Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned. ~ Emily Dickinson

Mr. Ahrens teaches band & choir at Bear River High School in Grass Valley, CA.


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Google Voice Playing Assessments


As a Band Director, there never seems to be enough time to carry out any number of brilliant ideas (or pedagogical necessities) that I need to do with my ensembles. One of the many things that I’ve had trouble keeping up with is individual playing assessments. It is difficult to justify the time during an ensemble rehearsal of listening to each student, one by one. I have tried a number of different solutions: I’ve attempted to listen to a few each day. I’ve had those students not testing listen to the ones who were and do anonymous peer critiques. I’ve asked students to come back on their own time to test. I’ve attempted working with SmartMusic assignments. None of these has had much success or consistency. . . . → Read More: Google Voice Playing Assessments

Less Buzz, More Tone


… The second transformational thing I took in from Mr. Vizzutti was his thought on buzzing into your brass instrument. He says not to do it. What?! I know, I was confused for a minute too. He contends that we should not be teaching our beginning students to buzz. Instead we should focus on full, relaxed breathing and aggressive, sustained airflow through the horn. If a student were taught to create tone on their brass instrument without forcing the buzz from the start, their tone would be immediately more successful which would likely lead to a more promising development as a musician. . . . → Read More: Less Buzz, More Tone

Score Study or How I Became Inspired

Dr. Anthony Maiello at the American Band College

Something incredible happened. I was excited. Not in a professional way. Not because I was expected to be excited. Not because I wanted to kiss up to the director. Mr. Maiello simply made our rehearsals fun, passionate, musical, and real. He authentically emanated enthusiasm and optimism. We had been acquainted with the man for less than 5 minutes and we knew that he cared for us and for the music deeply. Not just because he told us, which he did, but because he lived it. It was obvious. . . . → Read More: Score Study or How I Became Inspired

Reaching the World


I started this music education blog nearly a year and a half ago primarily to focus my own thoughts about teaching, performance, and music. A secondary goal was to be able to share ideas with other music teachers that I have met on Twitter. There has been an unexpected third result which is the wide reach my blog has had across the world. . . . → Read More: Reaching the World

December Music Education Blog Carnival

Blog Carnival

Welcome to Sound Education and the December 2, 2011 edition of Music Education Blog Carnival.

I encourage you to grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and spend some time reading through these great blog submissions. If you don’t have time right now, bookmark the site and come back when you . . . → Read More: December Music Education Blog Carnival

Edublog Awards Nominations


This is a very difficult task – coming up with single nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards. But it seems fun, so I’m playing along.

Best Individual Blog

Dave Wilken’s very informative Blog: Wilktone. Great stuff on composition, brass playing, and jazz. Check it out!

Best Individual Tweeter

Well, there is . . . → Read More: Edublog Awards Nominations

Music Education Blog Carnival Coming Soon!



I’m pleased to announce that I will be hosting the December edition of the Music Education Blog Carnival here on Sound Education. This is the first opportunity I have had to be on this side of this great tradition and am looking forward reading some fabulous writing! . . . → Read More: Music Education Blog Carnival Coming Soon!

Student Band Arrangements


In addition to greater music theory content during rehearsal, I’ve introduced my students over the past two school years to music notation software. Last year we used primarily MuseScore for a few small composition assignments. I encouraged the students to download this great freeware program at home so they could experiment with it as well. This year I’ve also included Noteflight Crescendo accounts for all band students. The interfaces are quite different and each has its fans. I honestly don’t care which method they use for writing as long as they are writing. . . . → Read More: Student Band Arrangements

Blogging November

DCF 1.0

I really enjoy writing. And I dread it.

It can be one of the most enjoyable things for me to do for myself, but I seldom have the requisite time to dedicate to it or toward daily reading. It frustrates me when I don’t have the time to do things correctly. So, I just . . . → Read More: Blogging November

Weekly Practice Journal


When you’re focused on how long you have to practice, it can become torturous and boring – certainly not musical. Hitz suggested creating a journal that records what is practiced instead of minutes. When you practice because it’s fun and you love making music, time flies by and is spent more effectively. So for this year, I have created a new form – a Weekly Practice Journal. . . . → Read More: Weekly Practice Journal