Things Change…#IMMOOC Week 3

This was a very thought provoking week in the #IMMOOC. There were two great book chapters on the importance of relationships and being a leader, a powerful talk by Tara Martin where she encouraged people to “Cannonball in,” and we’ve been asked to reflect on the question, “What is one thing that you used to do in education that you no longer do or believe in?”

“Cannonball in! You’ll either sink or swim, but most likely you’ll swim because you don’t want to drown!” ~Tara Martin

The biggest change I’ve made, and admittedly it is still a work in progress, has to do with control. I have finally started to realize that I do not always have to be in control – the class can still function without me standing in front of them, directing every minute.

conductorI believe this concept is tricky for music teachers, and I’ll even go one step farther to say it’s especially difficult for conductors. Think about it, we are given a magic wand (our baton) that when we wave it, a whole group of people do exactly what we want. Conductors are some of the biggest control freaks I know! What I am discovering though, is that it’s not necessary. As conductors we don’t have to control every beat. We are there to keep everyone together, to guide the musicians on the journey. But it’s ok to give them some freedom to make musical choices along the way. In fact, it’s a good idea to do so!

“As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.  If innovation is going to be a priority in education, we need to create a culture where trust is the norm.” ~ George Couros (The Innovator’s Mindset) 

One thing I am working on this year is letting the students make more decisions and giving them more control. Voice and Choice. It has resulted in a loud classroom (6 trumpet players working on different music will do that!) but kids who seem genuinely happy and excited about making music. I have been more successful with this during the small group lessons then full ensemble rehearsals, but it’s a work in progress. I now understand that when students have control in the classroom, they can also take control of their learning. That should be one of our main goals.


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  1. My name is Kathryn Finch and I am a control freak! I feel many music teachers could benefit from a music teacher/conductors anonymous group about letting go of control. It’s so hard! Good for you for recognizing this about yourself and finding ways to let go. Kids can make musical choices and should reflect on their own music. I’ve even seen my kid’s orchestra teacher step aside for one song and let a small ensemble perform a piece by themselves. Pretty cool! You have me thinking. I am going to think about control this week and see if I can catch myself in my control moments. There’s bound to be another way. Thanks for sharing!

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