Here's the calendar for the year. We'll have a separate calendar for Memphis 2013 events and fundraisers.
I've posted a slideshow of some excellent pictures Eldon McGraw took of the Spaghetti Dinner! Thanks to all who helped out! This is becoming a fun tradition.
Pickup will be at the High School outside the Orchestra room doors (room 12). We will be there after school until 6:30. See you then!
I have made flashcards on Quizlet for you to practice your music vocabulary. Here's the link:
The password is music.Enjoy! Study hard!
To get ready for our vocabulary post-test, you can study for the test on Quizlet. This is a website that you can use to make flashcards and quiz yourself! Here's the link to our set of flashcards:
The password is music.
Below is an application for the Alumni Association Scholarship. The deadline is November 30. Scholarship amounts range from $70 to $150. This can be applied towards your music lessons. I will have extra copies available in the orchestra room!
I am posting a letter that will go home with students tomorrow. Please take some time to go over the information with your students. We will be performing at Charlotte Middle School on November 19th. Your personal letter will have your performance time. Please remember that times are assigned by the event coordinators, and are extremely difficult to adjust. Also attached to this blog is a map to Charlotte Middle school. I'm excited about our upcoming festival!
I have been asking myself WHY NOT every day this week. I have another thought for you. As we look at our "traditional" ensembles in school music, are we tackling the bigger issue of whether or not this truly serves the goal of creating life-long music makers in those ensembles, or are we perpetuating the cycle of dead-end learning? Let's face it, the number of symphony orchestras in this country is dwindling at best. To teach to that end seems like dead-end learning.
I refuse to buy into the argument that we are creating an audience of future symphony patrons. If we stopped and really thought about that, we must admit that is a somewhat self-serving and somewhat economic goal. Do I want people to enjoy Beethoven symphonies? Yes. Do I want that to be the limit of their experience? No.
I want students to be able to PLAY music. To EXPERIENCE it fully. I would venture to guess that none of my students enter my class so that some day they can play in a symphony orchestra. I wonder why students join orchestra in the first place?
Let's chew on that idea this week. I'm going to ask all of my students why they joined, starting with my Facebook peeps. More on this later.
Along those lines, Yo-Yo Ma and friends have recently recorded a new album. Is it a concerto? Is it a Brahms quartet? Is it a symphony? Look at this, folks. This idea needs to be a part of the WHY NOT in the school music equation!
I have given our high school students their first creative assignment. With very little direction from me, I asked them to simply prepare and perform a cover song for the class. I have learned to not give too many instructions, because in our world of standardized testing, students often try to "meet the expectation" rather than showing me what they can do on their own. I would much rather learn from my students than have them regurgitate a list of expectations. It's messy, folks, but oh so good for the synapses!
I want to pose this question in that context. Students have asked me, "Do I have to have the notes to the song?" and some even have asked, "Can I please use the notes?". Of course, the answer is "whatever will work for you works for me."
This begs the question, why do we spend so much time learning to read music if we can learn music without reading music?
There are many musicians in the world who learn by exploration. They learn how to play by listening, by mimicking, by watching...maybe they are sound inventors of a sort, experiencing music aurally and kinesthetically.
Written notation helps us to be on the same page, so to speak. However, it is at best arbitrary. Here's an example:
This is a piece we are working on in class. Please listen to it, and then tell me what is the time signature? Are the cellos and basses plucking quarter notes or eighth notes or perhaps even half notes? What is the key signature of this piece?
My point is, there are times we place so much emphasis on reading that we neglect what really matters when we play music. My list is not exhaustive, but includes: feeling a pulse, audiating a tonality, hearing and expressing a certain style or affect, playing with a developed sense of sound and tone, communicating with the people you play with and for...
This is not a directive to stop learning how to read music, however I am asking us to put it in perspective. Note reading gives us the tools with which we can organize ourselves as musicians. It simply informs and orders the music that is already happening off the page.
What do you think?
I get a good sense of what's on your mind when you talk to me before and after class. Some of you tell me about your family, some of you talk to me about your other orchestra experiences, and some of you have found pieces you want me to program for our orchestra. Here's one that I heard about every day last week by one of our cello students at the high school! (And you thought I forgot!)
Here's the deal. Give me one reason we should play this piece in the comments below. It is ROCK, so your reason cannot be "it's a cool tune" "Zeppelin is awesome" or "it's fun"!!! Find me a MUSICAL or PEDAGOGICAL reason to add this piece to our repertoire, and you're on.
To help you out, I have included the score and the recording of the orchestral arrangement. Below is also a YouTube video of the original song.