Music growth- midterm

For my music learning goal, I wanted to learn how to play one song using at least 3 chords while singing at the same time. I chose to learn “Can’t help falling in love” by Elvis Presley. This song uses eight chords but they are on the easier side which is a really good beginner piece to play. My goal for this check-in was to just play the chords of the song and to not worry about singing at the same time. Because I don’t have much experience playing ukulele, I chose to do a simple strumming pattern using two downward strums per chord, and maintained a slow tempo throughout. My friend bought me a ukulele for Christmas and I played around with it but I never really took it too seriously until now.

Below is a link to a video of me playing the song

Some things I need to work on include:

  • Smoother and faster transitions between chords
  • Experiment with positioning the ukulele higher so I can have a better view of my finger placement
  • Left thumb placement on the back of the fingerboard
  • Making sure all my chords sound

In particular, I found it hard to transition to the G chord and sometimes the sound wouldn’t come out right. Also in the bridge section, the E minor chord was the one I struggled with the most because it is the chord with the most fingers that need to be pressed down. If I work on positioning my fingers on the fingerboard in a way where it takes the least amount of distance to switch from one chord to the next, as well as lift my fingers up more, I would see much improvement. I also want to work on practicing on a regular basis and at a scheduled time each day. Consistency is key for improvement, so I want to aim to practice for 15-20 minutes a day. Hopefully by the final check in, I will be able to perfect this song and sing along to it, and maybe even play another song!

Here is a resource I used to help me figure out what chords I needed to play:


School visit

The school visit to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry was an eye-opening experience for me. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but as soon as I walked around the school, I was amazed to see all the resources and facilities that the school had to offer such as a common room for students to interact, a quiet room, a kitchen, and even a music production room. After talking to the students, I found out that many of them had struggled with the traditional style of teaching, which is why they transferred to this school for a less-structured curriculum and a self-directed way of learning. The students come up with a passion project much like what we are doing in tech class, and they decide how much time and effort they would like to put into it. There are no scheduled class times or subjects as subjects are integrated into the projects, and students are assessed based on competency development. It was great to see the tight-knit community of students and teachers and everyone seemed to get along very well. The teachers are always available for help and guidance and do a lot of one-on-one interactions with the students. Although this kind of education isn’t for everybody, it works for many students and provides a strong foundation for their passions and interests that could potentially lead to their career path. When students are given freedom and choice of what they want to do, learning comes easily and naturally.

Video conferencing and assessment

Last week, our class was held in the video conference room where we had a talk with Ian Landy of Powell River Elementary. He introduced us to the benefits of using an E-portfolio instead of the traditional report card for the assessment of students. This kind of formative assessment is meaningful and relevant in the way that it showcases what students are proud of in their work and their learning process. Every individual is unique with different strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to give students the chance to highlight the areas they want to share. One thing that really stuck with me is the fact that not everything needs to be documented/assessed, and that it is a lot easier and practical to assess only what is important. Overall, I really like the idea of an e-portfolio as it gives students a voice in what they want to showcase and it really captures the whole learning development and progress of the child.

Teaching piano week 2

Originally, I was going to start teaching piano last weekend on Saturday, however the student I was going to teach was sick and could not make it to her lesson. Instead, I decided to spend this time to focus on my theory analysis homework. Outside of taking classes at uvic, I also take a class on music analysis once a week in preparation for my exam this summer in August. Upon completion of this exam, I will receive my ARCT certificate in piano teaching which will help me become one step closer to becoming an experienced music teacher. Although I do not need this certificate to teach piano, it will be a great asset to have and help me towards building a professional career.

For music analysis, I have to analyze sheets of music from 4 different periods: the Baroque period, classical period, 19th century art song, and 20th-21st century music. Because I am more familiar with music during the classical period, my teacher and I decided that I should start with this. I was quite overwhelmed at first skimming through the pages and pages of music I had to analyze, which are like the ones in the image below:

My job is to identify certain sections by marking it in the pages of the music such as the exposition (beginning of the piece), the development section (middle of the piece), and the recapitulation (where the theme of the beginning of the piece is introduced again. Other terms include the different themes of the piece which introduce a new key or musical line, the bridge which helps to transition a section into a different key, the codetta which introduces the closing of a section, and the coda which leads to the end of the piece. The questions below are what I have left to complete and it often takes me hours to do so. Through more practice and hard work, I’m sure it will become easier for me and be a great benefit towards my musical career.

Video and audio editing

Today, we learned how to edit videos on IMovie and produce music on GarageBand. I had forgotten much of what I learned about video editing in the past, so everything was new to me. I had a lot of fun playing around with all the different options for backgrounds, transitions, audio, and titles. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of using editing tools such as cutting the length of the video, splitting it into different sections, zooming in, and using slow-motion. I’m sure I’ll start using IMovie a lot more now to edit some of my own videos and create something that I will want to share with my friends and family. It’s also a great way for students and teachers to share content and knowledge by incorporating the use of technology skills along with creativity and fun!

GarageBand captured my attention and interest immediately as I am quite passionate about music. I was pretty familiar with the different sounds and effects that I could make as I’ve had the experience of playing a real synthesizer before. However, it was definitely a different experience playing around with the sounds on my computer, and I find it incredible to be able to create basically any sound imaginable.

Teaching piano week 1

In preparation for my first lesson that I will be teaching starting in February, I looked up some resources and pulled out a few piano books that had been lying around in my basement that I thought would be helpful. Initially, I was feeling a bit lost and I wasn’t quite sure on where to begin. Should I start by teaching my students notes? What about matching notes to the keys on the piano? Dynamics, rhythm, note values, tempo? I realized that there are just too many things to learn about the piano in one session and that it would be far too overwhelming for a child who has never even touched a piano before. After much thought and research, here is what I came up with:

  1. Before starting, make sure the student is comfortable on the chair. It should be just the right height and the right amount of distance from the piano in relation to their size. Their feet should be touching the ground (a foot rest may be required) and they should have good posture.
  2. Allow the student to play around on the keyboard, pressing down on the white keys and the black keys. Ask them how many keys they think the piano has in total. Tell them to notice how the sounds of the notes are lower in pitch on the bottom left half of the keyboard, and increase in pitch as you move to the right of the keyboard.
  3. Teach them finger numbers by tracing out their hands (or right hand only) onto a sheet of paper and write down numbers 1-5 starting with the thumb as number 1
  4. Introduce note names by focusing only on five notes for the right hand (middle c, d, e, f, and g). Show the student where “middle c” is on the keyboard and tell them to play it with their thumb on their right hand (finger 1). Next, tell them to play the next note with their second finger followed by the next note with their third finger and so on until they reach their pinky finger.
  5. Allow them to experiment with playing the five notes in different orders (ex. pinky down to thumb, skipping a finger…. etc).
  6. After a few minutes, the student should feel more comfortable and get the hang of playing these five notes. Show them a few songs they could play by ear by using just these notes such as hot cross buns, and Mary had a little lamb.
  7. Here is a website that I found with really great techniques for teaching kids piano!

This should be enough to cover a 30 minute lesson especially for a first lesson. It’s best to break everything apart and start simple, evaluate how the student takes on the information and applies it, and go from there. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out!

Edcamp reflection

Today in class, we watched a video on what edcamp is and how it is beneficial for both teachers as well as students. It involves a group discussion between educators where they can express their interests, passions, and any questions they have on an education topic. It is different from a lecture-based session in that everyone is able to talk openly and freely with people who share common goals and interests. I think this is a great way to foster creativity and to come up with ideas involving the perspectives and values of other people. Here is some more information on edcamp:

I chose to join the outdoor learning environments group because I am interested in how I can make learning fun and impactful for students other than in a classroom setting. Together as a group, we discussed our own personal experiences in outdoor education, ranging from a simple activity such as reading outdoors, to going on a week long camp. I shared my own memory from high school where my science class went up Mt. Tolmie to identify invasive species such as scotch broom, and we also removed a blackberry bush that was beginning to grow out of control. We searched up images of outdoor learning environments and came across numerous ones like this one below:

I really appreciate this image as it shows the simplicity yet power of creating an outdoor learning environment. Learning circles are great for sharing ideas and having an open discussion but when it is moved outside with the use of natural materials, it creates a whole new experience for students. There is so much to see and do in the outdoors compared to sitting in desks inside of a classroom, and I think that doing more things outside can greatly enhance students’ concentration and interest in learning. It’s fun and easy to do!