Episode 5 – Matt Abraham and Shannon Little (Part 1)

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Hello and welcome to Band Together, a six-part series exploring how different music teachers foster positive classroom cultures in their band room. In this series, I interview six band teachers and discuss their general views on a positive culture and what strategies they use to implement it.

In this fifth episode, I’m talking with Matt Abraham and Shannon Little, two music educators co-teaching at a large, urban high school. Both of them have thought a lot about the culture of their band room: They come out of the gate swinging with concepts like belonging and student empathy. As you hear them describe their space and strategies, it’s immediately evident that the positive culture they’re trying to foster is intentional and on purpose. But, as we’ve heard in our previous conversations, that’s not to say that it doesn’t require management, which we’ll hear all about coming up.

Because this interview is with two people instead one (like previous episodes), it’s split into two parts. Many elements of our talk feel conversational and, at times, diverge from the question. I’ve decided to leave these parts in because, sometimes, the winding trail of conversation provides important context to what we’re talking about, even if it seems to go in a different direction.

Also, it’s prudent to say that, while sending out the preparatory material for the interviews, I made a mistake with Shannon’s email address and didn’t catch it until it was almost too late; instead Steve Little received an interesting bundle of culture research prep and Shannon had to go into the interview cold. Don’t worry, both her and Matt do great and were a joy to speak with.

The show is available at bandtogetherpodcast.com or on Apple podcasts and Google Play. Listen at your computer or on the go. The results of the research are published via two papers in Canadian Winds, a peer-reviewed journal for instrumental music educators.

You can contact me at kenley[at]kenleykristofferson[dot]com or at my website at http://www.kenleykristofferson.com. Follow me on twitter @kenley_k and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kenley.

(Fun fact: the trumpet solo in this post’s featured image on the website was played by Shannon during “Transcendent Light’s” premiere and it was one for the record books.)

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