Barbara Allen (Joan Baez): Hearing and articulating differences

As we near the end of the semester and a written exam, I always find myself focusing harder on error detection. Error detection is a hugely practical skill for musicians. Working on it and testing it in the classroom presents all sorts of opportunities for dialogue and written work. What it boils down to, though, is being able to hear and articulate differences between what you think is supposed to happen and what is actually happening. Those skills are transferable to many settings, draw on vocabulary essential for a musician, and build on the course’s work on rhythm, pitch, meter, details and nuance. Today’s work on error detection concludes with something that has no mistakes but plenty of differences: Joan Baez’s rendition of Barbara Allen. Continue reading

Radiohead, “Bones”: Hearing and notating syncopation

many thanks to my colleague, David Heetderks, for introducing me to this excerpt last year.

Syncopation is always a tricky thing for me to teach. I want students to perform it well, I want them to read it well, and I want them to be able to notate it. Notation always take the longest because syncopation looks so much more complex than it feels. This semester, I am going to attempt a new exercise for introducing notation of syncopation: a guided rhythmic transcription of Radiohead’s “Bones.” Continue reading

The first activity…

Classes started this week, and it has been … special.  We have a bumper crop of incoming students and a lot of wants and desires from the greater community to balance.  And we’re in newly renovated classrooms with technology that’s still… quirky (to put it nicely).  SO, that’s my excuse for no recorded music (not to mention, no recorded new-content music!) in my first class (I couldn’t get the sound system working).  But I have plans for our next class. Continue reading