Putting the “Play” Back Into Playing (Or Singing) Music

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


What Can You Do With A Free Piano Keyboard App?

For several years, I have wanted a piano lab in my general music classroom for my seventh and eighth grade students. Many of them want to play piano, and with just one acoustic instrument, I just don’t have the resources to teach many of them, and certainly not during a class with only one instrument. … Continue reading What Can You Do With A Free Piano Keyboard App?

The Tension Between Expediency and Rigor

Realizing that the world isn’t perfect, and that music directors sometimes do things they feel they have to do but don’t really want to do, I thought it would be useful to explore the tension that often exists between expedient and rigorous. First, I should define my terms. Expedient is training an ensemble to play … Continue reading The Tension Between Expediency and Rigor

Two Realms of Childhood

The Core Arts Standards for Music specify standard and/or iconic notation for planning and making musical works, but do not mention using notation of any kind for responding to music. This may be an attempt to keep responding to music accessible to students who have limited music reading skills, but avoids an opportunity to build … Continue reading Two Realms of Childhood

Jaques-Dalcroze and Rhythm Training

Yesterday, I discussed solfege exercises developed by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. Today I will examine some of his rhythm exercises. Like contemporary scholars, Jaques-Dalcroze found that rhythm and pitch are more easily taught separately than integrated together. Jaques-Dalcroze also believed that because movement, through which rhythm is expressed, is natural to humans, whereas pitch is not, it … Continue reading Jaques-Dalcroze and Rhythm Training

A Better Way To Teach Rhythm

I have noticed that there is a great deal of interest in how best to teach rhythm. Perhaps this reveals challenges that music teachers find in teaching rhythm, made manifest in students’ difficulty in performing rhythms accurately. While I cannot know what transpires in every music classroom, I can at least address problems I have … Continue reading A Better Way To Teach Rhythm

Conduct More, Talk Less

In my July 16, 2014 post, I described a music conductor. That description was drawn from the great maestros of the twentieth century; men like Reiner, Koussevitzky and Bernstein. There is always value in studying how the greats in any field go about their business, and trying to emulate them. Everything I mentioned is relevant … Continue reading Conduct More, Talk Less

What Is A Dramaturg and What Does It Have To Do with Music?

I recently became acquainted with the word, “dramaturgy.” The context in which I found the word was an article discussing the teaching of dramatization to music voice students on a path to learning opera singing. The writer argued that by comprehensively studying a whole opera, including musical, historical, compositional, and biographical aspects, and not just … Continue reading What Is A Dramaturg and What Does It Have To Do with Music?