Monday, January 30, 2012

Music Theory textbook on iPad

I've upgraded to Lion, dowloaded iBooks Author and have begun working on a Music Theory textbook.  iBooks Author seems very easy to use and I am sure newer versions will be even slicker.

I hope to get a template done this school year and finish over the summer.  At least that's the plan.  I currently don't use a textbook in my music theory class, so in theory the book is already written.  Right?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Authentic Experience in the Music Class

Today we had our first rehearsal of iAlchemy the piece we commissioned from Doug O'Grady and will perform with the Waterbury Symphony.  There are nine parts for iPads.  Four iPad parts on five iPad/strings.

I started with a discussion of professionalism.  We are responsible for our parts and that's no joke.

I put the most experienced musician on the iPad soloist, and the three choir members on the other iPad parts.  That way they can rehearse during choir if needed.

We spent a good twenty minutes looking at the score.  This is a music theory class, almost all students who are taking their first music class.  We talked about keys, modality, chord progressions.  I asked the students to mark up the score and begin to draw arrows between parts that were doubled.

We then rehearsed the ending (m.67 to end).  We had reminders about note reading (thats an F) and then, since we are playing on iPad keyboards, which F?  It was nice to be able to say F4 and have the students pick up on that.

We split into two groups, ipad/strings and iPads and rehearsed.  By the end of the class we kind of almost played through the piece along with the recording.

There was A LOT of theory done in the class today.  Authentic experience for music theory class is not easy but I think this project will drive a lot of learning.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Music Theory Textbook for iPad

iAuthor, iTunes U, and the new iBooks is kind of what I've been waiting for.

I'm going to write a music theory textbook.  I understand that this isn't perfect, you can't create ePubs, you have to be in the Apple system, etc...

But I hope to create a book I can use in my class (and hopefully you can too).

My goal is to finish by the end of the school year.  What would you want to see in an iBook for theory?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spring Choir Repertoire

After much discussion with twitter colleagues I have solidified the Spring 2012 repertoire.  There is a lot here.

My choir:

  • 34 students, 8 boys.
  • Mostly 9th graders, mostly new singers.
  • This is my third year.  We went from 12 to 34 members this year.
My needs:
  • Songs to feature my boys.
  • I always split the time between solo, small grop, and large group.  
  • I need songs that develop voices.
  • I have an accompanist now, so I can stretch a bit.
  • We are recording an "album" in April.  So I have chosen some public domain.
So I decided to do a "best of" cycle.  I'm going to hit some historical highlights and some traditional choral repertoire.

Large Group:
  • Sing We and Chant It.  Renaissance favorite of mine.  This will definitely be a festival tune.  We will sing this SAB and SATB (small group)
  • Mozart's Dies Irae. Classical selection.  We will sing SAB, which I am usually against for classics.  This is a reach.
  • Shine On Me by Dillworth.  Gospel.  I really like this song.  Everyone can sing it.  We will use this to focus on diction discussions.
  • Beautiful Day by U2.  Closer, graduation song.  Rock/modern.  Vowels make this song harder than it looks.
  • Homeward Bound our flowy-choir-beautiful song.  Graduation potential.  We are singing SAB.
Small Group:
  • Guys and Dolls selections.  This is where I can focus on my guys.  Sit Down, Luck Be a Lady, the Fugue are cool guys songs.  I hope to kind of show choir these.
  • Motown acapella type (TBA)
  • Bist Du Bei Mir by JS Bach for our Baroque selection.
  • Lots of American songbook songs including Somethings Gotta Give, Always on My Mind, Nightingale in Berkley Square, etc...
We start Tuesday.  Can't wait.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Midterm Exam

We just took our midterm exam.  This is what was on the exam:

Band: I have mostly beginning students who started on their instrument in September.

  • Scales: Bb, C, F, G concert.
  • Sightreading (at level .5)
  • Piece: Sawmill Creek (from Standard of Excellence Book One) for most, the more advanced kids played harder pieces.
  • D major scale
  • Sightreading (Level 1)
  • Piece: Caro Mio Ben
  • Reading for understanding
  • Harmonic Analysis (I give SATB, they provide roman numerals)
  • Melodic Harmonization (I give roman numerals, they provide SATB)
  • Analysis of piece (chord 1 is a E minor in 2nd inversion, etc...)
Overall this was a very good exam.  Plenty of students showed me quality work.  Most, if not all, realized they can work harder.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

iPads in the Symphony Orchestra

iAlchemy has been delivered!

iAlchemy was commissioned by Seymour High School and the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra and is supported by the Valley Community Foundation, Timex, and Naugatuck Saving Bank.

Our composer is Doug O'Grady who is Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University.  The concert is May 12.

The idea of this project is:
1. Create opportunities for students at Seymour High School.  Provide them with mentors and an authentic experience.  We will have extensive visits from WSO and WCSU musicians.
2. Create the first true piece for orchestra that uses the iPad.  Explore the iPad as an instrument.
3. Create and solidify the partnership between WCSU, SHS, and WSO.
4. Show students and the orchestra that authentic, modern music is happening and its happening in Connecticut.

We have a lot of work to do.  Doug passed it to me.  I have promised we will do his piece justice.  Spreading the word would be helpful.  We think this is pretty cool in many ways.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dean Shareski is our audience.

We spent a good amount of time evaluating Dean's Guitar Project.  Our students evaluated Dean's playing and created short lessons to send back to him via youTube. This is part of our curriculum that students will be able to evaluate performances and be able to have intelligent conversations about music.

Click link to find out how Dean responded to the project.

Finding what to say next was a challenge for them.  As part of this project Dean Shareski prepared a short video for us to play at our winter concert and two of our students performed the Canadian rock anthem Heart of Gold which Dean had been working on.

I have decided to bridge that experience into a unit on recording.  Morgan, a 12th grader, and Austin, a 11th grader have begun recording in our new recording studio (a computer with protools and a good microphone).  We also will be creating a music video.

We have an audience and we intend to use it.  Creating a project that mixes the national music standards with the 21st century standards can be a challenge, but I think this may be a project that hits just about all of the curriculum standards.

The interesting thing is we had no idea that we would do this project.  Sometimes an opportunity arises and you go for it.

Here is the unmixed, rhythm guitar and vocal draft version so you can get an idea.  I hope to have mixed version by Friday and music video in two weeks.

HeartofGold draft by Brandt Schneider

Spring 2012 Plans

I wanted to tell you what is in store for the next six months of school.  There is a lot that I want to accomplish.  In no particular order:

1. iAlchemy. Theory students performing with the Waterbury Symphony.  This is a huge deal.  The piece, iAlchemy, is done and we will receive it soon.  We will perform as full members of the orchestra.  We will rehearse with orchestra, visit the composer at WCSU and do lots of other activities.  

2. Recording session.  We have contracted for a recording session this spring (probably end of April).   We will professionally record all the groups and many of our soloists.  Most of you have not been in a recording session and I think its important that we experience that.

3. Spring Trip.  We will be heading for our yearly adjudication trip again this year which will include a day at Lake Compounce.  I hope to keep costs to $20.  I also hope to get Superior ratings for both groups.  The trip is scheduled for May 18.

4. Recruitment drive.  I hope to double our band numbers and hit 50 in choir.  We can do it!  I also think many of you should double up with music theory, band, guitar, or hip-hop methods.  Getting a larger group helps everyone!  I would LOVE to have two choirs (beginning and advanced, or freshman and upperclass).  Growing a great music department starts with the band and choir.  Start talking to your friends.

5. Talent Show.  The choir will do a condensed version of Guys and Dolls at the Spring Talent show.  This will be a A LOT of work but I’m excited to make it happen.  The talent show will also be a fundraiser for our trip.  Everyone should block off May 4 for the show.  Who should play Nathan Detroit?

6. Videos, archives, song creations.  We have started making music videos in the theory class and I hope to expand this to choir shortly.  Student use of our recording studio needs to expand.  I would love to do a lipdub (google it...).

7. All-State and Regional Festivals.  Alex and Christian will attend the 2 day Southern regional festival next weekend and will work hard to audition for All-State in February.  We will do everything we can to support them.

8.  Mentor Visits. We have a scheduled visit from Dr. Isaacs and the WCSU choir in May, we will have about 8-10 visits from Waterbury Symphony musicians to prepare for iAlchemy, and I hope to have several visits from other musicians either live or via Skype.

9.  Honor Groups. We are thinking of creating a 5-12 grade district choir and 5-12 grade district band.  This is just an idea at this point.  We will have some after school activity to allow student more time to sing or play their instrument.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Apple TV

I got the Apple TV today.

Here are my questions:
1. Whats the best way to get the audio from the TV to the soundboard?
2. Is there an easy way to switch between iPads to display on the TV screen?
3. Should I completely switch to iTunes Match?
4. Does Apple TV take over some of the functions from the iPad.  For example, should I just play youTube from the AppleTV interface?

I definitely should have bought a bigger TV.  I'm hoping the next grant can handle that?