Music reflections

My greatest professional strength as an educator who will teach music is my natural ability to help and empathize with people. With my past experiences in taking music classes, I can apply the knowledge that I have learned into my teaching and help me to understand what my student’s needs are. I was once a student who knew nothing about music, but I remember a lot of the techniques my teachers have used to help me understand musical concepts that I can adapt and also use in my own teaching. Having these resources and my former teachers to ask for teaching advice will allow me to effectively help each individual student and meet their needs.

When I think about myself as a future educator teaching music, I picture having a piano in my classroom and playing the accompaniment to songs while my students sing. I feel extremely happy and excited to be sharing and teaching music to others, as it is a huge part of my life. I think that music is so important for the development of a child and for me to be a part of that is a wonderful feeling. Through my passion and enjoyment for music, I hope to create fun lessons that children will remember and impact students in a way where they will enjoy music too. I have a lot of ideas that I want to try out that I have developed through my many years of taking music lessons, my piano lesson teachings, as well as from this course and from my peers.

My greatest area of growth during the year/course has been in the area of integration of other subjects into music. Music is a universal language and can be tied into language arts through poetry and lyrics, math by counting rhythm and note values, science and socials through different song topics, and PE by playing active games with music or moving our bodies to create music. Before this course, I saw music as its own subject and wasn’t aware of all these different connections. By making cross-curricular connections, learning becomes more meaningful and purposeful for students’ learning.

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Teaching piano week 5

After a few weeks of teaching, my students have definitely shown some improvement in their piano playing. I went over technique and scales with the brother and he was able to play a C major scale with both hands. He was playing one octave (8 notes) so I encouraged him to challenge himself and play 2 octaves. This was a challenging task for him as it required him to play another 8 notes, and his fingering got a bit mixed up. I told him to practice this at home hands separately first, and then put them together if he felt comfortable. We then moved on to his pieces. A few weeks ago, he wasn’t able to play both parts (both hands) but after practicing at home he was able to do it! It took him longer to figure out what notes to play as he had to concentrate on two hands at the same time, but I told him to keep practicing at home every day for at least 15 min and he’ll get it in no time. Here is a breakdown of everything that I told him to practice for this week:

  1. C major 2 octave scale- keep the rhythm steady and try playing soft at the beginning and gradually get louder at the end.
  2. Practice practice practice! Consistency is key to seeing improvement, so practicing each piece every day 2-3 times is important.
  3. Once notes are learned, look at other features of the piece such as dynamics (playing loud or soft), slurs( joining of the notes), and chords (playing more than one note at the same time in one hand).
  4. Break the piece down into smaller sections. If you find a particular section of the piece hard to play, practice just that section over and over a few times. This is a much more efficient way of practicing rather than playing the whole piece from beginning to end.

The sister could play her pieces hands together as well and improved greatly from the last lesson I had with her. She was able to play all the notes to their full value and she was able to count how many beats each note had which helped her to keep a steady speed throughout the whole piece. Below is a chart that I made with her to help her keep track of the different notes and rests:

We focused a lot on playing 2-note chords as she found them tricky to play. Instead of playing one note at a time which she is used to doing, her music showed a 2-note chord which meant she had to play 2 notes at the same time. This can be tricky to do especially for young kids who have never done it before. It requires a lot of finger control as you have to play the two notes at the same time and make sure they sound. We practiced the sections of her piece that had these chords and played the chords over and over again, until she felt comfortable. I made sure her wrists were lifted and that finger tips were strong (I told her to pretend that there was honey on her fingertips that made it sticky to play).

Here is a breakdown of everything that I told her to practice for the week:

  1. Work on memorizing fingering (review the hand/finger diagram that we made together).
  2. Look at where your fingers are on the keyboard! Sometimes we forget to look down at our hands when we are so focused on the music in front of us. But looking down every now and then can help us see what note we are playing instead of playing the wrong notes.
  3. Work on dynamics (F for forte= loud and p for piano= soft).
  4. Memorize note/rest value chart.

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

https://vimeo.com/317342599

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: https://www.ukulele-tabs.com/uke-songs/elvis-presley/cant-help-falling-in-love-with-you-uke-tab-13973.html

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.

My learning goals

My main goal for this course is to be confident in my writing in order to fully express what I am passionate about and to connect with the community. Because I am new to the concept of blogging, I’m not too sure what to expect from it. I hope to become comfortable with blogging and to openly share thoughts and ideas, and I’m sure I will be over time and the opportunities that are to come from this course.