The resources below support workshops delivered at the Scottish Association of Music Education Music Technology conference in January 2016. Tap on the image to view or download.
‘The Piano Staircase’ is one of my favourite videos. It shows that fun really does make a difference! It’s a wonderful example of exciting curiosity and exciting curiosity! The video comes from TheFunTheory.com – an initiative “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better”.
The quote below by Oswald Shallow beautifully sums up why having fun is so important:
Choose to have fun. Fun creates enjoyment. Enjoyment invites participation. Participation focuses attention. Attention expands awareness. Awareness promotes insight. Insight generates knowledge. Knowledge facilitates action. Action yields results.
Enjoyment and satisfaction are their own rewards. It’s this enjoyment that makes you want to do things again – not any certificate or medal or other carrot there might be further down the line. As the quote says anyway, fun = results! (Not to mention the added health benefits.)
Sometimes you hear people say that they’re having too much fun and must get back to work. Well, if you’re having too much fun – keep it up!… Read more...
…on hooks, silence, and iPhone ocarinas!
“If people think something is going to be great they are more likely to experience it as such.” Teach Like A Pirate p122
In part 2 of Teach Like A Pirate the author, Dave Burgess, explains some of the ‘hooks’ he uses to craft engaging lessons. This got me thinking to some of the lessons I’ve been part of that have been special experiences, and funnily enough they all involved some sort of hook – something that excited curiosity!
4’33” by the composer John Cage is a piece that requires an introduction. Possibly his most famous piece, it is 4 minutes and 33 minutes of ‘silence’. Arguably, there is no such thing as silence and so it is really a study of the sounds around us. I introduce it for some time, going into details about the composer, the piece, how it is performed and what it hopes to achieve. I try and ramp up the student’s curiosity to such a level that they can’t wait to hear it! Before we listen to the piece, I ask the students to get comfy – to choose any place in the room, the floor, their … Read more...
Friends and I were discussing yesterday how playing and experiencing music together with other people, in bands, orchestras, choirs, whatever group, is a magical experience. When I’m playing in a group I always feel that we’ve got on a train, and once it gets going we’re not stopping until we reach the end of the journey. We’re a unit, yet we’re still individuals. When we’re in that moment, we’re creating something that is so much bigger than the group. So what is that thing that makes 2+2=5? Where does the extra 1 come from?
For years now I’ve imagined that my (completely imaginary) PhD thesis would been on the phenomenon that is stadium singing. As I’ve carried this idea around with me for so long I knew it would have already been done, and a friend told me yesterday of a Coursera class in Model Thinking where these sorts of things are touched upon. (The next class starts on October 7th if you’re curious about using models to make sense of the world around us. I’ve just signed up – thanks AN, and thank you technology!) I can understand when a group of 10 or 100 people making music together … Read more...
School is soon to start for another year, and one of the first activities I would often do with my new music classes is a piece called the ‘Doggy Walkin’ Blues’. It’s a fun 12 bar blues with a short, repetitive melody based on a pentatonic scale and once mastered (it takes about 30 seconds) leaves room for incredible improvisation by everyone involved. This structure provides a safe environment for kids just to let themselves go. A shared musical experience is a special thing – it brings people together in all sorts of ways. These experiences help to excite curiosity about music and sound in my learners and encourage confidence in their own abilities. Sometimes we are so into this piece that we keep it going for the whole class!
Music is motion – just keep going. Bobby McFerrin
Which brings me to this inspiring video which I saw a while ago and pops into my head every now and then. It’s Bobby McFerrin at the World Science Festival in 2009 playing around with the audience and a pentatonic scale. What’s curious about it is how do we know what to do? How did we know what note that third … Read more...