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

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