Melissa Middle School poised for success with MusicFirst

“MusicFirst has given students individual accountability... the requirement has always been to practice, but now I have concrete evidence whether a student is following through or not. Students are able to practice on their schedule and I am able to give individual feedback on mine. Because of those two things, my students now have a much better understanding of my expectations, and in turn, they feel more responsible for meeting and exceeding them.”

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Elizabeth Becker, director of middle school bands at Melissa Middle School in Melissa, Texas, has seen MusicFirst help her program succeed exponentially since she started teaching there one year ago. Among other things, MusicFirst has helped make her students more accountable.

Becker uses software titles like PracticeFirst and Sight Reading Factory, and has found PracticeFirst to be particularly helpful because it challenges kids to strive for improvement in a fun, interactive way.

“PracticeFirst has been most helpful for us,” said Becker. “The way the program grades the students’ performance gives it a video game aspect which the kids enjoy. They see it as a challenge to beat their “high score,” and have begun practicing more than ever. Now, a 96 isn’t good enough; they want to go for the perfect run. PracticeFirst has raised both their expectations and mine.”

When asked about a particular student success story, Becker was reminded of a young trumpet player who was struggling to catch up with the rest of her students. But thanks to MusicFirst, the student improved at an accelerated rate.

“I have a 7th grade trumpet player in my top ensemble who is a beginner band student,” said Becker. “She was placed there because her schedule could not accommodate a beginner class or the non-varsity ensemble. For the fall semester, she did her best to learn with the group and through private lessons, but there was a huge ability gap and I had very little opportunity to work with her one-on-one. Once we started using MusicFirst in the spring, I was able to give her individual feedback multiple times a week. Through this feedback she was able to improve at an accelerated rate. I saw her practice more, grow as a musician, and improve like never before. MusicFirst gave her the opportunity to improve, all while being in an ensemble above her level, which would have never been possible before."

Melissa Middle School is a class CC middle school in Melissa, Texas. The band program currently has 192 members and is continuing to grow each year.

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