Lecture 3 Music 1Y (& this week’s happenings)

March 21, 2010

Well another wild week.

Learning management systems and student research

Inspiration from James at the start to get some stuff going in my school’s LMS, which is based on Scholaris. Kinda clunky and oldschool compared to the new blogging tools, but in the middle of the week I set up an online classroom for my year 10s who now have laptops. Had them live researching and in-class blogging on minimalist and other work of Michael Nyman, as follow up to some playing and listening we’d done.

This task showed up vast gulfs between research-savvy students who can browse large amounts of material quickly and get pithy results. Some students who just want to cut and paste large swathes without processing. Others who post links with no comment. Others who ‘can’t find anything’ while they are on rich web sites, as they can’t really skim read.

It seems to me if you have poor skills with books, you also have poor online research skills. But I worry that no-one much even uses books anymore. Unis have extended their loan periods ridiculously, presumably as no one’s borrowing books any more.

So we can end up in ‘the context of no context’. How do we get students some context? – to me that’s one of the big questions of the 21C. Infinite sea of knowledge, but there are no handles until you know some stuff. It really boils down to teaching everything as history, as Neil Postman taught, in a world that often seems to only value now, and only knows about now.

Anyway, must persevere and figure out ways to use the school’s LMS system on the fly, with my two classes who now have laptops.

I loved James’s emphasis on quick and easy solutions. Just dive in and do it, which is another way to address Nick’s concerns about the time-consuming nature of technology.

Enjoyed the Atherton singing item. I guess that was from the Mahogany Ship school choir thing he did some time ago. Only heard about it, but didn’t ever hear any of the music: turns out it’s in the Ward library. Must check out sometime.

All the tips to follow up tools and ideas were good too. Video recording how to’s on the desktop scares me a bit. But I liked the demo: just do it!

Self absorption or self-development on Twitter

Then Twitter: well I must say in a week I’ve gone from total sceptic to ‘hmm maybe there’s something in this’. My latest speculation is that maybe Twitter is a return to reflection.

What? People surfing the Internet, like on the surface and that, having thoughts, like going deep and stuff? Surely not! My net gen kids go: ‘Twitter? LOL’. But I have a twenty-something colleague who uses it all the time.

Hmm seems it’s taken off not just among the celeb twitterati (what am I doing now?), but among people who are learning (what’s going down new in my field now?). Has lifelong learning reached the Internet already?

Anyway I went from sending it up to making the odd tweet or two, and went searching for some twits (sorry) who had something to say on education, and even found some, and even figured out how to make those short url thingys. So there’s hope for us ‘underwhelmed’ yet! (Just need more time.)

Sibelius and long-term learning

Sibelius stuff I enjoyed, even though I’ve been using Sibelius for years.  I did like the shortcuts and insights from the development side. And I’m still on version 3. Guess I should upgrade for all the new built in fancy-pants stuff.

And I realised something about my learning style: I love seeing other people teach because you get their perspective on things, even if it’s about something you’re already familiar with. Learning is all about new perspectives. If you think you know it you lock yourself out from another view of the world. You know, bored-student syndrome.

As I get older, I get more interested in what anyone has to say about anything, and I don’t really get too put off by bad lecture style. Some of the best learning I’ve had is from terrible lecturers (present company not included here of course!). You just have to be willing to grapple with their view of things, if you can find it.

Music performance as community in action

Had some great outbreaks of learning at school this week too. I finished the week thinking that performance is about building community.

Had a concert Friday night with HSC students: student-organised ensembles and solos with all the music teachers invited by students to play in various pieces. We had ex-students invited in by current students in some ensembles too.

It’s amazing how well students play and perform when they have a concert, and autonomy to prepare. They get organised and ask people to form bands and accompany them etc.

Huge range of stuff played by 15 students: from Irving Berlin to Florence and the Machine; Scott Joplin to Bobby Shew; Beth Ditto to JS Bach to Beethoven; Red Hot Chili Peppers to I Killed the Prom Queen; and Steve Martin’s banjo to Paco Pena’s flamenco.

We’ve all but given up on doing the in-room-performance-in-front-of-two-examiners-with-no-audience for performance assessments, ‘cos they’re often fairly lame. A concert on the other hand is real world. And it doesn’t take much more to organise. Students really rise to the occasion. And friends and family get to hear them etc.

Earlier in the week we’d done a version of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida for a school assembly with a (Year 7 to 11) mixed ensemble  and chorus and skilled lead singer. Went really well. Reinforces to me the idea that we should always aim to wow audiences in a performance. And the preparation ends up building community. In this case the initial impetus for doing the piece came from students. Teachers could then be resources and help make it happen, over a groundswell of student enthusiasm.

So keep on finding ways to build community, people.

Must get some static pages happening. Maybe next time.

Andrew Tredinnick

7 Responses to “Lecture 3 Music 1Y (& this week’s happenings)”

  1. aftertrace Says:

    I’m going to give the Twitter thing another few goes with you all, Andrew. After my PLN (Personal Learning Network) told me to welcome you to your PLN I thunk to myself that perhaps I hadn’t even been enthusiastic enough. So there will be more this week.

    And yes, I think that not only just getting on with it is fun, but that golly it’s nice to be creative with our lesson prep, once you’re sorted with the tech tools, and I find preparing a lesson *nearly* as creative as composing!

    And now I’m going to finish the lecture plan for tomorrow and add a few more minutes to my bass concertino 😉

  2. Nick Lane Says:

    Hey Tred,

    I commend you on getting the kids involved in performing at school. I think it is the best thing music education can do for kids. One of the reasons I want to be a music teacher is I want to give as many kids as I can opportunities for performance. Some times it takes a couple of goes but you get them hooked.

    I’m finding Twitter so good for answering questions. It’s amazing! I feel lazy now.

    I went to the Ward library on Thursday and was amazed at the resources there! So much music stuff. The music tech stuff is a little dated but my goodness the resources. Some great jazz stuff
    Nice blog! How did you get the Twitter function at the side?

    Nick Lane

    • tred Says:

      Thanks for reading & comments Nick.
      Re twitter feed: Not sure how you do it in edublogs, but in wordpress there is a widget when you’re managing ‘appearance’ that allows you to insert a twitter feed…

  3. Dan Shaw Says:

    Man, you are prolific. Interesting insight on the “sea of knowledge”. Though there is a bombardment of info out there, lots of students have a tendency to autonomously narrow their scope of intake when they find something that they want to specialise in. That being said, it’s the role of the teacher (to an extent) to focus the learning experience for learners so as to achieve the greatest learning experience possible. When I was at prac, discovered that students still hold a great deal of trust in their teachers, and depended on them greatly for guidance.

  4. Dan Shaw Says:

    I like your insight on the “sea of knowledge”, but I think students who are geared toward autonomy will filter down this info as they go along and specialise in a narrower field. Also, I discovered that students still place a great deal of trust in their teachers to guide them through the learning experience, so I think teachers can still be very important in navigating their learners through the aforementioned sea.

  5. Dan Shaw Says:

    Apologies if you’re getting bombarded with my comments. I can’t see them for some reason when I post them, so I wasn’t sure if they’re being published. Oops…

    • tred Says:

      Dan thanks for the comments.
      It’s just on wordpress they don’t get published till moderated – wordpress sends me an email. I just happened to be checking email.

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