Posts Tagged ‘classroom music’


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Virgil Bozeman

March 21, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series


This is the third blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 62 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 5.23.50 PMVirgil Bozeman IV has been teaching at Richmond Middle/High School for 17 years. He teaches 150 students in grades 6-12 Choral and Classroom Music, the total population grades 6-12 is 270. Virgil has four choruses, grades 6, 7/8, and two high school. In addition he teaches grade 6 and 8 General Music and AP Music Theory.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

I believe that music educators are in the enviable position of being able to leverage naturally intense student interest to promote critical thinking, demand strong work ethic and introduce students to the incredible depth and breadth of our tradition. It is easier to get students to sing Rachmaninoff than to read Tolstoy.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Quality repertoire
  2. Individualized assessment
  3. Quality repertoire

I know this is pithy, but I firmly believe that great music is the best teacher my students will have.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Simply put, the better I have become at assessing individual student growth, the more my individual students have grown. I used to think that changing the way I assessed would necessitate a drastic change in my teaching methods. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Across the state our music/art/dance/drama colleagues are doing innovative work in the area of student assessment. Many are already involved in MALI, as are a ever-growing number of teaching-artists. It is a tremendously fertile collaborative environment. I can always count on the fact that solutions are already being developed and tested for assessment challenges that I am experiencing in my classroom and ensembles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud when graduates from Richmond High School continue be active music makers in college and beyond.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?


Virgil, center, in deep discussion with colleagues at the MALI summer institute, August 2015.

I am lucky to teach in a supportive small school with a terrific student/teacher ratio that allows me to focus more easily on the individual needs of students. That being said, our small size can sometimes be a barrier, both in limiting the repertoire I can introduce to our students, and working within a schedule that can prevent interested high-school students from being able to enroll in music classes/ensembles throughout their careers.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Creating the culture and expectation that our students will have to approach music from styles/cultures/languages that lie far outside their immediate experiences and interests. I used to think it was just “something in the water” in Richmond, but now recognize how important it was to remain true to this vision, even when students occasionally exhibited frustration at not being able to sing enough of “their music”.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

When I first arrived in Richmond, the school had just cycled through four teachers in a five year span. That turnover had sapped the continuity and morale of the music program. Don’t think that the grass is necessarily greener somewhere else. Most arts educators encounter barriers where they work, be they schedule, budgetary, cultural, or facilities-based. If it feels as though there are too many barriers to building and maintaining a quality program at your school, it just means that there is important work that needs doing, and nobody is better suited to this work than you.

Also, keep searching for opportunities to improve your musical chops. We need to model life-long learning to our students, and they need to see us doing it.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Make a lead gift for the construction of a suitable performance space at my school, sock away living expenses to take a sabbatical to finally pursue a DMA in choral conducting.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

Aside from not knowing how they kept my corpse animated for 20+ years, I will regret knowing that there were students who could have learned so much about themselves through learning how to use their voices, and either they never walked through my classroom door, or I failed to reach them when they did. IMG_0087


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Alice Sullivan

March 27, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the second in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read their stories and to learn from others. This post features Alice Sullivan who has been teaching music for 27 years. Alice is one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Teacher Leaders, Phase I, and represents the region of Washington County.

Alice is currently teaching, grades K-12, at Woodland Jr. Sr. High School, Woodland Elementary School and Princeton Elementary School. She has been there for 6 years teaching 200 students, band program grades 4-12, some classroom music K-4 and junior high general music, digital arts class and music theory at the high school, and one small elementary chorus.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

I really like the opportunity to use my organizational skills in an environment where I can also be creative. The music room is a great place to find a balance between hard and fast standards and finding numerous ways of meeting those standards. Twenty seven years of concerts with no two being the same, but every year I strive to provide every student with the same well rounded music education.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  •  a commitment to stretching the limits (your own and those around you)
  • a belief that what you do is important
  • enough confidence in your skills to take risks

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

Developing solid assessment practices sends the message to those around you that you believe your program is valuable and worthy of reflection. This instills a sense of importance in your students and as a result they strive to reach higher goals. I often say to my students – “who wants to belong to the good enough club”? An assessment is a tangible way for my students to prove the level they have attained, to themselves and others.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

There have been so many benefits to being part of the arts assessment initiative. The first that comes to mind is the great opportunity to network with other educators. It has also helped to keep assessment practices foremost in my daily teaching. With so many things to do each week, priorities become a necessity. Having weekly connections through the arts initiative wiki has ensured that assessments make my priority list.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’ve always believed that music is a gift that all students can and should receive. My classes have always been available to all students. I’m most proud of the moments when the reluctant musicians realized they did have musical talent.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?


Apple or PC?

Both – depends on the job I want to get done.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Exceptional concerts are a reflection of hard work and determination. A good performance is often attributed to talent or “good” students. I believe even very young and inexperienced performers can present quality programs with hard work and determination.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Enjoy what you do. Focus on the positive forces in your environment and link arms with those who also have a positive outlook.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I would travel. I want to see the world and share those experiences with the people around me.

This is a link to the wiki that Alice created that includes her marvelous resources: If you have comments or questions for Alice please put them in the “comment” section below.

Thank you Alice for telling your story!

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