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Post Falls High School Guitar Program

Community Building Partners

During the guitar residency sponsored by Community Building Partners/The JACC, 67 Post Falls High School students received direct instruction from residency artist, Brad Richter, at Post Falls High School via on-site and Skype instruction. Additionally, in an effort to strengthen the music program at Post Falls High School, two Post Falls High School band/music teachers received pedagogical training and help in installing the ‘Lead Guitar’ curriculum written by Brad Richter, which covers at least two years of progressive, in-school guitar study and which was provided as part of the residency. Twenty-seven (27) students were enrolled in guitar classes for two consecutive semesters and achieved the outcomes through Quarter 4. An additional 40 students participated in one semester of guitar instruction with an option to take a second semester in future year. Those 40 students achieved the outcomes through Quarter 2. Classes met 5 times per week for one hour each.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

When has a piece been refined and evaluated enough to be performed for a wider audience?

The PFHS Guitar Residency program used the culminating concert performance as a focus for the residency to guide students through the following standards:

Common Anchor #3 – Evaluate and refine selected musical ideas to create musical work that meets appropriate criteria.
– Musicians evaluate and refine their work through openness to new ideas, persistence, and the application of appropriate criteria.

Common Anchor #5 – Evaluate and refine personal and ensemble performances individually or in collaboration with others.
– To Express their musical ideas, musicians analyze, evaluate, and refine their performance over time through openness to new ideas, persistence, and the application of appropriate criteria.

Common Anchor #6 – Perform expressively, with appropriate interpretation and technical accuracy, and in a manner appropriate to the audience and context.
– Musicians judge performance based on criteria that vary across time, place and cultures. The context and how a work is presented influence the audience response.

Common Anchor #10 – Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experience to make music.
– Musicians connect their personal interests, experiences, ideas and knowledge to creating, performing, and responding.

Common Anchor #11 – Relate musical ideas and works with varied context to deepen understanding.
– Understanding connections to varied contexts and daily life enhances musicians’ creating, performing, and responding.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

“When Mr. Richter came, he helped out everyone in the class and most of them improved, including me. He went to every person and showed them the tiniest details they could fix to help them improve. The curriculum that he wrote is also a very good way to self improve. It has helped me improve and made more sense than when I took guitar before with a different curriculum.”

“Many students at Post Falls High School have learned a lot about guitar from Brad’s lessons. He is able to provide students with demonstrations of how to flawlessly play through a song. Brad has the ability to demonstrate how beginner songs can transform into advanced songs. His material provides easy-to-learn songs that sound very good.”

“While Brad Richter was here, he taught me how music can be a way to change people’s preset views. Such as if someone thinks guitar is best played in Rock and Roll, and you play Swan perfectly on the classical guitar.”

“I believe that Brad really inspired the classroom during his visit and his presence motivated me to finish the class strong. Seeing someone actually play for us and direct us really brought everything full circle and it was a really unique experience.”

Impact

“From an educator standpoint, Brad and his curriculum have been incredibly useful for me. I have spent the past 8 years teaching at the elementary level and this is my first year teaching high school and guitar. Brad’s curriculum has allowed me the confidence to teach the students the proper techniques and tools for playing guitar when I am a beginner myself. The curriculum is well laid out and progresses nicely for all levels. During Brad’s visits, he has given me many different tools and techniques to use to help the students’ progress further. My first semester of teaching I was not sure how to teach and how to play, but with his tips and hints, it has allowed me to be more confident in teaching the students. I have definitely seen a major progression in how far the students have come from start to finish. I am not sure I would have made it through the year teaching guitar if it had not been for Brad and the Lead Guitar Method Book.” – Isaac Robbins, PFHS instructor

Reflection

The best evidence of the musical achievement of the project and student learning was on display at the public concert held at the JACC on April 27, 2017. Advanced students played an evening length concert alongside Brad Richter for a crowded gathering of friends, family and community members. The students performed complex music with five independent parts while following a conductor and performing with dynamics and expressiveness. For many of the students, it was their first time on a stage or performing in front of their families.

As a result of the success of the 2016-2017 guitar residency, Post Falls High School is moving to establish an advanced guitar ensemble class for students who wish to continue with a third semester or more of guitar.

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