Sunday, November 20, 2011


I love the regional or all-state audition experience.  I took nine kids this year (1 last year) and I am certain this will be a huge help in our growth as a program.  Even though we didn't all make the ensemble I believe all students learned sooo much in the two hours they were there.  I believe we were among the best prepared students there.

But, I hate the audition process too.  I live in a very diverse state and it seems  for many of the auditions you almost HAVE to be taking private lessons, which there is no way many of my kids can afford.  The audition pool is much less diverse than our state.  I love learning the 24 Italian Songs, but in twenty years we have not sung a Festival choir song in Italian.

The audition process has so much good.  But do we spend 90% of our MEA time on the top 5%?  Are there ways we could make the process much more diverse and inclusive?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A few tough days

Had a few tough days at school.  Kids are doing OK, but I'm just pretty tired.  I'm having a hard time keeping my head rested while at school.  Disruptions to the schedule, changes of plans, etc...are just completely draining to me.  Its like the lights go out in my head.  11 months since the stroke....

Building a program is hard.  Daily battles about turning stuff in, why we have to learn how to read music, why we have to stand up straight, etc.... We'll get there.

But I am so excited about the growth of the program.  We truly have exponential changes in the groups.

We have:

  • Thirteen students signed up for CMEA auditions (one last year).
  • 36 students in choir (12 last year)
  • We are singing two more songs than last year in choir.
  • We are playing Level 1 music in Band.  Four of the eight students started their instruments on September 12.  Some of them are really excelling.
  • Music theory is way ahead of last years group.
One month until Winter Concert.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

Watching the genius of Bill T. Jones was so amazing.  How he focusses on the music and changes his vision up to the moment of discovery during the first performance was eye-opening.  Worth your time.

How many of your students know who Bill T. Jones is?  I have been of the opinion that if we had compulsory dance from ages 4-10 we could solve a lot of our problems.  Especially for boys.

Watch Bill T. Jones: A Good Man on PBS. See more from AMERICAN MASTERS.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Choir Assignment

I needed an assignment where I could split my group into sectionals. Twelve kids were involved in three self-directed sectionals and the remaining 24 students did this assignment in pairs (w/ and iPad). It gives me a chance to teach in small groups.

Today’s assignment should help you learn some items on your checklist.  You are also expected to demonstrate collaborative behavior.  

Work together to accomplish each task.  I must initial each for you to get points!  Plan a strategy so you get at least 100 points total.  Yes, you can get extra credit today.

I will be working in small groups today.  I will announce “I am now working on CFAs”.  If you want to join us, fine, if not keep working.

___________ Practice rhythm CFA.  Demonstrate for Mr. Schneider (15 pts).

___________ Complete iPad Nota Quiz on notes.  Get a respectable score (10pts)

___________ Complete and upload a ShowMe iPad presentation about one of the following subjects;(40 pts)

___________ Listen to choir music from our website.  Have music and pencil out. (15 pts)

___________ Play Bingo or Old MacDonald on the piano for Mr. Schneider (20 pts)

___________ Play “I’m Yours” on the iPad banjo and sing along. (30 pts)

___________ Answer the following questions about Mr. Schneider (15 pts)
    • Where did he go to high school?
    • What is his main instrument?
    • What does he coach at SHS?
    • What are his daughter’s names?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chops: The Movie

Worth the time.

We watched this today in band.  I have a bunch of beginners in the HS band (band of 8....).  They don't quite get what commitment and dedication really look like and this movie was helpful for some discussions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Military Music

The Marines Birthday reminded me of a 7th grade general music class about 15 years ago.

We were finishing a unit on music of the armed forces.  We sang the Marines Hymn, etc...  I was giving a test:

What are the branches of the United States Military?

Student answer: roots, leaves, trunk, branches, stem.

I thought OK, thats interesting.

Then I got to the next paper.  Which had the exact same answer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Choir Warm-ups

I had to record myself for an application.  I should do this more.  Feedback welcome.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Music NGram Viewer

.png  on Aviary.

Holy Crap!

Use the onscreen keyboard to punch in a melody and chord.  Click search and it will find scores that have used those exact notes!  With youtube video and score.  Holy Crap.

Ever gone "I know I've heard this melody before?".  Problem solved.

This NGram Viewer is quite possibly the most amazing thing ever and is blowing my mind.  Reminds me a bit of the Soundhound app.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


drinkify.png  on Aviary

Drinkify is a very interesting hack to come out of Boston today.  Very well designed site.

After typing in the box a name (Oliver Nelson?, Bruce Springsteen?) the site will give you a drink recommendation, show cover art AND play the music.

This is not suitable for display with students perhaps, but the idea of classification of music by the drinking habit of their listeners is fun (and pretty deep...).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Power is Back

SnowtoberWe have power in my house.  We have power at Seymour High School.

I am hoping the rest of the schools return on Monday.  Some schools are up to nine days off so far due to Irene and Snowtober.

Even though we had a small crew in class on Friday we have to keep moving.  Next rehearsal for band and choir is next Wednesday.  This means we haven't had a real rehearsal for TWO WEEKS!  That will mess with your teaching rhythm.