Reflections on teaching 4th grade music at Oakland Heights

1.  What do you think was the favorite part of your lesson for the class?

My favorite part of the lesson was seeing the kids get so excited about what they were doing! (They really were an excellent class) Seeing them get excited about singing their songs was wonderful. After their song, I enjoyed the teachable moment of distinguishing between the beat and a particular accent.

2.  What is one thing you would do differently if you taught the lesson again?

I would like to have been more clear on what qualifies as a beat, and what qualifies as an accent before they got the wrong idea in their heads. It was unfortunate that we did not anticipate that issue. Given the chance to do it again, that distinction would be made shortly after the opening line of the lesson.

3. Order of Events:

  • Class filed in and sat down.
  • Polled the class about what an “accent” was. Made distinction between musical accent and lingual accent.
  • Wrote accent and quarter note on the board. Sang ABCs with “odd” letters emphasized
  • Instructed students to accent “unusual” letters while singing the alphabet.- Probably their second-favorite part.
  • Sticks for beating were handed out. Oh the joy! (This was really fun)
  • Played “Russian Dance” on YouTube. -Students very excited. – Most were able to properly distinguish between beat and accent.
  • Played a song familiar to them. (When Christmas Comes To Town) Unfortunately, the song perpetually accents 1 and 3. Students began to identify accents as the beat. WHOOPS!
  • We returned to ABCs with “odd” letters receiving the accent. This greatly corrected the error.
  • Russian Dance was revisited, and sticks were beaten! (They really enjoyed this part!)
  • Rhythm sticks were brought to the front and deposited into a box in front of us.
  • When time was up, thanks and compliments were exchanged as the students lines up and exited the room.

Link to The Russian Dance

P.S. This was a wonderful class!

Precis on Campbell- Dalcroze

P.S. Campbell’s “Eurythmics, Aural Training, and Creative Thinking”(1990). The Eclectic Curriculum in Music                            Education, 43-51

P. S. Campbell’s “Eurythmics, Aural Training, and Creative Thinking”(1990), seeks to exposit Dalcroze’s methods for teaching music.

Campbell does a fine job of expositing this “pillar” of music education that is Dalcroze. As an expository piece, it fits the bill quite nicely. The only recommendation I have for the author is to simplify the esoteric language. “While Jaques-Dalcroze himself preferred the fixed do system[…]” Perhaps a bit of detail could be gone into for those who haven’t attended college in the past 10 years. This, however, is nitpicking. I am aware this was written for fellow Music Educators. I would like to know more about why Dalcroze held to the tenets he did, but that is for another article. Beyond superficiality, there are no complaints about this entry. The article is presented in a clean, scholarly manor. (Which is a breath of fresh air compared to most music education papers.

Having read this entry, I find myself with the desire to find out more about Dalcroze and his theories. I will without doubt do research on this great pillar of music education.

MEJ Articles, September 2014

Waters-Global Musics Willaims-iPad Instrument

Williams:

Willaims, David A. (2014). Another perspective: the iPad is a real musical instrument. Music Educators Journal, 101, 93-98.

Synopsis: David Williams’s “Another Perspective: The iPad IS a REAL Musical Instrument” (2014) sets forth to argue that the iPad is a real musical instrument to be treated equally with those of antiquity.

Reaction: Given the broad definition of music, the author successfully argues that the iPad is a real musical instrument within the first paragraph. The rest of the piece is devoted to something else entirely: attempting to argue that the iPad is a good musical instrument. Unfortunately, the author’s deviation from the title of the article gives way to fallacies and straw men. Improvements that could be made include:

  • Removal of “non sequitur” arguments such as “Haze machines ensure that lights are particularly effective” (97)
  • Focus on the title of the article. In reality, this article could have consisted of two or three sentences including the Merriam-Webster definition of music.
  • Address the main arguments of your detractors. The article seemed like an undergraduate throwing a fit. Arguments refuted were those that would never advance.

Follow-up: After reading this article, I now possess the knowledge that concerts are given with iPads only. This was unknown to me before. I believe that music educators advancing such subjects in musical journals should have philosophical training before attempting to look academic. I will do my best to ensure that my academic papers stand up to rigor and, at the very least, undergraduate scrutiny. Some points were advanced to justify the soundness of the iPad as a regular musical instrument: “An alternative music education model might provide students control over musical styles, creative decision making, and musical choice.”(94) He makes an assault on notation-reading: “Traditional school ensembles, of course, tend to be tied to notation, which is related closely to the first two issues- ensemble size and lack of individual autonomy”.(97)

Waters:

Waters, Sarah S. (2014). Sharing global musics: preserving the past, preparing for the future- a look at music education in China. Music Educators Journal, 101, 25-27

Synopsis: Sarah Williams’ “Sharing Global Musics: Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future- a Look at Music Education in China” is an exposition on the author’s observances of musical instruction in China, and asserts that the rest of the world should follow that example.

Reaction: The paper suffers from the usual ailment of journals such as the “why”. Clearly presented arguments work well when making an assertion. However, it appears the primary purpose of this article was not assertion, but to make a report of truths from which the reader can for an opinion. The article overall was enjoyable. Points of enjoyment were:

  • The content provided: The information was very useful and well presented.
  • The exposition of the benefit to the students culturally and academically.
  • Instruction on how a foreign government runs its musical education system.
  • Well-written article

Recommendations for improvement:

  • Have some syllogistic order in which arguments for this style of music education could be beneficial.
  • Go further! I would love to see a more thorough exposition on this topic.

Follow-up: The hybridization of musical education in China was unknown to me, and now I am intrigued. On the surface level, this dual-system of classical/traditional seems to be quite ideal. I will engage in more research on this topic.

Some quotations for further research on this topic: “They welcome new compositions, instruments, and styles into their music vocabulary. My hope is that music educators everywhere will find inspiration in this model to try new methods, explore different musical cultures, and come away enlightened by an educational system that could serve as a role model.”(27) And “In one beautiful moment, after I had spent an hour or so teaching Latin percussion patterns to a group of about fifteen students, they brought in a Chinese lute player and combined these two art forms!”(26)