Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Theory of Numbers

Is there a number of students in the ensemble that is needed to create "critical mass" for note learning?  We jumped in choir from 12 to 34 students this year and I am finding we are learning notes much faster.  Having the reinforcement has to help.

On the flip side does it become harder to really rehearse since you can't focus individually as much on tone production, diction, phrasing as you can in a small group?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sing We and Chant It

I've been trying to archive songs as we rehearse.  We have been working on Sing We And Chant It for about 6 rehearsals.

We are so far ahead of last year.  We can sing through most of our repertoire and have been spending a lot of time on solos and small groups work.

Having a larger group has definitely helped us learn the notes.  But as you can hear we have a lot still to work on.  The group is mostly 9th graders.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Garageband lessons in band

I have been spending a few weeks working on ear training in band class.  I outline this process in the Leading Notes article that was published last week.

So we have spent a lots of time working on four basic scales (C, G, F, Bb) in a number of patterns.  We have also started playing songs through the keys, including Over the Rainbow and Amazing Grace.

Today I asked the students to take an iPad and create an 8 measure "scale song" using garageband. I showed them briefly how to change the key of the song and how to drag loops on to the screen.  Then I told them to compose a song and include their scale improvisations on top of the loops.

Each student produced some cool versions.  In almost every case as I assessed them and gave some suggestions they came back with a substantially better version.  We played each version for the class (and they played for each other).  Some students started laying multiple tracks down of their own playing (scales in two directions, ostinato and melody, etc..).

The iPad is so easy to to do this with.  Garageband in a lab just wouldn't work for this type of assignment.   This assignment involved analysis, evaluation, improvisation, and composition.  It also required collaboration.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Band Repertoire

I pretty much have repertoire set for choir:

Dies Irae (Mozart)
Homeward Bound
Shine on Me
Beautiful Day (U2)
Sing We and Chant It

Plus solos and Broadway tunes.

Band, not so much.  We have been working hard on our ears and scales  but I really am not sure what to do.  We might go in the jazz or dixieland route or else I need to do A LOT of writing.  This group is 8 kids (2 of which are absent a lot), four of the kids are beginners.

Big puzzle.

Seymour iPads Team Up With Waterbury Symphony Orchestra | Valley Independent Sentinel

Seymour iPads Team Up With Waterbury Symphony Orchestra | Valley Independent Sentinel

Check out this cool article about our program.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Using Garageband in Music Theory

Song: Amazing Grace

Objective: Orchestrate one verse Amazing Grace using iPad Garageband

Parameters: in G major, 3/4 time.  Must have bass line, melody, and harmony parts.  Students will be limited to creating five tracks.  I will allow them to use loops.

Prior knowledge: Students had assignment at last class to play Amazing Grace on piano.  They should have it in their ears at this point.  They understand the harmonic movement.

End Game: Each orchestration will be played for class.

Teacher instructions: Almost none.  The teaching will be done AFTER the assignment is done.  Lots of "why did you choose that?"  I am working hard to establish that they have responsibility for what they write, even if its Garageband.

Assessment: At this point I just want a working version.  Students will assess on their own which version is best.  Hopefully they itch to create "take 2".

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

iPads in Class video

This video was made by Mike Oberdick who is our technology specialist.

All-State Auditions

I was lucky enough to be a judge at Connecticut All-State auditions this past Saturday.  After about 15 years of judging trombones I judged Tenors this weekend as they were way short of vocal judges.  I was lucky to be paired with a very talented judge.

A few observations:
1. We were shocked by how many no-shows there were.  These were slots that declared and paid.  We had about 30-40% no shows.  Many of the kids who stayed home would have been selected.  They made the wrong choice.
2. At this level everyone is "pretty good".
3. Sight reading was almost always the difference between being selected or not.  I think having 20% of the score for sight reading is too much.

I feel it becomes harder and harder to make All-State without private lessons.  In the most diverse state in the nation I believe All-States seems to highlight a musical achievement gap.  I am curious to see what type of proposals develop.