June 2012

Know Your Assignments

June 20, 2012 09:24

First, a story about how and why I FAILED my first midterm at UCLA.

I remember very clearly that day during my first year when the TA told our music history class that there would be a midterm that very class session. Wait- what? Yes, evidently it was true, I had forgotten about what was on my plate. I will say that my teacher wasn't the best communicator, but in my arrogance, I did not diligently note down the due dates and examination dates. Sufficient to say, after I stared blankly at the exam for a full minute, I proceeded to start writing down very bad answers and got a D on the test.

Rookie mistake. Don't be like me folks! Let's tackle this issue. Here's some tips that seem "duh~" obvious but have been overlooked by millions of music students throughout time.

Record it

One of the key responsibilities of a student is to know his or her assignment. This is just as much true for music as it is for academics. This is also true down the line for the student when they enter the workplace: work on what you're suppose to work on. Spend your energy to show relavent results.

Some practical ways to keep track of your assignments for the week is to jot down in a notebook what needs be done, in what order, and for how long. Make it as easy as possible for the student or teacher to write this down. Bring a quality notebook or notepad and clip to it a nice pen. You can use the Uni-ball Signo Dx Pen and a Moleskine Ruled Notebook which makes it a lot more fun to record things down. Be creative though: if your student is addicted to the iPad, let him use Evernote or just a simple app for him to record everything digitally. A brain can only remember so much, so a good notebook is very helpful for remembering all that's been taught.

I try to write down assignments for students at each lesson, but sometimes I forget. I tell my students that if I ever forget to write, they need to write down what was covered as soon as they get home.

Read The Notes

One prerequisite for this to work though is the student must check his or her notes. Make it a habit for the student and he will never be confused again (hopefully).


One additional process I am going to add is for students to debrief me at the start of each lesson. What did they practice? How long did they practice each assignment? That way I know if they had covered what they were supposed to. I can also find if anything was lost in translation.


Back to my UCLA story: that "D" made me really have to work hard. I went to the professor and pleaded for extra credit, which at first she said no, but eventually gave an extra cred assignment to the entire class. I had to ace all following assignments and tests. By a divine miracle from heaven I still got an A-.

Do you have any tips for recording assignments? I would love to hear about it!!

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