2018 TMEA-TI:ME   Clinic, Convention:

Pedagogy From Afar:

Mini-Video Reinforcement Lessons
  February 14, 2018




Dr. Fred Kersten

Presentation Video Click Here


Mini-Videos In Action

Music teachers in colleges/public schools can quickly provide reinforcement of lesson elements taught by developing short mini-video distance learning lessons that backup new information, or, clarify unclear points that have occurred during a lesson, rehearsal, or class.  Many times new information has not settled in the mind, and/or the facts taught are somewhat vague. 

The student returns home and tries to remember: What was that new fingering taught? How should the embouchure be set for that high note? How did that rhythmic sequence sound when the teacher presented it during the lesson or class?

 Having available a short focused mini-video reexplaining the specifics taught allows for spontaneous recall of the instruction previously experienced. By reliving the instruction provided and allowing specifics to be remembered, reinforcement necessary for retention occurs. 

Video examples should be short in duration allowing particular topics to be illustrated quickly to the viewer.  Further, mini-videos do not have to be major productions but can feature the teacher, or another student, demonstrating a specific aspect to be learned. A clear and focused illustration of the problem and clarification should be provided.  Musical backgrounds should be utilized to complete or reinforce musical/aesthetic aspects of the example during the learning process.  Large ensemble problems can also be included. An explicit section of a composition might be scrutinized so that the musicians can develop an awareness of what they should be doing or listening for as they play  the composition.  

        As the teacher prepares lessons plans and thinks ahead to develop a logical and clearly focused sequence of logical learning activities for a class session, considering what aspects of a session might be reinforced through a mini-video will increase the initial awareness regarding potential problems and solutions.

Pedagogical Rationale

Of vital significance to the mini-video is the opportunity to alleviate the opportunity for inaccurate information, bad habits, or musical inaccuracies to be learned through constant practice without access to correction.  Many times a student returns home from a lesson and constantly practices the same mistake over and over because he/she has no frame of reference to realize the inaccuracy and correct the mistake consistently and continuously being reinforced.  The mini-video allows for such reference.  Specifics from the lesson can immediately be reviewed and the opportunity for learning the information in an erroneous and flawed manner diminishes. 

Most importantly, highly effective learning occurs as the troublesome unlearning of bad habits and inaccurate information does not have to take place.  Obviously musicians who have experienced this bothersome unlearning aspect are well aware of this problem.  Frustratingly they have had to unlearn a fingering, or a notation pattern with those “mistake gremlins” that mysteriously occur within a passage even if it has been thought to be in “performance flawlessly” mode.

Possible Topics That Might Be Explored:

*Embouchure, Fingering Clarification.
*Tempo, Dynamics Illustrations.
*Ensemble intonation problems--players are so busy performing their parts that they fail to perceive ensemble difficulties. By observing a mini-video they can perceive the overall gestalt by stepping back and watching the video for the few measures or section where the intonation difficulty is occurring.
*Specific rhythmic interpretation of a passage with a difficult configuration.

Mini-Video Format Suggestions

*Initially quickly review what the lesson that was taught was about.

*Indicate specifically what is to be accomplished by working with the mini-video.                                                                                                      

*Hit the point and then cut-out!  Reinforce new information taught—but illustrate just one point.        

 *Active learning incorporating direct musical activity of the viewer should be central to the video.


TIPS for Mini-Video Development

* SHORT video examples utilized. 

 *Focus on one specific aspect or topic only.

 *You DO NOT have to produce a major production. 

*Include yourself, the student, or other students as demonstrators.

 *A clear and focused illustration of the problem and remedy should be provided.  

*Music participation oriented—a doing approach.  Music backgrounds may be utilized to complete or reinforce the learning process.

*Certainly include small and large ensemble mini-video support.

*Provide perspective for ensemble musicians by allowing them to hear what the director hears from an overall perspective involving a problem of phrasing, dynamics, or intonation.


Dissemination Possibilities

*Publish through the district website for student perusal and woodsheding. The music department webpage, or a performing ensemble page, may be utilized. Allot a certain section where pedagogy examples may be placed.  A location where weekly changes or recent uploads will be noted is preferable.

*You can certainly always use You Tube. 

*Be careful about copyright infringement

*Have student’s or other performer’s permission if they have been videoed before placing the file online.


As lesson plans are prepared—thinking ahead of possibilities within lessons, classes, or rehearsals where/how/when distance education mini-videos may be of assistance to reinforce unclear points to be taught. This early heuristic thinking will increase the initial awareness of teachers regarding potential problems and solutions as they initially develop their lesson plans for a specific piece of music.  Many times by thinking of possible inclusion of the mini-video as a support vehicle, critical scrutiny of the teaching process and the awareness of possible problems may provide alternative solutions that may remove the need or necessity for follow-up usage of the mini-video in clarification or remediation.

  Mini-video Examples
Triple-Tonguing on the Recorder
Kodály Rhythm Syllable Exercise

About the Presenter

    Dr. Fred Kersten is an online graduate music education facilitator for Boston University.   He would welcome your comments: fredkers@fredkersten.com