Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Exertion on Efficiency and Ease of Voice

"The Impact of Specific Exertion on the Efficiency and Ease of the Voice: A Pilot Study" Alison D. Bagnall and Kirsty McCulloch

Previous and current voice literature encourages relaxation for better voicing to avoid muscular tension, strain, and force, for both singers and those who speak publicly. However, evidence shows that those whose head and neck musculatures are active rather than passive have more energy while performing. This article goes through the physiological parts of using ones voice and the process and findings of an experiment based on “Voicecraft” training. In this experiment 10 volunteers, made up of men and women, speech and language therapists and singers, young adults and elders. Each subject was recording immediately before and after their participating in a 3 or 6 day “Voicecraft” training, then were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing their ease, comfort, overall and on specific body parts. Judges then listened to the pre-training and post-training recordings and assessed the differences. 80% of the judges assessments matched the personal assessments, which showed the subjects’ comfort and ease were significantly higher after the training, with no significant change in overall exertion. Although the results of this pilot study conflict with previous teachings and beliefs, it may help define the best way to use the voice to increase clarity, stamina, and maintain vocal health.


Abstract on “The relationship between the piano teacher in private practice and music in the National Curriculum”

By Elizabeth Goddard (From the Cambridge Journal Online- Oct 2002)

This article investigates the relationship between the private music teacher and the music of the National Curriculum that is used in most schools. The article explores present insights and practices in order to gain a clearer understanding of the situation between the two groups as they coincide today. Numerous strategies for improving communications between school and private teachers are discussed with the hope that pupils feel as though their private lessons are working in harmony with their music in school. The research from the article suggests that an increased awareness needs to exist in order to develop the relationship in teaching philosophies between private teachers and the National Curriculum. The article clearly explains that the two groups need to cooperate with each other in order to further the education of today’s musicians.

Basic Saxophone Skills:Reeds Part I

This is the first of a series of articles titled Basic Saxophone Skills that are presently devoted to the conditioning of reeds.

The main ingredient of a saxophonist’s sound is the reed. The reed’s significance is often overlooked by many players, when should be focused on more than any other element of the saxophone. Unprepared reeds lead to all kinds of problems and this article will teach you how to assess your reeds as well as take care of them. Reeds that are played directly from the box cause many problems. Most manufacturers will sell them without taking the time each reed needs devoted to it. Paul Berler discusses a process of “breaking the reeds in” which condition them to last longer and be ready for action when needed.

The Fish

Music is the force that allows humans to express what may not be expressed with words or in other means. Music education is instruction in the symbols used for this mode of expression. This idea comes from the fact that communication occurs through symbols, most easily recognizable in human language. Several "theories" have arisen about how or why to teach music, and how students learn these lessons. Musical content should include conceptual focuses, meaning that musical concepts should be taught instead of hard facts alone, or skills to reproduce music on instruments or with voice. The way in which students learn must allow for individual pacing, and the idea that learning deals with experiences and the rate at which these experiences are encountered aiding in the comprehension involving the whole person through action, emotion, and cognition. All learning, however, occurs only within one's social and cultural environment. Sharing is also a large part of teaching, and this should encompass holistic experiences, or involving the whole being in musical experiences. This is not the only mode of teaching, but it is a solid foundation for ideas on theories for music education and instruction.

Abstract for the article "Generating a Theory of Music Instruction" by Eunice Boardman from the January 2001 issue of Music Educator's Journal.

Woody's Misconceptions Put to Ease

Robert Woody takes five frequet misconceptions and puts them to ease with his dual explanations of "Element of Truth" and "Informed Perspective." Topics such as "Scientific study of music diminishes it's magic" and "The artificial enviornment of a research experiment is nothing like a real-life music classroom" are remedied with two explinations; one of which says that there is truth in the statement, and the other saying that there's a bit of a perspective. Both answers, by default and writer's choice, lead to the ultimate "Yes and No". The 'misconceptions' include the following; "Research adresses esoteric topics that most music teachers wouldn't be interested in", "Scientific study of music diminishes it's magic", "There are some things in music that cannot be measured by research", "The artificial enviornment of a research experiment is nothing like a real-life music classroom", and "Statistics can be used to prove anything."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fitting In Fiddling

(This is an abstract for the article "Fitting in Fiddling" by Karen Townsend Gordy from the magazine Teaching Music, Vol. 13, Number 2/October 2005.)

It is common knowledge that if a student is studying to be a classical musician, they should study classical music. However, many people, including teachers, do not realize that other genres of music can not only bring awareness to other types of music, but can also help the student with their classical music studies. In this article, Ms. Gordy talks about how fiddling can help a student that is a string player with their studies whether they are aspiring to be a classical performer or some other performing genre. The article talks about the Ms. Gordy's personal experiences and sucess of involving fiddling with her teaching. An example she gives of how fiddling helps classical music is the fact that fiddling can improve a musician's improvisation skills. She offers advice for teachers on how to incorporate fiddling with their other teaching methods. Throughout the article, Ms. Gordy repeatedly mentions that a well-rounded education in string music should include fiddling as well as classical music.

Echos from a Teaching Adventure in China

(I have found this article in the MENC's October 2005 edition of Teaching Music)

Chinese Professor Jianhua Lu invited Minnesota University Professor Hilree J. Hamilton to his country. This invite specified a presentation at different music schools in China: Central Conservatory of Music in Bejing, Northwest Normal University , and Tianshui Normal University which are both in Central China. Professor Hamilton was to present different music methods to the music teachers in these schools. This article gives you the Lesson Plan that Professor Hamilton did for each group presentation. One activity they needed to do was to sing in front of each other as an "ice breaker." This would make everyone comfortable. In other words, she had the teachers, once again become students. By this, they did many activites, and discussions. Throughout this two week period in China Professor Hamilton learn that those teachers are dedicated, and motivated to learn new ideas.

"Relax at the Piano" by Katherine Glaser

Relaxation is key to playing hte piano because it promotes a rich, full sound, awell as preventinng injuries. To avoid tension, the pianist must incorporate the entire body- hands, arms, and back-- to work as a unit. Good posture is also important in preventing the undue stretching and overworking of muscles. Besides good technique, pianists must also be smart in their approach to practicing: it is vital to stop before pain arises and never to continue working despite fatigue and tension. Mental fatigue causes carelessness for the body--rests and alternation of work metrials is key to good practice.

An Abstact of "Preface to the Critique of Music"

Preface to the Critique of Music
Charles Seeger

In this article, Charles Seeger talks about how the century of Historicomusicology analyzes an expressive art form. Gods and old Roman styles of music analysis were first used to describe music. Through this analysis of the Romans, value has been placed on music through old Roman methods and continues throughout current times. Musicologists must begin to configure a theory that will be a for sure determinant for the value of music because musicians can play perfectly together and still not have the same opinion of what was played. We must first define as musicians what value is. From there we must begin to formulate a mathematical approach to the analysis of music.

Deep Listening to the Musical World

Deep Listening to the Musical World
By Patricia Shehan Campbell
Music Educators Journal
September 2005, Vol. 92/No.1

Although music is a significant presence is the world today, children are rarely taught to listen to it. Many teachers view listening as a passive process and instead spend time and energy enhancing analysis and performance skills. While these skills are important, active listening can be an invaluable aid in such educational processes.
Listening can be taught in three stages, collectively called the pedagogy of listening. The first stage is a teacher-directed approach, known as attentive listening, that focuses on musical structures. Specific points of focus are identified by the teacher for each listening exercise. The teacher may utilize visual aids, such as pictures or diagrams, to help draw students’ attention to these points of interest, and an analysis or discussion may follow.
The second stage of the pedagogy of listening is known as Engaged Listening. In this stage, listeners actively participate in some form. They may sing along with a melody, tap a rhythm, or perform a dance pattern. This stage is related to a belief that listening becomes more thorough when listeners are able to follow along or participate in the music itself.
The third stage is known as Enactive Listening and is geared toward the eventual performance of a musical work. Listeners are asked to pay attention to the smallest of nuances with the intention of stylistic interpretation in their own performance. While notes and chords are important, that is not the focus of this specific stage.
The role of the teacher is quite important in encouraging active listening. The teacher should identify points of focus, challenge the listeners with questions, and provide visual, as well as audio stimulation. To farther encourage active listening, examples of music from all cultures and backgrounds should be included in classroom study. The variety will keep students entertained, as well as identifying with their vast variety of cultural backgrounds.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Flamboyancy in Percussion Class

(This is an abstract for an article called "Flamboyancy in Percussion Class" by Dan Distefano in the MENC publication Teaching Music from October 2005.)

The introduction of roll rudiments and flam rudiments would be an effective and challenging way to begin instruction for new percussionists trying to learn their instruments. It would also add a new dimension to the lack-luster band method books being shown to today's students. Before teaching percussionists to read music one should start by doing eight consecutive strokes on each hand, eight alternating buzzes with both hands, and flams, one hand at a time. After the rudiments have been introduced and practiced, written music should be substituted in place of the rudiments. In doing these exercises, students should be practicing a high, even, powerful stroke to correctly build the muscles needed to play percussion. These strategies allow ensemble percussionists to develop their hands far beyond what the method books offer while learning and experimenting with traditional rudiments. This method requires new percussionists to go beyond learning how to simply recognize notes and practice interpretation.