Kaitlin Bunger's Portfolio Page


Navigation links: ETAP 623 Fall 2023 | K. Bunger: At-Home Practice and Beginning Instrumental Music Course Page

About Me

Hi! I'm Kaitlin, an Instrumental Music Teacher in New York State. I primarily teach Beginning Band students in grades 4-6, with 4th grade being the first available year for the Band Program. I also have experience working with older and more experienced student-musicians in extra-curricular ensembles such as Middle School Jazz Band (grades 6-8), competitive Field Band (grades 7-12), and Indoor Percussion Ensemble (also grades 7-12). Additionally, I teach private lessons to local students (grades 4-12) and I work as an Applied Music Instructor at a local two-year college.

Mini-Course Topic and Purpose

I have been involved in music, however casually or professionally, for most of my life. As a result, I have both had and met many wonderful teachers. Despite this, I have not formally learned how to help students create an effective practice routine for themselves. I have learned myriad tips, tricks, and terms when it comes to improving my own musicianship, but there was very nothing in my training that focused on helping students design their own practice regimens or sessions.

This mini-course aims to address the gap that exists between assigning a student to practice and a student sitting down at home and playing their instrument without a well-rounded and educationally supported plan in place. This course aims to address not only the design of personalized practice regimens in an attempt to empower students to take control of their own learning, but to encourage participants to embrace the multifaceted naturing of practicing. A more holistic approach to practicing has the potential to reach more students, especially those who face adverse practicing conditions outside of school.

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

Knowledge: Mini-course participants will discover and define multiple forms of practice beyond traditional repetition-based assignments.

Skills: At the end of the mini-course, participants will be able to create simple visual practice guides for students (via Google Sheets) using new definitions and practice session framework.

Attitudes: This mini-course will empower participants to broaden their definitions of practicing (particularly at-home practicing) as it applies to beginning student musicians, while recognizing the need for multiple definitions in order to tackle opportunity equity in instrumental music education.

A note:

This mini-course will use musical terminology and therefore might be better suited for music education applications. This is not to say that understanding theories of practice does not have value in extra-musical settings. Participants with musical backgrounds will benefit the most from this mini-course, as they will understand its specific vocabulary and also be able to apply what they've learned not only in music but in other areas of their lives.

Needs Assessment

  • Educational Opportunity
    • The opportunity exists to expand definitions and accessibility of musical practice, and to empower the students of participants to take control of their own learning.
  • Mini-course Participants
    • Primarily music instructors and, potentially, parents of music students.
  • Gap Analysis
    • Currently (Known):
      • Music educators know a great deal about musicianship and music instruction
      • Music educators tend to teach students to practice using the same methods they were taught by their instructors
      • Music educators tend to ubiquitously assign at-home practice work without helping students allow for individual schedules and home situations
    • Ideally (Need to Know):
      • Music educators will be able to explain multiple definitions and opportunities for practicing
      • Music educators will be able to help students select the practice methods that suit both educator goals/curricula as well as student-driven goals/availability
  • Existing Efforts to Address This Gap
    • New technologies are increasingly readily available to students. Students are able to record themselves playing and upload the video to a teacher for feedback. Some schools have subscriptions to programs like MakeMusic Cloud, which analyzes performances in real-time and provides immediate feedback (regarding things such as pitch and tempo). Additionally, these programs also have stored accompaniments, lesson assignments, and ensemble repertoire (both printed music and recorded).
      • Technologies, however, are not universally available to all students (particularly at home) and do not often address the need for more forms of practice besides repetition. They do not assist students in taking ownership of what they might need in order to accomplish their musical goals, or to establish personalized routines.
  • Intent Statement
    • This mini-course intends to help participants:
      • Expand their definitions of at-home practice
      • Empower their students to create their own practice routines so they can take their personal schedules, opportunities, and preferences into account

About the Course Participants and the Course Context

  • Course Participants:
    • Are familiar with traditional (typically Western) music education pedagogy, especially regarding individual practice and scholastic ensemble music expectations
    • Are looking to support music students as they learn to build practice routines for themselves while considering multiple variables
    • Can apply this knowledge to a wide range of student ages and ability levels, making adjustments where necessary
  • Course Context:
    • This course is designed to be self-paced and asynchronous
    • This course requires an internet connection and access to Google Sheets (or equivalent program)
    • Depending on the length and depth of personal reflections, this course will take under 30 minutes to complete

Participant Performance Objectives

After completing this mini-course, participants will be able to:

  • Define and explain multiple practice methods
  • Define "practice" as it relates to their personal music education philosophy and/or program goals
  • Explain to students the varied and individualized nature of practicing
  • Assist students with goal-setting as it relates to music practice
  • Create individualized practice plan visualizations
  • Instruct their students in creating personal practice plans for themselves

Task and Content Analysis

To get the most out of this course, participants should have the following prerequisite knowledge, skills, or experiences:

  1. Familiarity with musical terminology and contemporary scholastic instrumental music education
  2. A history of, or interest in, practicing a skill or trade (e.g. a musical instrument, woodworking, playing a sport, etc.) for reflection purposes
  3. Teaching a student in their skill/trade, especially in a public education setting

Additionally, participants should have access to the following materials:

  1. An Internet connection
  2. [Familiarity with the] Google Suite (particularly Docs and Sheets), or similar word processing and spreadsheet programs
  3. Time and space to practice
  4. Time and space to reflect


Unit 1: Expanding Your "Practice"

After completing this unit, the participant will be able to:

  • define as well as recognize the value and validity of multiple facets of practice beyond the traditional "slow-to-fast" (woodshedding) method
  • analyze their own practice routine after tracking their own practice
  • examine the equity of traditional at-home practice expectations within instrumental music

Unit 2: Practice Content and Construction

After completing this unit, the participant will be able to:

  • define multiple methods of practice routine construction
  • analyze practice methods as they relate to short and long-term goal setting
  • assign appropriate practice methods to students based on individualized abilities, goals, and environments

Unit 3: Visualizing Practice

After completing this unit, the participant will be able to:

  • use Google Sheets to create a quick, concise, and attractive visualization of a practice complete session while considering:
    • the priorities of the instructor/curriculum
    • the abilities and goals of individual students
    • equitable expectations of students, especially where practice opportunities/environments are concerned
  • assist students in creating these visualizations for themselves, giving students ownership over their own goal setting and practice routines

Curriculum Map

At-Home Practice and Beginning Instrumental Music Curriculum Map

References and Resources

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