P. Eric Bottorff Music Educator

Thank you for visiting my online portfolio. On this page, you can watch recordings of ensembles I have directed as well as view sample lessons and assignments. To assist you in understanding my thought process, I have included a short list of strengths and points for improvement with each sample.

Please scroll to the bottom of the page to see ways in which I incorporate composition, reading, and writing into my performance classes.


The above video is from the 2016 Korean National Middle School Honor Orchestra where I conducted the advanced ensemble.

Strengths: In the Jig from St. Paul Suite, the musicians retained and performed my corrected bowing and articulations. The ensemble's use of dynamics and their ability to recover from minor mistakes is very mature.

Points for improvement: While the students were exceptionally well prepared, they were not as prepared for my conducting focus to be on the melody. More conducting attention should have been spent on keeping the beat. On the second piece, there are points where the phrase connections don't feel as natural as they could. Time in rehearsal could have been spent on feeling the tension and release here. The tempo is also too quick.


This video is of the second semester performance of my 6th grade band at Korea International School Jeju in 2016. The majority of the students had only been playing for one year but some had only been playing for this one semester (the majority of the low brass). This is one of the few ensembles that was a full year course.

Strengths: This was the start of their performance and was begun without any introduction in order to elicit a more dramatic response from the audience. This was successful. Minor mistakes, such as the bell player losing a beat were quickly corrected. The tympani player did an amazing job and chose to play a more complicated ossia part and does so very accurately (I wish he had harder mallets). Tonguing in the brass contains variations for multiple styles. There are few players using "who" and "poo" starts to their sound.

Points for Improvement: The theater manager placed microphones over the percussion and saxophones. The levels were different than the sound check levels and, as a result, the balance is off. The ends of phrases are tapered. This is partly a result of the students being tired (as it happens more later in the piece) and partly due to breath control. In class we discussed the mental side of breath control and what a good breath feels like but we did not strengthen the physiological aspects of breath control. The male saxophonist is trying to make up for the shortcomings of his neighbor by playing louder. This is pulling him out of tune.

This video represents the second semester performance of my 7th and 8th grade bands at Korea International School Jeju. This was a one semester only class but about 60% of the students took the class for the full year. This was the school's first attempt at doing a piece with non-standard notation and aleatoric sections. It was a bit of a mental stretch for many.

Strengths: The tubas sounded exceptional on their lowest notes. This was a challenge for them all semester. The off-stage percussion were split into two sections, each with a leader who gave cues, and they did exceptionally. The percussion was effective in it's representation of broken church bells rattling in the wind. The beginning clarinet/soprano sax duet was incredibly in tune and had a mature tone.

Points for Improvement: The flute entrance with the melody in very out of tune. I'm not convinced everyone is using the same fingerings and I know that many are just not in tune to begin with. There is a lack of dynamic range in the recording. The aleatoric "mumbling" sections could use more representation from lower voices to complete the effect.

Poster Vocabulary Lesson

This lesson was taught in a 1-to-1 computer school using Google Slides and Schoology as the classroom management platform. The samples shown are from a 6th grade classroom in their first semester of music.

Description: This lesson was designed to assist the students with learning musical vocabulary. As the majority of the students were English Language Learners as well, more details were added that required them to construct original sentences and create metaphors and similes in English. In order for the assessment to be authentic, the students selected the musical terms from their performance music.

Each poster was graded on a the school's 4 point rubric and inline with the National Music Standard MU:Cn11.0.T.8a - Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life.

Requirements: Each student had to create a poster individually. Each poster had to contain the following pieces of information:

  • A title (their musical term)
  • The dictionary's definition of their term
  • A rewording of the definition in their own words
  • A picture to act as a metaphor (either stock or created by them)

Results: Each of the above examples of student work each represent various strengths.

  1. The student who used the term "fortissimo" with an explosion in the background showed an understanding of how to achieve this effect on his instrument by saying "Are you out of breath yet?"
  2. This student used the term "forte" but chose to show the musical symbol instead. Her justification of her metaphor shows an understanding of the range of dynamic markings.
At the end of the project, all of the posters were hung to create a word wall.

Middle School Composition Lesson

This lesson was used as the capstone assignment each year. The basic structure of the assignment could be reused multiple years with the requirements changing to reflect the student's musical growth and development. The sample shown below is from a 7th and 8th grade class but I have done this assignment with high school students as well.

Description: At our school (and most schools in Asia) we do not have bells to change classes but little 4 measures tunes. Since the students are so used to hearing these tunes I decided a good introduction to composing would be to write new bells. The students are intimately familiar with the style of the bells so they can easily replicate them. We also have a technology initiative at our school so I had the students using Finale Notepad (a free program) and a template that I created with the accompaniment from the original bells already placed in.

I worked in collaboration with the technology department to have the program installed on each student's computer at the start of the semester. I also created a set of "How to videos" on our classroom management system to walk students through each step of the assignment as well as any sticking points they might run into

I also restructure the rehearsal space to include shared work spaces so students could work together to overcome hardships and ask for advice. There are also guitars and pianos placed throughout the room so the students could experiment to find melodic ideas.

Here are the kids actually doing the project. I had to remind them a few times that a melody (in the sense of what Im trying to get them to create) must be singable. The tables of girls to the left came up with the idea of having the program play the melody and having the entire table try to sing it in order to determine if it was a melody. 7th graders are clever.

At the end of the project, the students had the opportunity to Skype with a working composer, Jeffery Nicholas. During their Skype call, the students were able to see Mr. Nicholas complete the assignment himself as he describes his thought process. At the end of the call, the students were able to ask questions about music and what it is like being a composer.

Requirements: Each student received the same template for their composition. The template included instructions showing the students where each required element would go as well as walking them through the process of composing a composition in ABA form.

The template used by the students.
This is my modeled composition for the students.

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