MTNA Conference: Pedagogy Saturday; More on RMM…


Before I dive in, I thought I better explain what RMM stands for because I failed to do that in my last two posts. So if you are unfamiliar with the initials RMM, it stands for Recreational Music Making.

The last morning class I attended in the RMM track was split into two parts.

Part 1-RMM and Creative Teaching Strategies by Margaret Hoover

Margaret showed many video examples of what she typically does in her RMM class. The video’s focused on 3 adults. A couple of the comments that were mentioned by the adult students were “getting basic rhythms is essential” and “3 perfect strangers become 3 good friends”  It was clear that even though each had their own very different personal background, that they really enjoyed making music together.

There were a few strategies that Margaret shared with us that she enjoys doing with her students.

1) Margaret plays an accompaniment on the piano while the students play rhythm instruments. (goal- keeping steady beat off of a syncopated rhythm)

2) Uses the Pattern Play books by Forrest Kinney with her students (goal: protect melody, accompany each other and pass melody back and forth)

3) In addition she likes to use Pattern play for improvisation ideas. She did a “live” example of this by having a student along side of her on the piano doing a Pattern Play improvisation while the other students were playing rhythm instruments.

(The Teacher and student on the piano can alternate measures and so on…)

Margaret organizes her classes in 6 week 50 min. sessions. Her RMM classes are perfect for those who struggle with reading, needs to relax and play for enjoyment. She states that it’s not about teaching people to play but giving permission for people to play.

You can read more ideas and a sample lesson plan along with the materials she used for the lesson plan here: RMM and Creative teaching strategies handout.

Part 2- RMM Combos with Young Students by Michael Stegner

Michaels big focus for this presentation was on their 5 day Rockstar camp that they hold in their music school, Creative Music Adventures. There is no previous experience required for students to participate.

In their rockstar camp they hold 30-50 min. sessions throughout the day with plenty of time for breaks (snacks, lunch) and even a chance to run around at the park close by.

The get their repertoire mainly from YouTube. The first day is an assessment song, which basically is a good introduction to what they will be doing at camp. During camp they will have the opportunity to compose their own blues (can include poetry)

Teachers choose songs day by day (not necessarily pre-planned).

Also in their school, they offer electives as part of the tuition. I like that idea. So kids can choose a couple elective classes as their music course. In addition they offer weekly combos. He noted that one of the teachers, if given the opportunity would much rather do weekly combos than private lessons.

Holding a rockstar camp is a great idea for students to have fun, be creative and feel like a rockstar!


(Coming up is the afternoon Jazz/Pop track)



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