Music for the classroom: pedagogy from music lessons with Chris Bromley

CJB_guitar-magicMusic for the classroom: pedagogy lessons from music lessons with Chris Bromley

Student Success Podcast No. 12
Jan. 9, 2014 (* interview recorded Nov. 22, 2013).

Today’s Guest: Chris Bromley

Christopher discusses his strategies for teaching music and compares learning music with regular classroom learning. His music program, School of Rock, holds strong examples and practices that can be employed in the traditional classroom. One of the biggest lessons Chris brings to classroom teachers is the need for students to practice independently, exploring and building curiosity and interests independently, then applying it — performing it – in the larger classroom.

student-success-podcast_cover_1800 Subscribe to Student Success Podcast RSS
or find us on iTunes


Guest Biography

Chris Bromley studies computer science and pre-Med in Florida. While in school for himself, he also teaches music at the School of Rock in Broward County, Florida. Chris studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has recorded in the studio for professional and well-known acts, and he performs across the state of Florida.

Topics Discussed

  • Christopher’s experiences as student and teacher of music
  • School of Rock program
    • extracurricular program
    • learning through performance
    • enjoying the learning
    • sharing the learning with other students v. traditional rote learning, which is not-performance based
  • learning music:
    • enough practice someone can create a perfect performance through memory and precise repetition of what was practiced during the performance
      • excellent musicians are not necessarily good performers
      • good performers can exist without good musical skills, happens all the time
      • School of Rock tries to develop both sides of musicianship and performance
    • Michael experience: scales, practice, practice, practice
    • = traditional learning environment
    • School of Rock = pedagogically sound: guided instruction + independent practice = what should be going on in all classrooms
    • Christopher: practice of scales and notes is necessary but is a basis, not the outcome, which is enjoyment and performance
  • Chris’ school’s methods
  • weekly individual and group time
  • individual lessons = core skills development and practice
  • he engages students through exploring their own interests, then applies their skills to the assigned music
  • Michael: how many math classes have 15 minutes of exploring every day?  How many history classes?
    • Chris: easier to do with one-on-one lessons
    • group work: applying independent learning, no longer exploring. The point is to apply their independent learning
    • can have kids of different skill levels and abilities joint together
    • Michael: group work in regular classrooms is very difficult to pull off
    • maybe we do it wrong: we see group work as opportunity for kids to explore and engage, whereas it should be performance
    • we give the same group work to every kid … makes no sense! we should allow for different levels and outcomes given different skills and abilities
  • How to engage kids through the lessons Chris brings up about leraning music
      • admitting that his program is self-selected and kids enjoy music (unlike regular school)
      • still: how to apply the successes of the music program to the regular classroom?
        • students have to be serious and follow rules
        • students have to be happy about the learning
        • help kids explore their own interests, BUT, exploration is good and useful for kids, but they still need guidance.
          • a kid may like Justin Bieber and want to explore his music, but Chris’ school will teach the student other types of music regardless
        • It needs to be more about the students than about the teachers
        • advice to teachers: be enthusiastic about what they’re teaching
  • Chris’ own high school experience:
    • was told always how smart he was, but what he needed was organizational skills
    • his English teacher, Ms. Goldstein, empowered him by giving him free reign to explore his own interests beyond what the class was doing
    • challenged him: gave him another reading, Dante’s Inferno, and made that his assignment, since he had already read Of Mice and Men and was bored with it.
    • Michael: there must be something in every subject that can be of interest



Host: Michael L. Bromley
Original Music by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Background snoring: by Stella
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck, Stella, &, introducing, Artemis:

Welcoming Artemis (in back), Puck’s birth-sister whom we adopted for Christmas!






Here for Puck & Stella slideshow