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Class Requirement
  1. 3 ring binder

  2. Pencils

  3. Verizon iPad

  4. Pocket folder

California State Standards for MUSIC

Click on the link below to see the content standards for MUSIC in California.

California State Standards: MUSIC K-12

Programs we are Using

Mrs. Brusca

Welcome to the Christopher Columbus Middle School Music Department

Students who participate in a music class:

  • Get better grades

  • Do well on the SAT or ACT exams

  • Better memory

  • Gain time managment and organizational skills

  • Increase team skills

  • Develop patience and perseverance

  • More likely to stay in school

  • Improve reading and comprehension skills

…and they also have fun making music.

TIME magazine article How Music Can Change Your Brain

Psychology Today article  Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter



Why You Need to Practice your Instrument

What is Practicing?

Practice is the process of getting closer to achieving your goals. When we practice, we take elements of our playing that we find difficult, and play them carefully until they are easy. Once what you are practicing becomes second nature, playing your instrument becomes a lot of fun. It will take lots of hard work and concentration. If it doesn’t, then you are probably doing it wrong.

How often should you practice your instrument?

There really are no rules when it comes to practicing your instrument. Instead there are suggestions and ideas from your teacher that will help you to become a better player.

One such suggestion is to practice in small chunks rather than once a week for hours. When you practice, you develop Myelin (watch the video below).  Some call it "muscle memory." This is where you learn to do the movements without having to think about it. Practicing once a week, for an hour straight  will make you tired and forget what you learned.  If the only time you play your instrument is in class, then your muscles will have trouble remembering what they did.  You end up going over the same thing again and again. Music isn’t fun when you’re not getting better.

When you practice, consistency is important. Try to practice a minimum of three days a week for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Spread these days out so they don’t happen in a row, and figure out the best time for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in one 15 minute chunk. Make sure you have a plan; and that your plan is achievable! It’s never going to happen if you don’t sit down and pick up the instrument.

Is your practice a waste of time?

-Small amounts of regular practice is much better than a massive session on the weekend.-

If you don’t practice correctly, then your practice is a waste of time. If your goal is to have fun, then there is no point in sitting down to practice and playing something you're already an expert at for 10 to 15 minutes. Spend a minute or two warming up, so the muscles in your hands aren’t stiff, and then work on something difficult.  When you’re practicing something technical, work on specific goals.

What you need when you sit down to practice your instrument:

  1. Goals – Start with the end in mind - by having a goal for each practice session before you start playing, you will find you progress more quickly and effectively.  Break each goal down into smaller objectives. You will feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each goal.

  2. Music and resources – Check Schoology.  The music maybe on your Course page.
  3. Tuner – Go to Google Play or Apple App Store for great apps. There are lots of free ones.
  4. Metronome or backing tracks – Go to Google Play or Apple App Stores for apps. Use Schoology for background music.
  5. Notebook – so you can write down what you’re practicing, what you’re finding hard, and what you can work on.
  6. Record yourself - When you record your practice sessions you will hear some things you may want to consider doing differently or things that you missed while practicing or performing. Consider filming yourself as well, you may notice something things you were unaware of. 

Watch the video from TED Ed to understand what practicing does to your brain.

This can apply to everything from music to sports. Effective practice is "consistent, intensely focused, targeting content or weaknesses that lie at the edge of one's current abilities." In other words: Don't waste your time practicing the stuff you already know, just to fill up time.

Quotes from the video:

  • "Focus at the task on hand." Shut off all those digital distractions. No excuses.
  • "Start out slowly, or in slow motion. Coordination is built with repetitions." Practice slowly and then increase your speed while still playing the music correctly.
  • "Frequent repetition with allotted breaks are common practice habits of elite performers." Split your practice time into smaller chunks, working multiple times a day.
  • "Practice in your brain, in vivid detail."  Visualize playing your music without actually playing it. Put yourself through the music, note by note. Imagine what it feels like to press that key, or take that breath, every step of the way.
Meet Your Teacher


My name is Mrs. Brusca and I have been teaching at Columbus for 28 years.  As a graduate of UCLA, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Music Performance on the clarinet.  Music has always been a part of me.  It’s kind of hard not to follow in my family’s footsteps when I have 6 uncles that are musicians.  Starting with the piano at 4, I progressed to the clarinet at 10 and added the guitar to my repertoire at 14 years old.  I studied clarinet with Yehuda Gilad at the Colburn School of Performing Arts and with Gary Gray at UCLA.   In May of 2016, I was named one of LAUSD Teacher of the Year and selected as a semi-finalist for the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.  In June of 2017, I was selected as one of ten music teachers in the nation to receive the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award.  I love teaching because I am very passionate about music and helping my students to develop patience, perseverance and a lifetime of memories.UCLA Band.jpg

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