Thursday, June 11, 2015

Final Project

As our final project in Band I assigned students the following:

Perform, record, edit, and publish a multi-part ensemble piece.  This piece must contain at least three parts (trio), and can have up to 5 parts (quintet).  You will perform all the parts on your band instrument.


  • Choose song from ensemble books.  I recommend the quartet books we have been using.  Percussion: I would choose a percussion ensemble piece or drumline song.
  • Practice.
  • Record using Garageband.  I will help you get started.
  • Edit recordings, adjust balance.
  • Publish to youTube or Soundcloud.  If you publish to your account, send me the link.  

Students will be judged on your tone, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, style, articulations, and attention to detail.  You will also be judged on your ability to meet deadlines and work with the technology.

Here are some examples of student work:



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Twelve Angry Juror Reflections

Responses from students for our play Twelve Angry Jurors which we performed on April 23 and 24, 2015.

12 Angry was a success

Yes13100%
No00%

I learned a lot about myself and others by doing 12Angry

Yes13100%
No00%

The best performance was

Wednesday dress00%
Thursday753.8%
Friday646.2%



I now understand what it takes to put on a HS play.

Yes13100%
No00%

I think SHS should do a drama/comedy every year.

Yes13100%
No00%

I learned a lot about drama during this play. I directed and acted in this play and it taught me a lot more about what it takes to put on a show. I learned that learning your lines is the absolute first step because everything after that becomes a lot easier. Once everyone is on the same page with lines, we can add more details and energy to our acting. It is also a lot harder to be a part of a play rather than a musical. A musical is difficult because there is singing, dancing, and acting involved, but performing in a play is a bit more challenging. In this play, we were on stage the entire time, so if someone made a mistake they couldn't just be offstage for the next scene and walk it off. Plays also require a lot more lines to be memorized and that is very hard to learn an hour and a half of lines. This play taught me that there is a lot more to drama than just acting; there is a lot of preparation behind the scenes that takes a lot of time and effort. 


I learned that a drama, especially this one, has a far different dynamic from a musical. I learned that it takes every single person putting in that effort to practice at home, to be focused in practice, and be completely involved during the play.

I learned that doing a play is definitely a lot harder than doing a musical because you have to memorize each and every line and even the lines before so you know when to come in. With musicals its mostly songs that are easy to learn. I learned it takes a lot of time and effort and you cant put only half of your effort into it. You need to completely immerse yourself into it.

The practices were absolutely amazing. I loved seeing us figure out certain reactions and laugh and get along really well. I loved the fun parts and getting to know each other over time. During the performances i was definitely terrified because i had never done a play and i was so scared to have to know all my lines and i was afraid to mess up. I was really proud of everyone and how hard they worked on it. Im sad now that its over because i haven't had that much fun after school in a while but i hope to work with the same people again on other things.

My emotions during the performance included pride for all of the work we had done to get to the point. It was the first drama of hopefully many more to come. I was nervous at first with the crowd being right there for the entire show, but that stopped once we started. At the end of it all I was so happy with the work we did and so glad to have been a part of the experience. 

I experienced a lot of emotions during 12 Angry Jurors. I think there was a time when everyone thought this play would not work out. We went through a lot of obstacles and I admit that I was a little scared. But I am so proud of everyone for performing to our best ability and making 12 Angry a success. I was most nervous at the beginning of the Thursday show because of the audience. It was so different having the audience right there surrounding us because we didn't want to make a mistake. It look a little getting used to because I didn't know where to look or if they could tell they were making me nervous. Once I got completely into the scene, I forgot they were there; I think this happened to a lot of us. 12 Angry Jurors was a great experience for me. I had so much going to rehearsals and getting both work done, and having those awesome, random laughs with the rest of the cast. I am so proud of everyone for pulling it all together and putting on a great show! 






Monday, March 30, 2015

Content

I have been debating with my class at University of Bridgeport about content.  Do music teachers teach historical content (Mozart, Louis Armstrong, etc...) or do we teach musical concepts (tone, intonation, etc...)?  If we need to teach Mozart WHEN and HOW do we do it?

The list can be infinite really quickly.  I have a hard time with "the student should study who they want".  We should teach something about Mozart in their twelve years in public schools.  The student should know at least this about Mozart:

  • He was really, really good.
  • He died young.
  • He wrote a lot of Operas, Symphonies, and other stuff.
  • They should have a pretty good idea its Mozart if we drop the needle.
But, how do we fit it in to our schedule?  Do we teach it through repertoire, worksheets, youTube videos?

Most of us would be aghast if we asked a student about Mozart and they said "who?".  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Concert

A great concert last night where we combined the MS Glee Club (6-8th grade) and the HS choirs.

MIOSM 2015 Concert


 SHS Chorale
  1. Star Spangled Banner…………………………...….………………..arr. Deke Sharon
  2. Sweet Dreams…………………………………………….………..……..arr. Deke Sharon

SHS Choir
   1.   Festival Sanctus………………….…………………..………………………….John Leavitt
   2. Seal Lullaby…………………………………………………………………..…..Eric Whitacre
   3.   Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie…………………...Leadbelly, arr. Moira Smiley
Stephanie Tabaka, solo
   4.   A Whole New World………………………………..……Alan Menken and Tim Rice
Matt Moran, Abigail Andrade, soloists

SMS Glee Club
   1.   Say Something………….…………………………….………………………...Alex Preston
   2.   Safer………………………………………………………….……………………………...First Aid
Peyton Iott, solo
   3.   Lay Me Down…………………………………………..…………………………...Sam Smith
Catherine Dolan, solo
   4.   Us …………………………………………………………..……………………..Regina Spektor
Rose Washbrook, Violin

Combined Choirs
  1. Shenandoah……………………..………………………………...…...arr. Rollo Dillworth
Megan Meyer, Flute
  1. Bonse Aba………………………………………………………………….arr Victor Johnson
     Sarah Masotta, Galianna Erazo, solos

Friday, February 13, 2015

Who Am I?

My first assignment in my Secondary Methods Class at University of Bridgeport is to read peter Boonshaft's Teaching Music with Purpose (he has three similar books).  Students then write a blog post answering what their core values are.  Here was my assignment two years ago.

I got an assignment from my Superintendent to spend professional development time today on a project of my choosing.  I choose to reflect on my post from two years ago and reread the Boonshaft.

My core value list from 2013:
  • Be on time.  Be professional.
  • Honor the music.  Respect the composer.  
  • You must read the music.  It is the key to unlocking musical secrets.
  • Each student has a musical voice.  Sometimes they need to discover it.
I do not think any of these have changed.  I do believe if you asked my students what my core values are they would be able to make the same list.

One thing I might add is that I love projects, whether it is pioneering Palm computers, iPads and the Symphony, or restarting a Drama program.  I feel students love the NEW.

While re-reading Boonshaft I was reminded of two aspects of teaching:
  • You need access to high quality literature, instruments, and students.  I have some control of the first, little control over the second, and little control over the third.  
  • You need to spend a crazy amount of time on conducting practice, score study, and rehearsal planning.  I teach Band AND choir, AND three sections of American Government.  I have 45 minutes per day to do budget, fix instruments, make copies, grade papers.  I need to find time to improve rehearsals by doing the proper amount of study.
So how am I working on this?
  • Today, as an example, I am meeting with my Middle School colleague to review repertoire, develop strategies for sharing assessments and music, and review conducting basics.
  • I need to find ways to "farm out" tasks.  My administrative load is insane.  Between the field trip forms, $$ deposits, CMEA paperwork, iPad updates, etc... The more I organize, the better.
  • Teaching the class at UB forces me to reflect on my practice AND have students critique it.  
  • I read a lot.  Not nearly as much as I did before my stroke (its hard...).
  • I am pushing for grant funds to improve our instrument library.  We simply do not have enough instruments.  We are WAY ahead of where we were 5 years ago when I arrived, but we are a good $200,000 behind similar schools with quality programs.  We currently have no students in district playing oboe, bassoon, horn, tuba, or baritone sax.  
  • I am beginning to organize our library.  This, I believe, would take me 150 hours of work.  But I have to do it.  See above for the 45 minutes per day I get...
  • I conduct MUCH worse since my stroke.  I need to find someone to help me with this.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

P-Bone Mini

P-Bone Mini:
I have a p-Bone mini which is an alto trombone. It works pretty well.
1. I'd like to use it to play along with the band. But I have to learn how to play it. The positions for an alto are different than a tenor, so its basically learning a new instrument. Should I learn the positions by reading Alto Sax parts? Obviously if I was going to play orchestral music I'd learn the traditional way (alto clef, etc..) but thats not at all how I will use it.

2. What is the theory of letting kids learn on the mini (1st grade or so) and then having them convert to tenor. Same issues (different positions, etc...).