Assignment 15: Responding to Music Through Listening and Analysis

Jet Black Heart, by 5 Seconds of Summer:

Att-L Listen Points: Challenge secondary students to hear the following in three listenings:

-Indication of form landmarks (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, outro)

-Points where there are additions and subtractions of vocal harmonies

-Contrasting of two different patterns on the guitar part

Questions: -How does this song make you feel? (open)

-What in this song made you feel that way? (guided, judicial)

-What instruments are used in this songs? (closed, analytical)

-Is the piece in a major or minor key? (closed)

N-Gage Tasks: Listen to the song in order to engage in the following activities:

-Hum along the with the chorus melody

-Clap on two and four with the drum set snare

-Use available instruments, percussive or melodic, to accompany the music in the background

Questions: -Discuss the melodic contour of the piece (analytical, guided)

-What’s the role of the guitar in this piece? (analytical)

-Can you clap on 2 and 4 along with the drum set snare? (closed)

N-Act Tasks: Listen to the song continuously to perform the following activities

-Sing the pitches of the melody with either the lyrics or using the syllable “la”

-Sing the guitar, bass, and drum parts in small groups

-Use singing and available instruments to cover the song in a different style

Questions: -What can you do with singing or humming to add different emphasis? (creative)

-What would need to be considered with approaching the song in a different style? (creative)

Three Things I want to Learn:

  1. Successful strategies to receive support from students, faculty, administration, and parents
  2. How to design a flexible curriculum that adheres to expectations (national, state, and district/school standards)
  3. Learn about and understand different ways that a digital hybrid class can look

Assignment 12: More Principles of Practice

One thing I can connect from the reading is how our open-ended project leaves room to be executed within a mixed range of musical literacies. Since reading/writing notation and instrumental proficiency aren’t inherently required, it opens the project up for those who aren’t highly musically literate and could be executed without being a college music student. This project definitely addresses the balance of music, technology, and media. While music and technology are fairly explicitly addressed, we have to utilize a variety of media in which to facilitate the progression of our project (such as using phone, recording devices, etc.). Though not necessarily in this project so far, but mentioned reading: typically Dr. Tobias provides the class with guiding questions in order to scaffold our learning and/or guide us to reach explicit learning goals. Also, linking the reading to my internship with Mr. Maxwell, a new thing he is having his classes do is digitally record 30 seconds each time they work on a project as a video diary. His goal is not only for students to explain the progress and their processes, but also give them something tangible to reflect on, as well as provide a sort of informal formative assessment. His vision too is that after multiple video diary entries and over multiple years, students will be able to reflect upon their past video diary entries and reflect on their growth.

The high school students are divided up into 4 groups of 3-5, and each one has an iPad. They are sitting on the floor, and trying to create music that replicates one of the four elements of their choice: water, earth, fire, and air. While parameters are limited, they have to use at least one acoustic instrument and at least one digital instrument, and the music must last at least a minute. Mr. Manluccia walks over to a group creating a song about water, and notices that the music playing on their iPad sounds very monotone and monodynamic. Since he wants his students to explore dynamics as part of the project, he walks away from the group, waits a little so as to not single them out, and makes a class announcement, “I’m really enjoying what I’m hearing so far from everyone! Don’t forget to consider the different extremities of your element, and how you can express that musically. For example, fire can be a dimly lit candle or a raging forest fire. Back to work!” In making that announcement to the class, Mr. Manluccia hopes that students, especially those in the water group, will explore how they can musically explore the different extremities of water’s state by implementing dynamic contrast. The students continue to work on their projects the whole class period, and Mr. Manluccia is excited to see that he is hearing more discussion from students as to how they can express those elemental extremities. A couple of groups already began implementing dynamics to provide that expressive contrast. With 5 minutes left of class, Mr. Manluccia reminds the class to record their 15 second video clip on their iPads explaining what they accomplished today. He plans on having the students watch their video diary and reflect upon it at the conclusion of their project. He also plans on using them as a form of formative assessment.

Assignment 11: Principles of Practice for Project-Based Learning

One of the key points addressed in the forthcoming chapter reading was is determining the practicality of executing resources. The chapter mentions if the teacher thinks students are ready, if the teacher feels comfortable with it, and will the school/administration permit it, if it will relate to or enforce concepts being learned in class; other things to consider not mentioned is if necessary resources (instruments, technology, etc.) are available to carry out the project and if there’s sufficient classroom/venue space available. Thankfully within our Art of Teaching Contemporary Musicians class, all of the resources, preparedness levels, faculty support, and enforcement of concepts in the degree program are present. Having those factors present allows for us to explore project-based learning with ease, allowing for room to grow. I believe taking this class will prepare me to feel confident in my future by giving me the experiences and skills necessary to be confident in planning and executing projects within traditional and potential non-traditional music classes.

Connecting the projects to standards and sociocultural relevance is important when in the planning phase. While the chapter states students may come across certain standards organically, it is important to also consider how you can reshape existing standards/curricula, especially the more open-ended ones, to fit with how you want to go about the project. As stated by Dr. Tobias, you sometimes have to alter or abstract your objectives to conform to a set of standards/curricula, and that’s acceptable. I feel like between this class and my Secondary English Immersion class, I am understanding more and more how to bring the diversity of sociocultural elements into the classroom to foster student learning.

Using projects as means of teacher evaluation and student growth is also another point the chapter discusses. As a teacher wanting to pursue the planning and execution of such projects, you can use assessment as a point of advocacy to garner support. Linking the students’ growths throughout the process of a project, and using some sort of rubric or journal/log can be used as data, which can be presented to ensure certain objectives are being met and that learning is taking place. It’s possible to translate qualitative data into quantitative data, which is more preferable to inserting “completion tasks” that are solely present as assessment measurements. I believe as a future teacher, I will ensure that my projects benefit everyone. Knowing that linking projects to assessment is a key issue, I will be more cognizant of how to navigate the planning of a project so that it caters to assessment standards expected of me as a teacher in a school.

Assignment 10: Musical Problems and Planning

With our class project, a bulk of it consisted of musical problems that we had to solve through creating and listening, which are key concepts from Wiggins Chapter 6. In our class project, like in Wiggins, the project gave us opportunities to explore various media for composing such as instruments, notation media, and recording software. We explored guitars, a new experience for us all, singing, piano, autoharps, and tambourine. Within the songwriting aspect, much like stated in the chapter in regards to first-time songwriters, we found it more comfortable to start with writing lyrics before adding a melody. After we wrote lyrics, then we decided on a chord progression, and fit a melodic line into that using the lyrics. Although not explicit, our project allowed us to explore multiple dimensions of music, which is something the chapter discusses. We had to make decisions in regards to dynamics, timbre, texture, form, articulation, and such; while we weren’t told to, we naturally explored those facets. In terms of dynamics, we decided to stick to the side of mezzo forte for the intro, verse, and bridge, and save forte for the chorus. We had to decide what instruments we wanted to use to create a different timbres. We encountered a decision to not use guitar for block chords, as that was a function of the autoharp, so we stuck to picking. As far as texture, the intro was thinner, and the verse had all instruments incorporated. However, for the bridge, we had all instruments, but made all of the parts have “less busy” rhythms to create a suspense and lead into the chorus. Something different I noticed is that different about our class is that for us, our knowledge of music vastly helps our ability to create and perform. Much of the text refers to first-time musicians or in a general music class where there is a limited experience with music beyond listening. While many of us were first-time songwriters and/or lyricists, we still managed as we are college students who have a capacity for learning and thinking.

If we were to move forward into the project, finding ways to make it more expressive might be limited with our experience in vocal performance and limited knowledge on certain instruments such as guitar. Also, recording the full song using recording technology might take quite a few class periods at the rate my group was going. I really enjoyed how little teacher influence there was in the project. I believe the older the student, the less the teacher needs to be involved. Clearly the teacher needs to be present at some level, and provide some sort of guidelines. However, having students have more control will engage them in the content more, which will help them learn more successfully. In our project, having Dr. Tobias pop in halfway through the project and telling us we needed to add guitar somehow was a great way to get us learning something he wanted us to learn without disrupting the flow of our project. Having the teacher observe a group’s progress and make the call to interject with a new project requirement like that can be beneficial when having a more open-ended approach to a project and ensuring that all students are learning what you want them to. Students will often have more fun while learning when the teacher isn’t “breathing down their necks,” and creates a fun community for learning and socializing.

Assignment 9 : Musical Problem Solving

At first, I was confused by what the notion of a “musical problem” entailed. After reading on, it encompassed a much broader context than what I had initially thought. In the class, Dr. Tobias loads us with musical problems to solve, whether in the form of discussion, a project, or assignment. For example, in the most recent project, he assigned us to compose a song in the style of a genre we were unfamiliar with. My group chose indie pop, which was an undertaking in and of itself, but later he added another element for us: add guitar to our piece. None of us being guitarists by any means, we had to utilize our resources to achieve a semblance of all of us receiving playing the guitar. We divided and conquered, and each chose a chord to “be a master” of, and then taught each other. In the actual performance, we split the chords up so we each played one of the three chords involved. The entire process of us learning guitar and finding a way to incorporate into our project was one example of a musical problem. In my internship with Mr. Maxwell’s class, a problem he had students solve was to make an audio track saying “____ is my name” by recording the audio “my name is ___” via the ProTools software. In solving that problem, they figured out how to cut tracks in ProTools.

One musical problem I would give to my future music students is tell them to listen to one of their favorite songs with lyrics, and have them analyze how what musical dimensions allow the performer to be expressive through music. What I’d be looking for them to assess is vocal timbre, dynamics, articulation, texture, and the content of the lyrics. I’d then have them form groups of 2-3, have each of them share their song with their group mates, and discuss the dimensions of music that they observed that allowed the performer to be expressive. Those would address the anchor standards of responding and connecting. Another musical problem I’d pose, possibly to a future student of mine who had a solo in a band piece, is “How can you make your solo more expressive?” By posing the question to him or her, I’d expect them to spit out answers like exaggerated dynamics, more emphatic articulations, centered tone, etc. After the student would list the obvious answers, I’d guide him or her to also consider the style and context of this piece, whether related to cultural event, historical event, or a personal event of the composer. Often times the style of a certain time or a certain culture can give students a great idea of how to embody those concepts through passive listening. This musical problem would address the anchor standards of performing and connecting.

After looking over past reflections, a few things have stood out to me. Whenever I would do an assignment “last minute,” as evidenced by the time stamp, the quality of my writing would come off as “less scholarly,” and the length and depth of my response would be less than I have the potential for. I do believe I am demonstrating understanding, however, I also could be do a better job of conveying that through my responses. I believe a few of my responses aren’t up to par with the standards that I should be holding myself to as a senior, and seek to remedy that by not waiting last minute to submit assignments. Rushing through and procrastinating is setting myself up for not fully immersing myself in the content. I do believe my responses that weren’t last minute are on par with my capabilities and strongly reflect understanding the course content, just so I’m not dwelling on the negative.

Assignment 8: Learning music through sociocultural constructive process

I think a constructivist approach to teaching, especially in a musical setting, can be an effective method for students to retain information. By having all of the information being drawn from students, having students assist each other, and forcing the students to engage and problem-solve to arrive at answers are all ways students can achieve a full understanding of concepts being taught. In my middle school internship, my middle school band mentor teacher had section leaders for each section. It was always rewarding to see those students be the first to hop in to assist their peers in understanding and executing musical concepts. Often times, the section leaders would “beat” my teacher to addressing the issue. The student that the section leader helped would usually show notable improvement. One specific instance was when a student was struggling with staccato articulation, and one of the section leaders took the student into the side practice room to work on it together. I believe constructivism helps foster student initiative, leadership, and social/communication skills, among other skills.

The piece I chose, not listed on Spotify, is blue cathedral by Jennifer Higdon (link below). The key musical facets of this beautiful tone poem are timbre, texture, and dynamics. I believe it would be cool to split the class into thirds or sixths, and have one or two groups be responsible for interacting with each of the three facets listed above. With each student group focusing on one particular aspect, they can truly comprehend the facet in which they are listening for. Asking them to come up with a list of descriptors, associated musical terms, and such will help them engage with the material better. Throughout all discussion taking place, I’d be circulating the classroom, observing, popping into certain groups to ask probing or guiding questions, and facilitating profress.After listening to the piece once, I’d allow the students to have discussion with their group while I play the piece a second time, which would allow them to listen again for the focus of their listening. After continuing with their discussion, if applicable, I’d have them combine their group with the other group that focused on their same facet, and would execute another group discussion. Following that group discussion, I would ask students to prepare a presentation on their facet to present to the class, since they would now be experts, more or less, on their facet. In each group sharing their observations and analyses of their facets, it would help better impart knowledge and comprehension of that facet to the rest of the class.

Link to blue cathedral:

Assignment 7 – Getting ready to learn through engaging in a project

I really enjoyed how Wiggins Chapter 3 explains elements and qualities of music as dimensions, as they are different levels of perception for the whole of music. The concept that music is multi-dimensional and not elemental implies that music isn’t composed of various things such as dynamics, timbre, etc., but rather that that multiple experiences culminate into a singular one.

Much of what was expressed in the article related to the last project we did, which was creating a song/performance that was about nature. While the focus of the lesson was to explore musical space and sound as well as relate our song to our narrowed nature topic, we also, as a by-product, learned and explored with musical concepts such as dynamics, timbre, rhythm, form, etc. So in exploring the sense of ensemble, space, and time would be considered exploration of metadimensions, we were learning about the dimensions. As a teacher, doing a project that way, and then afterwards discussing the concepts learned I think would be beneficial to a student’s understanding. Since they already experienced it, they’d better be able to recall and reproduce it.

The ability to recall and reproduce I think ties in with list of 7 steps of a process to make abstract dimensions and metadimensions more accessible to learners. Much of what was listed in these steps was reminiscent of Feels Like, Sounds Like, Looks Like learning sequence that I learned about in Art of Teaching Beginning/Advanced Instrumentalists. The way the learning sequence first works is having students feeling and experiencing a pattern, then they perform the pattern, then students learn how what was experienced relates to a way of notation. I feel this process is a great way to help students conceptualize the dimensions of music (more so than metadimensions, which could prove to be more challenging to articulate in a FL, SL, LL sequence).

This chapter really made me re-think my perceptions on what music is, how we experience it, how we label it, and made me question what I am starting to know as my own personal pedagogical techniques and knowledge. I will continue to ensure that these points keep resurfacing as I set forth in the upcoming project of creating a song with inspiration to John Lennon. Going into this project with an altered mindset will allow me to think how to apply the execution and facilitation of such a project.