Reflection for Art of Teaching Choral Musicians
Looking back at I think my philosophy is the same. However, I have a deeper feeling and understanding for this philosophy. When Mr. Evans told us that our students need to feel loved and need feel that they have a safe space they go to I was taken back. I thought it was a strange idea. Growing up conservatively, my family and school life has not provided a place where I would always be able to feel safe. It was honestly a strange idea when I first heard it. I understand clearly now what that means. I want my students to feel loved and that they have a safe space to go to. When they walk into the classroom they need to leave their problems from home, school, or with one another, at the door. People need music now than ever before. The world is scary and if they can express innocent joy through music what’s to say they can’t? My students will always have a place in my classroom to set aside their worries and turn their attention to something that uplifts them.
The aspect that I have grown the most as a teacher is learning to understand where my students are coming from and how to love them. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by trying to push your ensembles to achieve higher level of abilities and not living in the “now”. I tend to get caught up in the if’s and what’s of progressing. I have learned that you are right where you need to be. That statement on its own is hard for me to accept. I am hard on myself and that tends to bleed into my teaching. I want to loosen my grip of being hard on my students. The way in which I have learned to fix this is by loving the students I have with all their positives and disadvantages. Having said that I still need to grow away from trying to get too much out of my students. Sometimes I forget that they won’t all be music majors and that they are in it for the fun. I recently have gotten better at knowing they are mostly there for the fun of it. I need to attend those students who are their to enjoy their time making music equal amount of focus compared to those who excel within music.
As a non voice major, what was lacking in this course was not being explained certain terms like the “breaking point” or terms that are overlooked by vocalist because they are so commonly used. I did end up looking into these terms and also asking questions when I did not fully understand them. I would like to learn how to teach a kid to use healthy vocal techniques and how air flow works and just how do you sing healthily? It is relatively easy for a vocalist to understand how to warm up or what techniques there are. Therefore, I wish there was a day where we could have dived into the specifics of that. I had tried to take the Vocal Lab class but it was cancelled and I wasn’t able to take that class. That would have helped when coming to this class but that is the only complaint that I have even though I know this class is not for teaching aspects such as this.
I came up with the idea that the students we are working with would collaborate with us to make a song that would be played at their school dance. So far the process is going smoothly. It is really cool to be able to instant message the students and get quick responses from them and know when they are online. I like this more than the project with Rogers students because we are able to talk to these students more directly. Now the one thing I don’t like is how limiting soundtrap is. If you want to use loops in the library soundtrap provides you have to have a certain subscription to get those. However, soundtrap is easy to use to do basic recording and piano roll notation. So far I think this project is going well.
I have been having difficulty juggling the current project and working with the students and making tutorials all at the same time. I know that Friday is build your chops day, however I feel that I don’t have enough time in class to work on my project where I need to recreate cover songs. So now that the project with Rogers students is over I have had difficulty finding time to finish assignments for class since there is such short amount of time to be in class in the first place.
I conducted “If Music Be the Food of Love” in my Art of Teaching Choir Musicians class. This was an interesting experience for me. I like to conduct, and I want to do it more often. I think that I did well because I looked over the piano part and the vocal lines. I decided the style at which I should conduct, such as being more legato than staccato. I learned that even though I did make eye contact with everyone, I was scared to do so. Why is that? When I am in an ensemble, I like it when the conductor makes eye contact with me; it shows I am either doing well and we are connecting or that I need to make a change. It is a completely different dynamic being a conductor rather than a performer (Although the conductor is definitely performing also I think it’s safe to say most of those who attend music concerts go to watch the musicians rather than the conductor).
A struggle that I continue to have is that I bend my wrist to much and I give a slight prep beat to my prep beat. This could lead to the ensemble not knowing where the beat is and/or coming in on a different beat than written because I prepped awkwardly. This is something that I need to work in front of a mirror with and learn to get out of the habit of doing.
Other than my wrist bending too much and giving some awkward prep beats that may or may not have been noticed, I think my conducting is relatively strong. I am excited to conduct all sorts of ensembles and experience different kinds of music.
During this project that collaborated with a School in Maricopa School District students in the digital hybrid class at ASU were confused as to how lessons were being scaffolding or how students in the class were being managed. The reason for this is because there were some individuals who did not receive any feedback from their group members that they looked over or they received files that didn’t reflect what ASU students had explained to their group or asked them to do. I began to question if the students in the Maricopa School District were doing what they were supposed to do in class.
When Roger visited it became clear. He explained how students would choose to be on their phones over doing assignments in class. I was confused because I had assumed that he had tried to take action to “punish” students by taking their phone away or calling a parent because of the student disrupting their own learning environment by using their phone in class. However, it became clear that he would rather not be seen as a mean teacher and would rather have his students choose between being a student who wants to learn and improve or be on their cell phone and be distracted the entire time. I was even more confused after hearing this. I understood the concept but kids who are 13-years-old may be old enough to make decisions but are not capable of seeing the outcome of those decisions.
I think this was a good experience to hear how there are schools who do not implement their policy collectively among colleagues. In this school it was a class to class basis. The culture is not consistent when pushing for students to expand their knowledge. I do not think that this is a bad thing to let kids make their own decisions but I do think they aren’t ready to make decisions when they do not have the mental capacity yet to understand how current decisions can impact their future. I also think that there should be no grades but when there are some classes that earn a grade and some that do not and instead rely on participation I think that is wrong to do. Certain classes are then not seen as important and it should either be all or nothing.
DAW Piano Roll Notation Build Your Chops Blog Post:
Ableton seems to be a more difficult program to use when using PRN. I have had difficulty being able to use Ableton because of my little knowledge when it comes to using software to record and make music without have a staff line. A much more simplified version that correlates to what Ableton is trying to accomplish is Soundtrap. In soundtrap, there are icons that are more easily noticable to what they point of them is. There are less things to choose from which I think makes it easier to use. Things are organized to be minimal and therefore it is less confusing when you are trying to find something like the metronome or where to import a file. Also, I do not like using Macs and at school we use Macs where preferences and tabs such as this are in the menu bar at the top of the screen, whereas PC’s the options are in the tab itself and are much easier to find.
The reason why I think that Soundtrack would be good to improve “Chops” when it comes to PRN or using any software similar to this at all is because it makes it easy for the user. It is a good place to start when using software like Ableton instead of jumping into a program that is just too advanced for beginners. Swtiching between Macs and PCs is a good way to improve chops as well because it gives you an opportunity to use both systems and learn how to navigate them. You never know what type of computers you will have as a teacher so it is good to be fluent in both.
I feel that I am gradually getting better at giving lessons. This lessons was the best so far. The positives were that I went over what you should look for in sight reading like key signature, time signature, and dynamics. I had them count out load the subdivision rather than what ever point in time they were in the measure. This allowed them to stay in time instead of loosing or stretching the time because they aren’t counting between the beats. I think most people don’t think about dynamics when sight reading, however, if a student is able to notice small writings in a piece of music such as dynamics I think that shows how much they look ahead when playing something. Another positive thing I did was explain the dynamics. I used gestures while they sang to express how loud or soft they need to be to better emphasize the dynamic changes.
A negative aspect of this was that I could have given them too much information for the dynamic changes. I am not sure what grade level I am working with so I wanted to cover all of them incase I am working with older students. This is negative for younger students because it could be an information overload for them. Another negative is that I didn’t run through the entire key before they sang. I always forget how many scales it seems singers go through to find their pitch and I need to be more considerate of that.
Overall, I feel that this lesson went well. I was able to smoothly transition to new ideas. I could have used less or more topics to the sight reading depending on what age I’d be teaching. I need to have them run through the scale at which the piece will be sung in. I am glad I am improving.