flute. We’re starting a flute choir this semester, which I’m pretty excited about.
During the first half of last year, I was on faculty at University of South Carolina Aiken and Newberry College. There I was teaching Theory II, Theory IV, form and analysis, world music, applied flute, flute studio, and flute ensemble. It was a heavy load, but I really enjoyed being about to spend some time with theory. And it was sad to leave the flute students I had spent several years with but I know they will continue to work hard and do well.
I managed to attend and perform (or present) at several flute conventions last year, including the Kentucky Flute Festival, the Atlanta Flute Fair, the South Carolina Flute Society event, and the British Flute Society. I presented various workshops on efficient practice and the flute music of Joan Tower, performed with Ian Clarke and on a flute choir piece for the SCFS, and judged the adult amateur competition of the BFS. It was great to be able to see colleagues and friends and hear amazing players. Some performer highlights were Walfrid Kujala, Ian Clarke, Christina Smith, and so many amazing British flutists at the BFS event. I also attended some great masterclasses throughout the year with Keith Underwood, Patricia George, and the Imani Winds. Hearing players at this level is always a much-needed inspiration.
One of my goals last year was to be involved in more musical collaborations. I felt like that was something that I neglected to do in 2011, probably because my teaching schedule was too heavy. My first big collaboration of 2012 was a benefit concert for the March of Dimes. The music students at Newberry College put together a nice program, and we ended up raising over $700 for the local chapter. I hope to be able to make this an annual fundraising event. Other collaborations included several works with my new colleagues at SDSU, including Nate Jorgensen, Emily Toronto, and Mike Walsh. It was a great way to jump in and play some chamber music repertoire I haven’t played before. I was also invited to be guest artist by Heidi Alvarez at Western Kentucky University, where I joined several of the faculty members in performing music by my Twitter-friend Michael Kallstrom. Heidi is a great flutist and teacher, and I enjoyed working with her and her students.
Miscellaneous things: I recorded the soundtrack for a short animation at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta; bought a vintage Powell flute; enjoyed soaking up the country music culture in Nashville; moved across the country; got a quick introduction to Native American culture from an expert at SDSU, which I could use for my world music class; got to know the state of South Dakota through numerous recruiting trips; watched the marching band participate in the 100th Hobo Day parade at SDSU; and drove through an actual blizzard to play in a concert. This year included trips to (or through) twelve states and two countries. Good thing I like travelling!
So what’s the plan for 2013? Basically, keep going. Collaborate as much as possible, recruit amazing flute students, teach, write, travel. I’ve also found myself playing more and more new music as the years go by. I commissioned a work last year by Rob Cronin and had another dedicated to me by Rob Steadman, and I’m looking forward to performing those this year. Working with composers is pretty great, and I’m looking forward to more of that this year.
As always, I’m interested in collaborations. If you want to work together, contact me! Email or Twitter @TammyEvansYonce.
December 21st, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Meerenai Shim is a flutist and flute teacher based in Campbell, California. She published a flute study in 2007, Scale Studies for Beginner and Intermediate Flutists. I have long felt that there could be more choices in flute methods for younger students. There are many books for absolute beginners and a considerable amount of material for advanced students but there seems to be a relative lack of books for the in-between students. (If you’d like to share your favorite intermediate flute method books with me, please do!)
I like Shim’s book. There are brief instructions at the beginning of the book, which encourage the student to use a metronome (and how to use the metronome), play with good tone, practice certain marked exercises until they are memorized, and work with a private teacher. All helpful advice!
She begins the book with C Major, which is a reasonable choice. Immediately, though, we find a variety of time signatures. I think this is an excellent idea. Too often, students become too comfortable with basic time signatures and tend to shy away from “foreign” time signatures, even though they are no more difficult than common time. I think the introduction of a variety of time signatures right away is a smart idea. She also provides a space to write in a metronome marking for each exercise. In some examples, she suggests counting the smaller beat OR the larger beat (as in the case of a 6/8 time signature) and provides a space to write in the metronome marking for each of those.
After C Major, we find a set of exercises on A Minor. There is a brief explanation of the relationship between C Major and A Minor. She also introduces the various types of minor scales: natural, harmonic, and melodic. There isn’t really any written explanation of the differences between these, so a private teacher would be necessary here.
After these keys, we add more flats and sharps to the key signature (F Major, D Minor, G Major, E Minor, etc.) until all major and minor scales have been covered. Shim treats F-sharp Major and G-flat Major separately, which I like. I think it’s useful to be able to read each of these keys separately.
There are a variety of articulations covered from the very beginning of this book. Many of them anticipate a student’s use of the Taffanel and Gaubert method book later on, which sets up a useful transition. There is also good rhythmic variety that becomes more complex as the book progresses. There are plenty of opportunities for the private teacher to make distinctions between rhythms that are sometimes confusing. (I’m thinking specifically of the dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythm presented on page 18, followed by the triplet rhythm introduced on page 20.)
The range is limited at the beginning of the book (just over two octaves) and increases as the student progresses. In fact, Shim revisits certain keys that are introduced at the beginning of the book in order to extend the range of those. The very first exercise of the book begins on a low C, which could present difficulties for a brand new student. (Again, a private teacher makes all the difference here.)
The last portion of the book reviews all of the scales presented. The first is a chromatic scale (which isn’t labelled; it would have been nice to have seen this identified), followed by each major scale and its parallel minor. For the private teacher, there is a nice opportunity in this book to show the relationship between major scales and relative minors as well as major scales and parallel minors. Shim suggests that all of the scales in this section be memorized, which is excellent advice.
There is a clear fingering chart on the last page of this method book. It covers from low B through very high D, which surely is plenty of range for the beginning and intermediate student. Shim also suggests a couple of additional resources for fingering charts.
Overall, I think this is an excellent book for beginners (with the guidance of a private teacher) and intermediate students. It does a good job of preparing a modern flutist, including a variety of relatively complex rhythms, expanding to use the entire range of the instrument, and providing a fingering chart that gives the entire modern range. These are skills that modern students — even the younger ones — are becoming expected to know, and it’s nice to see them addressed in a concise method book.
For more information, check out Meerenai Shim’s website: http://meerenai.com/main/.
November 29th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As I was teaching today, I realized that there tend to be two types of applied students in my life. A student can move from one category to the other over time, or it’s possible for a student to stay one type for their entire time with me. Where that student falls is probably a factor of many things, including musical maturity, technical ability, motor skills, among many other probable causes. I’m not trying to make any sort of judgment of these two types; instead, I’m curious if other teachers find the same breakdown of students in their own studios, if they prefer to teach one type over the other, and how (or if) their pedagogical approaches differ between the two types.
With one type of student, we primarily work on musical ideas in lessons. Their repertoire might not be completely technically accurate in all respects. There might be a few wrong notes, and we work on refining that technique by practicing in small segments, by making sure we’re using the fingerings that make the most sense for that passage, by altering the rhythm and playing the passage in question backwards. We might work on refining the embouchure, or changing the direction of the air stream, or experimenting with faster or slower vibrato. However, it’s all in the name of musical experimentation and development. This group includes private students of all ages, college music majors, and college students who are taking lessons as an elective.
The lessons with the second type of student consist solely of technical nuts and bolts. Every lesson, we correct fingerings. I remind these students of the various fingerings for B-flat. I remind them to lift their left pointer finger for our middle D and E-flat. We work frequently on aligning the head joint. We count rhythms together every lesson. I also spend a lot of time with them supervising their practice during each lesson. I frequently coach them on how to practice things and specifically what to do and for how long in the practice room. Now I’m not naive; some of the students in this category flat-out do not practice. I understand that quite well. However, there seem to be those students who do spend time legitimately practicing and still have significant problems with just the basics of flute playing. As with the other type, this group also includes private students of all ages, college music majors, and college students who are taking lessons as an elective.
As a teacher, I’m genuinely happy to teach anyone who is an involved, enthusiastic student. I have very little patience for students who don’t practice at all. (Isn’t this true for everyone?) But teaching both of these types of students (Categories 1 and 2; not the non-practicers) is ok with me; it makes for an interesting, varied week of lessons. Reminding every student repeatedly of very basic information every day can be exhausting, and I have yet to be in a situation where I have only students of the first category. I always have a mix of both categories, with a few non-practicers thrown in to keep things interesting.
I’m interested in hearing from other applied teachers: do you have many students at any level (i.e., college, adult, high school, and so forth) for whom the fundamentals are very difficult? Is your pedagogical approach to them significantly different from your approach to Category 1 students?
November 26th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As a college professor, one thing that can be difficult for me to assess at the end of the semester is how much progress my students have made in the preceding 14-or-so weeks. When grades are tied to assessing this progress, it makes things even dicier. Feelings, scholarships, and progress towards their degree completion makes the stakes high. After seven years of college teaching, some things have worked and some haven’t. Here are some ways I organize my assessment of my students’ progress, which can also be used by students for some self-reflection.
At the beginning of each semester, during the first lesson, I determine where that student is as far as tone, technique, and musicianship are concerned. Obviously this task is easier if I have taught the student before. It can be a little tricky if the student is brand new, but there is always room to make adjustments later. At that point, we decide together on various materials that will be used during the course of the semester. It depends on the student; if this is a young or inexperienced student, sometimes I will primarily use one method book. If it’s an older student, we tend to include etudes, technical exercises, repertoire, and other materials from a variety of sources. While I think there are certain materials that every student should eventually work through, I don’t feel like every student must be playing from the same sources at the same time. (This also makes lessons more interesting and varied during the week!) We come up with an approximate amount of material that can be covered; for example, we might outline one etude a week, three heavy technical exercises, tone studies, and two works to focus on for the entire semester. We talk about a reasonable amount to cover each week and try to identify performance dates for the pieces. This way we have benchmarks to hit at various points throughout the semester and can pace ourselves accordingly. I make sure to get students’ input here, as well. Maybe their vibrato doesn’t strike me as something that needs to be heavily addressed during the semester, but the student is quite uncomfortable with it. I will make sure that we cover that. Perhaps they know a piece that they would really like to work on. As long as it is appropriate for their level and is well-balanced with their other repertoire, I’m happy to allow them to make those decisions.
I also do a mid-semester “check up” to see if we’re making sufficient progress towards our outlined goals. If we’ve decided to finish one etude a week, and it’s taking three weeks to get through one etude on average, it’s time to reassess. Are the etudes really that difficult, or is the practice time spent on these insufficient or badly organized? This can be tricky to determine. Sometimes there are circumstances that we aren’t aware of as teachers, and it takes a good amount of trust to know whether a student is being lazy, has a mismanaged life, or is really having trouble with the material.
There is also the circumstance where something that wasn’t apparent in the first lesson reveals itself as an issue that must be dealt with immediately. Perhaps there are serious embouchure problems or major rhythmic inaccuracies in a student’s playing. Things so fundamental must be addressed before making progress towards other musical goals. In this case, a student might not get through all the material that was outlined in the first lesson, but if serious progress was made on these other aspects, it has been a successful semester.
If a student is making good progress towards the outlined goals, everything is in good shape. It’s still worthwhile to have that mid-semester reminder that there is still work to be done and grades do inevitably happen at the end of the semester. And of course, if a student is making progress beyond what was initially outlined, they will hear no complaints from me!
By making expectations completely clear at the beginning of the semester (and giving a reminder midway through), this lessens the possibilities of misunderstandings or hurt feelings when grades are due. Also, by making the student involved with the decision-making, that student has more ownership of the situation and hopefully feels more in control of his or her musical development.