On the one hand, I hate having to stop rehearsal to spend time doing it, but on the other hand I love the chance to hear each student individually and offer particular feedback to help them improve tone quality, rhythm counting, articulation, etc. The big problem I have always struggled with, though, is what in the world I should have the rest of the class do while I focus on one student at a time.
Over the years I have tried having the students sit quietly (ineffective and nerve racking for the test subject), read an article (better, but too short of an activity), and watch a video (easy and effective, but I soon run out if new videos to use...plus the sound is distracting to the test subject). Well now I have the perfect solution: music flashcards!
The students stay engaged for up to 30 minutes or more, and are doing an educationally rich activity. They can work alone for a while, and then with partners. They can test each other with or without a timer. They can play games that pit them against each other (8 games are included with the flashcards). It is so easy and so awesome!
Next time you need to assess your music class's playing skills, consider using the StepWise instrument fingering flashcards while doing it. You, and your students, will love it!