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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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

Quick Melody Composition in Band Class

For now the plan is for a rising tide of theory competence to lift all students, regardless of grade level, to what will be our starting point standard for next year. I will then have a differentiated plan in place to continue the advancement of the older kids while starting the process over for the new member. Of course, this is how it should have always been, but I have been more focused on performance outcome and this segment of the curriculum has received short shrift. . . . → Read More: Quick Melody Composition in Band Class

Life Lesson #6: Situational Awareness

Are you familiar with the music in all of its complexity or are you simply reading one note following another? This level of situational awareness is huge in creating an artistic performance. As teachers, we need to be bringing our students up to this level of awareness and providing them the tools needed to research, study, and practice on their own to this end. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #6: Situational Awareness

Finding the Musical Balance

I am resolute to better reflect all of the national music standards in my bands. I am making the time to teach theory away from the rehearsal; in desks with pencil and paper. My students are or will be listening to, analyzing, arranging, and composing music in my ensemble classes. Our performance level may suffer for the shortened rehearsal time but I don’t think it will. My leap of faith is that I believe my students will become more engaged, more aware, and will be better musicians. . . . → Read More: Finding the Musical Balance

Tech Innovations in Music Education

The topic chosen for discussion recently on the Twitter hashtag #MusEdChat was: “What innovations in Music Education have occurred over the last 10 years? What impact has it had on teachers/students?” There have been PLENTY of innovations recently. I thought I would write a reflection on the topic in a forum that allows . . . → Read More: Tech Innovations in Music Education

Blues Improv / Composition Assignment

I’m really pushing to include more theory and more composition in my ensemble classes this year. While I’ve always recognized the importance of such things, available class time has fallen prey to the ever impending performance. But my students are not getting experience in composition any where else. Most of them are . . . → Read More: Blues Improv / Composition Assignment