Exploring the Middle Ground: Visit #2

One idea that appealed to me about teaching classes in our wonderful museum was the notion of a middleground–a space/place where none of us were experts and thus we learned differently because the power structure was new.  This week, I’m taking my upper-division theory class to the museum for our second co-taught class. Unlike the first visit/class, I feel like more of an expert this time. I suspect two factors contribute to this feeling: (1) it’s our second visit [and, I assume we’ll all feel more like experts this time], and (2) we’re going to be exploring the concept of genre, something I have spent a lot of time thinking about in my own research [I’m not as sure that my students will feel like experts on musical genres or with the general topic of genre]. Since I feel more comfortable heading into this meeting, I also think I have better prepared students to learn from the experience. Continue reading

Podcasting pt. 3: Thoughts for the future

In this post, I want to do some thinking and organizing about when a podcast is a good learning tool (not just a last-minute work-around for something that I forgot to do). It’s the last podcasting post of three (pt. 1 was reflection on past use, pt. 2 was evaluations of present use). I will draw on student feedback and my own hopes to form some guidelines for identifying good podcasting opportunities and ideas of things to try.  I’ve organzied these thoughts as “good for podcasting,” “bad for podcasting,” “good podcasting habits,” and “ideas I want to tinker with.” Continue reading

Open-ended aural analysis: Ringo Oiwake “Apple Blossoms” (Enka Song)

About a month ago, I tried an experiment.  I let students form their own small groups and asked them to describe (without score) as much as they could on an excerpt from the opening of Beethoven’s violin concerto.  At that point, we had worked on the major mode, step-wise motions, I and V, and identifying meter. As I walked around the room, I heard a lot of peer teaching going on. I liked the format of the exercise, although I felt they needed a few broad questions to help them direct their listening (help them connect back to what the class is doing now).  So, I’m going to try this again tomorrow with a beautiful Enka song: Ringo Oiwake (“Apple Blossoms”) sung by the famous Misora Hibari.  I’ll be using the track off of disc three of Soundscapes (2nd edition), but here is a YouTube track that’s pretty close to my track. Here’s what I plan: Continue reading

Podcasting, pt. 2: Experiments from this semester

After feeling really good about my use of podcasts last semester, I wanted to continue exploring it this semester. My upper division class, Form and Analysis, didn’t seem like the right space for podcasting because we are working at a level of analysis wonderfully fraught with nuance and detail. Podcasts (as I have been using them) are best for passing on factual information, information I assume these upper-division students already have.

So, the experiments landed on my Aural Skills 1 class. This course does not initially feel like a natural fit for podcasting since there is almost no lecture anyways. Furthermore, I do not want to force things into a podcast just for the sake of using the tool. So, I was surprised that I ended up with two opportunities for a podcast use during the first 6.5 weeks of the course. Continue reading

evaluation squared: evaluating my evaluation process

Last week, I experimented with administering my anonymous informal evaluations on-line.  I ran it pretty much as described here, with one exception: I did not hold them accountable (by requiring them to self-report their completion) for returning an evaluation.

I deem this semester’s experiment a failure.  Even though I received good quality feedback, the rate of return was too low for my taste. But, several pleasant surprises and good experiences with this format make me want to try it again next semester with some tweaks. Continue reading

The Thrill is Gone: A strategy for hearing bass and harmony

I just finished reading through some brief reflections (from students) about what’s hardest for them in the process of hearing ==> processing ==> dictating. While I didn’t learn about any new problems, a strategy for dealing with them did emerge. Many reflected that grabbing onto a note and trying to work out possible harmonies kind of worked for them.  I want to refine that strategy with this activity. Continue reading

Informal Evaluations: My Forgetfulness Spawns an Experiment

I completely missed my traditional time for doing informal evaluations (week 5 of the semester). So, this semester I’m going to experiment with having students do them online.  I know the “studies show” that giving dedicated time during class highlights the value I give these evaluations. But, I’m fiddling around with ways to still get students to (1) complete them, (2) take them seriously, and (3) not take class time.  First, a few comments on why these evaluations have been crucial to my development as a teacher… Continue reading