We have all encountered teachers who began some music course or other by asking "What Is Music?" Leonard Bernstein, paraphrasing this often posed question, I suppose, asked "What Does Music Mean?" Many answers have been proposed to the former question, and Bernstein's answer to the latter, after an interesting lecture, was that music doesn't mean … Continue reading How Does Music Work?
Before I begin discussing chords and voice leading, I would like to make two points about music theory in general. Many have the misconception that music theory involves sets of rules from which composers wrote or write music. This is not the case. Music theory is not sets of rules, but rather sets of observations … Continue reading Music Theory Tutorial: Chords and Voice Leading
All assessments, no matter when they are given, are designed with one purpose in mind, and that is to document what the students taking the assessment know and don't know. With this knowledge in hand, a teacher can design leaning, individualize instruction, and teach to a classes overall needs. Beginning of the year assessment offer … Continue reading Beginning of the Year Assessments
I have found that many music educators, especially those of us who spend most or all of our time at the elementary level, have lost a good deal of what we once knew of music theory. We seldom teach much of what we learned in undergraduate music theory classes, never much more than note names … Continue reading Music Theory Tutorial: Scales and Intervals
Music educators now have essential questions on which to base their instructional units and by extension the lesson plans within those units. These questions are meant to get at the heart of the discipline of music. They are not like questions students might be asked such as "what is binary form?" or "who was John … Continue reading What Are The Answers To Music’s Essential Questions?
Lesson plans are only as good as the learning they bring about. For that to happen, the lesson plan must be executed well by the teacher, and the students must complete the learning tasks that are part of the plan. This is a dynamic process, not a static one. In other words, teaching a lesson … Continue reading An Approach to Lesson Planning
When I was a high school student, I was sure I knew what dissonance in music was. If it sounded wrong, it was dissonant, and if it sounded right, it was consonant. An interval of a 2nd, or a try tone, or a seventh was dissonant, and all the others were consonant. Then in college, … Continue reading What Is Musical Dissonance?
I am by nature a very thoughtful person. People who know me well frequently accuse me of overthinking many things, and I have to admit that they are right--I do overthink often. As someone almost constantly in conscious thought about something, there are many thought that come and go, forgotten as quickly as they arrived, … Continue reading The Thing About Learning
In this, the centennial anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth, all sorts of things that this American musical icon did are being brought out into the public consciousness. Of course, most know of Bernstein's work as a conductor, composer and teacher, what with his numerous recordings, lectures, young peoples concerts and musical compositions. Of all that … Continue reading Artful Learning
When asked to advocate for music education, one of the frequently given pieces of evidence is that music education develops creativity or creative thinking. While this sounds reasonable, at times it can be difficult to find much creative activity in the things that students are asked to do in both general music and music performance … Continue reading What Is Creativity and How Do Music Educators Develop It?