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Showing posts from July, 2012

Stone Soup Update

A veteran, Kindergarten teacher from my former school, Linda Edmunds does a unit in September on the folk story, "Stone Soup." She concludes the unit with a day of communal soup making. I worked with her to formulate a mini-musical.

It didn't work. Here's why.
I had not taught them yet how to use all the families of the Orff instruments: skins (membranes), woods, metals, and bars. They were new to Kindergarten and new to instruments in music class. According to Carl Orff and the tenants of Responsive Classroom, students need to be mindfully introduced to each new material in the classroom. If they aren't, they will run amok and be unsuccessful.

I am reminded of my own use of Orff instruments prior to Orff level training. My pedagogy was severely lacking. I didn't know how to teach the children bordun, mallet technique, or basic instrument care. I thought as an adult, not as a child. I didn't get the message across, and therefore, my forays into instruments…

Building Piano Chops

(Play video at the bottom of the post as a sound track for reading s'il vous plait) This summer, I set a personal goal to become a better piano player.  Not to accompany children.  Not to play for my classes.  I want to better my piano playing just to be better.  I wanted to enjoy sitting in front of the instrument and practicing.

I am pleased to announce that I am achieving my goals.  I'm making outstanding progress with far less practice than expected.  Within two weeks, I was playing with much greater ease and looking forward to practice sessions.  I have gone from 30 minutes of practice per day to over two hours.  I'm sight reading pieces that I could not have worked up before.  I'm playing Chopin and Czerny and Beethoven! 

If you struggle with the fact that your piano skills are poor, take heart.  I'll explain how I am approaching the subject.  I use the present tense because these skills will need years to really develop.  I'm making a solid foundation a…

The 40 Best Music Ed sites on the web

I recently received an email from  one of the authors of the blog for Online Universitites.  The lady was very gracious and asked that I consider her site for promotion.  I whole-heartedly endorse her site.  Did you know that you can take FREE COLLEGE CLASSES through almost every major University for free!  It's true, and it blows my mind.  MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and other top-notch colleges have materials available so that you can learn online.

PDP's: In my state of Massachusetts, you can get professional development points for blogging, reading journals, reading blogs, and online learning.  Simply log the hours you spend doing the activity.  It is best if you have some kind of an end product like a certificate of completion or a final project, in case your pdp's get audited that year.  I don't think that every happens because departments of ed are so understaffed.  Be honest and learn much and you will never regret the learning you do online.

High School Students or …

The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Night shootings

****I saw it yesterday!  We got Showcase Cinema club passes to see this movie two days early FOR FREE!  I feel like a rock star!  Any spoilers are published in comments.  And there are LOTS of spoilers.  I loved this movie!  It was light, loud, and there were NO CELL PHONES.  I'm tellin' you, you've gotta see movies this way.  The side aisles were populated with cinema managers with night-vision binoculars looking at the audience.  If anybody so much as checked the time with their cell phones they would be kicked out and charged with attempted piracy.  It was the movie with the level of light pollution of the 90s.  NONE.  I loved it.

The movie is fun, but not for young children.  Some genius brought a 4-year-old.  It takes all kinds.  My little one was terrified of the storm cells that have been dumping rain and lightening on Eastern Massachusetts.  I can't imagine what guns, tanks, the bat bike, and other loud weapons would do to her dreams.

To become a Showcase Cine…

Unpitched Percussion

Someone recently found my blog by searching for a definition of "unpitched percussion."  This post is for you!  Welcome to my blog.

Unpitched percussion is a family of instruments that you hit that do not have assigned pitches in the Western tempered scale.  That is not to say that the instrument cannot have ascending and descending pitches.  Indeed, most percussion instruments have sounds that change pitches.  Here are some notable examples.

Frog Guiro

Bongos and congas

Wind Chimes

Wood blocks or temple blocks


Other unpitched percussion instruments are textural.  They add flavor to the stew of the orchestra.  Here are some examples.
Snare drum

Cymbals, triangle, tom toms, and other unpitched percussion are shown in this San Francisco Symphony segment.  Pitched percussion is shown too (timpani).

Virtually any object can be made into an unpitched percussion instrument.  The show, "Stomp" is all about this phenomenon.

Pitched percussion is any instrument t…