Last Month on a Saturday morning I got up well before sunrise, dressed in full winter attire and drove an hour away to a testing center where I took the most horrible test of my life. I am not exaggerating. Worst. Test. Ever. = The Music Praxis.
The worst part about this Saturday morning ritual was turning into a pattern. I had done this before. I felt like a rat in maze. Let me out! The Praxis was the last step to me being a fully certified bone-a-fide teacher in the state of Utah. So when I went to take this test (I’ll admit it) I was cocky. I had good grades in college. I was a good student. I’m a good teacher. This would be a breeze. I didn’t study a bit.
Turns out it was NOT at all breezy. I scored ONE POINT less than the required for a Utah Teaching License. And I felt like a complete failure. A COMPLETE FAILURE. One more time…..A COMPLETE FAILURE.
Some of the test questions were easy. For example:
Puccini wrote which of the following Operas:
a. La Boheme
c. Appalachian Spring
d. The Marriage of Figaro
Who came first: Michael Jackson or the Beatles?
But others were so hard:
What fingering would a beginning Trombone player use in measure 13?
b. When in doubt guess b.
Which traditional Japanese instrument is heard in the following recording?
Identify the soloist (Recording of a Jazz dumber)
a. Benny Goodman
b. Jelly Roll Morton
c. Miles Davis
d. some guy I’d never heard that wasn’t Art Blakey of so I picked him.
Which arranger/composer would best fit the needs of and 8th grade Jazz band?
a. Some guy I’ve never heard of
b. Some other guy I didn’t know.
c. Some guy with an uber nerd name
d. Your mother.
Some questions were very opinion based for example:
What disastrous things will happen if a charter school is built near your high school?
What sequence is the best for teaching a passage of music to third grade students?
I sat there for two long hours listening to excerpts of music, studying scores and trying to wrap my ADD brain around 180 multiple choice questions.
And I learned a few important things in this process.
1. Standardized tests are a royal pain.
2. This would have been easier for me if I had actually majored in Music Education in college instead of Vocal Performance. read more about that here.
3. It is really hard to study material you never learned in the first place.
4. I hadn’t taken a multiple choice test since the ACT my senior year of High School.
5. I am not so great at multiple choice. I have to re-read test questions several times before I realize Ooooooooh OBVIOUSLY it is “B.”
6. Test taking is in and of itself a skill, one I have yet to master.
But it is over. I took it and passed it last month and did much MUCH better. And I was happy. Very happy. So very happy