My Blogging Experience

April 14, 2010

Final Collaborative Project Reflection

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , — debyj @ 5:17 pm

This semester I spent a great deal of time on the Seymour Music Department Ning. I worked with students grades 9-12 with varying music abilities but most were beginners. There are three parts to the program: Band, Choir, and Choral. Choral is a more intimate form of Choir. There are only four girls in Choral and they do both solo singing and group singing.  There are a total of 34 students in the Seymour Music Department. Some students are in multiple parts of the program.

With the help of their teacher, Brandt Schneider, I created a large project for them to complete over a period of about two months. This is what the assignments looked like:

Part 1: Video Blog Assignment

This assignment is for ALL Seymour Music Department students!

Step 1: choose a new song (no more than 1 minute long) and start learning it.
– Band students choose a solo song.
– Choral/Choir students choose a song where you will sing and play on the piano. (it can be very simple)

Step 2: create a video that includes the following:
-a brief description of the song (what is it about, who is the
composer, when was it composed, translation of the words if written in
a language other than English, what is/was the composer like?)
-a performance of your new song (it is okay to make mistakes!)
– name at least 2 strengths you have in playing this piece
– name at least 2 things you would like to improve on in playing this piece
-3 things that you are going to do to improve this piece

Your video must be a minimum of 1 minutes and a maximum of 3 minutes long.

You will be blogging about those three things that you are going to do
to improve this piece and then you will be creating another video to
show what you learned and how you met your goals. Your second video
performance should show that you have improved!

For help with your project, view SAMPLE VIDEO on the Ning to see an example of how to do this assignment. The sample video will appear on the ning by Friday, February 26th.

Post any questions you have on the Ning. This can include questions you
have about the technical issues that can come up when you are trying to
make a video.

Your video must be posted by MARCH 1st, 2010!

Have fun!

Part 2: Video Blog Assignment

Step 1: Record a second video of the same song that you did before.

Step 2: Add a written comment to your video OR speak in your video about the following:

-what you think you improved on in contrast to your first video
-what you worked on in practice.
-what you think you could still improve
-Did you enjoy practicing or did you find it was hard? Why?

Step 3: Post on the Ning

Step 4: Listen to at least 2 other videos in your class and comment on their videos. What did you learn from them?

Have Fun!

After the students completed the first part of the assignment, I posted a 5-10 sentence comment on 3 things I thought they did well and 3 things I thought they could improve on for each of the videos.  I included some exercises they could try in their practice that I thought might help.  They responded to my comments and asked more questions to which I responded.

I viewed each student’s performance after they completed their final videos but I did not comment on many of them this time.  An important part of the assignment was for the students to learn from one another and learn how to give each other constructive criticism.  It was encouraging to see big improvements from video one to video two and also see improvements in areas that I had suggested!  The students were reflective of one another’s videos but some did not fulfill the requirement of commenting on at least 2 other videos.

Overall, I think this project was a great experience for me and for the students.  The students had several opportunities to perform and to hear and see themselves play.  Sometimes we do not really realize what we sound like on our instrument until someone records it for us.  I also had the opportunity to listen to players from various levels and give them feedback.  Part of the challenge of being a music teacher is to be able to diagnose problems you hear and help the students find solutions.  This was a great experience for me to try out those skills and face that challenge.

I did a few other minor things with the group. I taught them how to speak a little French for when they sing in French.  I also helped some students with piano playing. I created a sample video for the students to see what their assignments should look like as well.

I wanted to do one final activity with the students but it did not work out for Brandt.  I would have liked to skype with each class and discuss how their assignment went and maybe give them some general tips and tricks that I noticed were problems for most of the students.  Maybe in the near future we will still be able to do this as a sort of conclusion to my time spent with them.

April 6, 2010

Why I Think All Students Should Perform

I hosted a piano recital on Easter Sunday in my home town.  One week from today (eek!) I have to complete a graduating recital (in order to graduate), so I took the opportunity on Sunday to prepare myself for the graded recital and give my family and friends a chance to hear me play.

It went pretty well.  I played for an hour and included about 45 minutes of memorized music.  Every time I have a recital, the first thing I am always asked afterwards is how I can possibly memorize all that music.  It is totally possible! In fact, after you pick up on some tricks to memorizing, its not too hard to learn at all.  In our day to day lives, we really only use a small percentage of our brain.  Our brains are completely capable of handling much more.  We just don’t expect that because we never really need to use too much of it!  Have you ever had to memorize a piece of music before, maybe a poem for a class in high school, or a speech for a wedding?  Could you remember it? Was it that hard to learn or was it just hard to perform it memorized?

The toughest challenge is handling my nerves.  Memorization and nerves do not mix well so I have to very carefully prepare myself for performances and during the performance I have to constantly use positive self talk to remind myself that I know the music backwards and forwards and that I can perform well.  The second I start thinking “O crap! whats next, I forget!” or “geez that sucked”, it all goes downhill from there and things that I can play perfect in practice suddenly sound awful, I have strange memory lapses, or worse…I freeze!  The first piece I performed on Sunday needed a little more positive encouragement because I had a few memory slips and messed up on a few spots when I should have been able to nail them, but as I got more comfortable with the stage and my audience, my pieces started to sound more like they should.

Although not necessarily on piano, I think that all students need to gain experience performing from memory (be it on a instrument, giving a speech, acting in a play, talking to a small group, etc).  Performance provides a lot of challenges that will be good exercise for their brains and help them understand how to handle stress and high-pressure situations. Not many people enjoy performance because most do not know how to handle their nerves and they are scared, but stand up to their nerves and perform and they might feel like they are on top of the world when they can succesfully perform something memorized.  This is something all students should do because no matter where they go in life, they are probably going to have to perform at least once and they are always going to find themselves in various situations where they face feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and fear.  Performing and memorizing may be a challenge for them and will definitely require encouragement, but in the end I am sure they will thank their teachers for that experience.

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