On Wednesday, Jan. 31, music students brought their instruments into the Alumni Recital Hall for a presentation given by Keene Middle School Band Director Sue Hahs.
Hahs has been teaching at Keene Middle School since 2005, and came to the college to share her knowledge with future music teachers.
After opening the presentation by talking about her background in music, Hahs explained the importance of middle schoolers playing, what she referred to as, chamber music. Listed among the benefits she presented was “providing leadership opportunities,” which was something Hahs demonstrated with the audience.
Creating an environment similar to the one in her classroom, Hahs asked Keene State students to come up on stage with their instruments.
Once the appropriate number of musicians were in place, Hahs handed them music and told them to play it without a conductor.
While the college students quickly worked out a tempo and counted themselves in, Hahs explained that this task is much harder for middle schoolers to do.
“You just saw three months worth of a middle school band recital,” Hahs joked.
Hahs expressed that she often gives the artistic license to her students before she makes corrections as a way of helping her students become better musicians.
Music technology and composition major Geoffrey Edwards, believed that to be the most important takeaway from the presentation.
“To put trust in the students that you’re teaching; put trust in the musicians that they want to lead because in this case, they’re striving to make music,” Edwards continued.
“Rather than just leading them every step of the way hoping they can get it right, you’re giving them a chance to grow themselves.”
From learning how to choose repertoire, to finding ways to encourage students to join the band, KSC music students were given the opportunity to learn first-hand from someone with the degree they are striving for.
Despite Edwards not being a music education major, he still found the presentation helpful for his future career.
“For me, although I’m not a music education major, and I’m not teaching students, it is giving me an idea of leading a rehearsal in general and the kind of repertoire that I would be able to teach kids one day. I know without an education degree I won’t be in schools, however, I will be teaching students along my way.”
Music Education major Hailley Dufresne is currently student-teaching with Hahs at Keene Middle School.
Despite the horror stories that are often surrounded around working with middle school students, Dufresne discovered the opposite.
“I’ve learned that teaching middle school is not as terrifying as it’s made out to be. Student-teaching is an experience. You never really know what you’re going into until you actually go into it. Taking everything I got from that [classes] and putting it into the field has been a challenge, but definitely a fun one at that,” Dufresne said.
For the all the music students in the room, Hahs offered some advice. “Study and trust your professors.The things that they tell you are really true, even though it feels like busy work. Everything that your being asked to do is so that you feel prepared when you’re out there,” Hahs said.
Erin McNemar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org