Painless Assessment in the Music Classroom

Quick and Easy Ways to Assess while Supporting, Not Interrupting,
Your Performance and Rehearsal Agenda
Assessment Fundamentals
 What is assessment?
 What are some examples?
 Why do we assess?
 Who uses the results of assessments?
Assess what you teach
 Assess based on your daily musical objectives
 Typical beginning band, orchestra, etc.: lines from
a method book, scales
 Typical ensemble with experienced students:
assess the literature students are preparing,
scales, rudiments, technical etudes
 Jazz ensemble: improvisational skills
What do you assess?
 Now that you have the material selected,
what do you listen for?
 Correct pitches and rhythm – what else?
Practice Assessment
 Read your rating sheet
 Listen to the recording
 Assess what you heard
 How did we rate our clarinettist? Please share
your total score at the bottom.
Define your expectations
 What might be good for a beginner might not
be good for an experienced student!
 Formative versus summative assessment
 Summative – final ranking, trophy, medal, etc.
No information provided, just results
 Formative – informs the student of how they did,
where they were strong, where they were weak
Formative Assessment
 What do your numbers mean?
 Formative assessment leads to positive
growth – but how do you inform the student?
 Write detailed feedback for each student
 Record yourself giving commentary as they play
 Use a rubric
Designing the Rubric
 The criteria on the rubric should reflect your
 How many criteria?
 What ratings do you use?
 Letters (A, B, C, D, F)
 Qualitative Descriptors (Superior, Excellent, Good)
 Numbers (1-3, 1-5, 1-100)?
 1-3 doesn’t differentiate between students clearly
 1-100 is too much: what is the difference between an
84 and an 83?
What do the ratings mean?
 3-6 criteria, 5-10 ratings
 For each criterion, define each level of rating.
What exactly differentiates a “5” on
intonation from a “4”?
Excellent 5pts
Very Good 4pts
Good 3pts
Fair 2pts
Poor 1pt
Tone is consistently
focused, clear, and
centered throughout
the range of the
Tone is focused, clear and
centered through the
normal playing range of
the instrument. Extremes
in range sometimes cause
tone to be less controlled.
Tone quality typically does
not detract from the
Tone is generally clear
with some unfocused
notes. Extreme range s is
slightly controlled.
Tone is often focused,
clear and centered, but
sometimes the tone is
uncontrolled in the normal
playing range. Extremes in
range are usually
uncontrolled. Occasionally
the tone quality detracts
from overall performance.
The tone is often not
focused, clear or centered
regardless of the range
being played, significantly
detracting from the overall
The beat is secure and
the rhythms are accurate
for the style of music
being played.
The beat is secure and the
rhythms are mostly
accurate. There are a few
duration errors, but these
do not detract from the
overall performance.
The beat is secure most
of the time with some
mistakes. Some duration
The beat is somewhat
erratic. Some rhythms are
accurate. Frequent or
repeated duration errors.
Rhythm problems
occasionally detract from
the overall performance.
The beat is usually erratic
and rhythms are seldom
accurate detracting
significantly from the
overall performance.
Virtually no errors. Pitch An occasional isolated
is very accurate.
error, but most of the time
pitch is accurate and
Articulation Tonguing and sticking
are accurate for entire
Most of the notes are
clearly articulated, with a
"dah" sound (rather than a
"TUT" sound).
Mostly accurate pitches Some accurate pitches, but Very few accurate or
with some errors. About there are frequent and/or
secure pitches.
a 60/40 ratio of correct repeated errors.
to wrong notes
There is some separation
between notes; student is
able to fix these errors
with teacher direction.
Frequently no separation
between notes. Student is
able to fix some errors
with teacher direction.
There is no separation
between notes; tonguing is
not being used.
Performer is off
beat, not
counting, playing
incorrect rhythms
(5 or more
Performer plays
with inaccurate air
stream and is not
in tune
(5 or more
Performer plays
little to none of
the correct
(5 or more
Performer is
unenthused, and
not conveying the
mood of the piece
(5 or more
Above Average
Performer has less Performer has few
rhythmic mistakes rhythmic mistakes
and is mostly on
(2-3 mistakes)
the correct beat
(3-5 mistakes)
Performer is
mostly plays
accurate rhythms
(1-2 mistakes)
Performer plays
correct rhythms
(0 mistakes)
Performer is
slightly in tune
and plays with
less focused air
(3-5 mistakes)
Performer has a
fair number of
intonation issues
(2-3 mistakes)
Performer is
mostly in tune
and plays with
good air
(1-2 mistakes)
Performer plays
with focused air
stream and is in
(0 mistakes)
Performer plays
some of the
articulation (3-5
Performer plays
an average
number of correct
(2-3 mistakes)
Performer plays
most of the
(1-2 mistakes)
Performer plays
all of the correct
(0 mistakes)
Performer looks
and barely
conveys the mood
of the piece
(3-5 mistakes)
conveys the mood
of the piece and
slightly slouches
(2-3 mistakes)
Performer mostly
conveys the mood
of the piece and
sits properly
conveys the mood
of the piece to the
audience and
Tone Quality
5- The tone is very full and obviously backed by good breath support
4- The tone is mostly good with a few spots that could be improved
3- The tone quality is okay but somewhat thin
2- The tone quality is thin or breathy
1- The tone quality is very unclear and thin
5- Posture, embouchure, and the hold on the instrument are all very good
4- Posture, embouchure, and the hold on the instrument can be improved in several places.
3- Posture, embouchure, and the hold on the instrument needs overall work
2-Posuture, embouchure, and the hold on the instrument are poor
1-Very poor posture, incorrect embouchure, and impractical hold on the instrument
Correctness of Pitch
5- All of the pitches were right and fingered correctly
4- Most of the pitches were right and fingered correctly
3- A fair number of the pitches were right and fingered correctly
2- Many of the pitches were wrong/ fingered incorrectly
1- Student obviously has no understand of the fingerings for the piece.
Correctness of Rhythm
5- The piece is played at an appropriate tempo with correct rhythms
4- The piece is played at an appropriate tempo with occasional hesitations
3- The piece is somewhat slow with several hesitations
2- The tempo is inconsistent with many hesitations
1- The tempo is hard to find and rhythms aren’t correct at all
Strategies for Implementation
 Now that you have it, how do you use
implement it with a 50-piece ensemble?
 Assess all 50 students in one day
 In regular classroom setting
 In sectionals
 Assess a few sections each day
 Takes relatively little time and doesn’t break your
overall rehearsal momentum
Uses of Assessments
 Now that you’ve done the assessment, what
can you do with this information?
 Student grades
 Chair placement
 Baseline data to set future goals
 Determine where to concentrate greater
attention during rehearsals

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