Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Recovery

Today I really played trombone for the first time since my stroke on December 11. I hadn't played at all in about three weeks. No excuse, I just hadn't been playing since I went on leave.

I am about 98% there. Now that might be OK for awhile, but that last two percent is the tough part. That last two percent is what enables me to play and think and adapt. I notice my reading is much improved, but I couldn't learn from my mistakes. If I made one error I kept making the same error. I would not feel comfortable to take a gig right now (not that anyone is calling...).

I expect to play a lot when I get back to school as we are doing the Aebersold Maiden Voyage in band. This will give me a chance to relearn my scales and see if I can apply them when I improvise.

I really need a choir accompanist. I worry about my ability to play piano and listen to choir at same time. I have a lot to relearn.

I find my writing has improved dramatically in the past week. I can write in paragraphs a lot better now. Still, it is not quite right (notice almsot every sentence starts with I). I still think in bullets and write the same way. I have trouble thinking macro form (beginning-middle-end).

Old Videos

Having some fun converting old videos.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CMEA 2011 Conference

Today we learned that we will be presenting at the 2011 Connecticut Music Educators Conference (CMEA). We will present a session titled "iPads in Schools". We hope to perform the winning compositions from the iPad composition contest.

I hope to get the students heavily involved in this presentation. Let us know what you would like to see!

Qwiki and Search

I have been fooling around with Qwiki. I really think this is a cool shift in how we search.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who is in your Top Ten?

Recently the nytimes did a series choosing the top 10 composers.

Who are the ”essential” composers/musicians that we should cover? When a student graduates from our schools they should be able to recognize major works by the artist, have a conversation about them, and have some sort of historical reference. More than ”Beethoven was deaf”.

Who do we think MUST be included? Lets recognize that their might be regional differences. Only pick ten.

JS Bach
Louis Armstrong
Leonard Bernstein
The Beatles
Woody Guthrie

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have been put on leave. I am not sure how long I will be out. I don't expect it to be long. We are very lucky that we have a nice lady coming off a long-term sub position at the middle school. She will be able to step right in.

Here are my general ideas for the spring:

1. Choir: repertoire choices include Hey You (Larsen), Sisters (Walker) and maybe doing some Glee stuff. I want to spend most of February on Broadway and solo singing.
2. Band: we are going to get started on the Aebersold books. I'm hoping this will work. This is a tough group and I have been looking for something that will encourage them to work. I haven't found it yet.
3. Music Theory. Combination of push towards the AP test in May and lots of creating. We hope to move forward with the iPad ensemble and perform at several spots. I have several projects ready to go for this group.
4. Elementary band: We had to cancel our winter concert due to my health. Not sure if we will do just the spring concert or spring concert plus a mini-concert. I hope to get several new pieces out to them. I hope to do the Aebsersold books with them too.

In addition:
1. Grant writing. 2011 grants will be due in early Spring.
2. Organizing. I need to really streamline how I do my work. Since the stroke I can't keep it in my head.
3. Getting help. I need help. I can't do this by myself. I need to recruit active, dependable helpers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How The iPad is Changing the Music Department

Guest post by Andrea Avila and Kylea Jackson who are seniors in my choir.

In September 2010, my choir class received fifteen iPad's to broaden our music technology knowledge. We use the iPad's for a variety of things. We use them for practicing our songs by going onto the internet and going to to learn how to sight-read.

We can also use Youtube to look up different songs and different artists. Also the iPad has the piano app and we use it to practice the notes. Another cool thing about the iPad is that we can record the song we sing.

Whats changed so far is that we don't just use them for fun, we actually use them for things in our class. We use them for education and I love them. It's also about the experience in working with this type of technology that can better advance us in the music field.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Theory Exams

So I have been trying to make the classroom more learner-centered. Its kind of working.

I had an idea for students to write their own exams. Its not a new idea, but I though I would give it a shot.

Today we did the following:
1. I asked them to list what they have learned in class.
2. We discussed. They listed things like "scales, solfeg, etc...". We talked about this is really learning that music is organized sound.
3. I asked them to prove it. Prove they learn what they said they learned. I did not give them suggestions on how to do this. I did not want to be the creative force. They need to think up ideas.
4. I asked them to come with ideas tomorrow. "I have learned that _________ and I will prove I have learned this by doing/making/writing ________________ "

Hopefully, it works. I'll post how it goes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Health Update

Heading to the hospital tomorrow for a heart test and carotid ultrasound. Trying to figure out why I had the stroke.

My writing is almost completely back to normal and my talking is 95% there. I'm going to start therapy this week. My short term memory is pretty shot.

Lots to do at school with exams, regionals, and two elementary concerts.