Ask a Language Arts teacher what they are trying to achieve with their students, and that teacher will probably mention growth in literacy. He or she wants students to read and write effectively, with understanding and comprehension. Students are likely being asked questions like, "what is the author trying to say?" "How does the author … Continue reading What Are Music Teachers Really Trying To Accomplish?
This week, a colleague was reading a unit plan I was working on, and noticed the phrase "practice improvisation." She immediately pointed out to me that improvisation can't be practiced, and to put those two words together makes an oxymoron. I was not convinced and still am not convinced that this is so. What is … Continue reading Practicing Improvisation
Today, as I attended the fifth biennial Symposium on Music in Schools at Yale University, I became occupied with a question that came to mind as I listened to Sebastian Ruth talk about helping students find their voice through music education. His talk and the discussion that followed included points on developing relationships with students … Continue reading Can Encouraging Creativity Include Correcting Errors?
Music is constructed with patterns of pitches and rhythms. As we have seen over the last two weeks, we begin to learn these patterns aurally from birth and even before. Aural learning continues into the school age years, and is necessary before music reading and writing can be taught effectively. Not only are the raw … Continue reading Improvising With Tonal Patterns
If you've ever written a thesis, book or even a blog post, you probably know that just the right words don't always just come flowing out of your brain onto the screen or page. Case in point, I have already deleted one word and replaced it with another in just these two opening sentences. The … Continue reading Dispelling the Wrong Note Fallacy
It all seems simple in the early grades. Beat is the steady pulse of the music, and rhythm is the changing durations of what is being sung or played. Using movement, students learn the difference between beat and rhythm by walking the beat while clapping the rhythm. Because they are not doing the same thing … Continue reading Rhythm, Beat, and Groove: What’s the Difference?
If educators really want to know how students learn best, they should observe 3- and 4-year-old children. Over the last several weeks, one of the activities my 4-year-old class did was to improvise melodies for the rhyme, "Jack Be Nimble." The children were asked to sing the words, using their singing voice. Naturally, some children … Continue reading Putting the “Play” Back Into Playing (Or Singing) Music
It has been my observation that the words creative and improvise are among the most misunderstood in the field of music education. Both of these words often given a connotation of being original or of being made for the first time from ideas that are vowel or heretofore unknown. Before discussing creative and improvisation as … Continue reading What Is Creative Musical Thought?
One of the challenges that often face music teachers is a tension that develops between students playing music they enjoy, and teachers who want their students to play music that facilitates growth in musicianship. Often, this comes down to the teacher wanting the student to play classical music, and the student wanting to play popular … Continue reading Student Choice in Selecting Repertoire
I view improvisation as a form of conversation. Unless we are giving a prepared speech, people don’t know ahead of time every word they are going to speak. We speak thoughts as they come to mind, respond to what we read, see and hear other people say, forming thoughts that turn into words we speak … Continue reading Teaching Improvisation