Shaking Up My World by Going Around The World (or at least halfway)

I have long nurtured my interest of incorporating outside-my-canon musics into my pedagogies. In four short days, I’ll be headed to the other side of the world to participate first-hand in a lot of different musical practices from Indonesia. I have some experience with gamelan, but the rest of these art forms will be new to me. While the musical aspect is only one of three foci for the trip, I am totally stoked to experience new musics because it always gives a boost to my creativity in teaching and love of music.

The trip is a Winter Term trip (2 professors, 10 students) called “Music, Islam, and Disasters in Indonesia.” We will travel via Dubai and Jakarta to Banda Aceh to start our 21-day adventure. While I know that every aspect of this trip will impact my life and the way I view the world, I am particularly excited about the musical aspects and their potential impact on my teaching. Continue reading

Quick Syncopation Dictation: Ai Di Tren Dam Duong Truong

I was browsing through the one disc of Soundscapes that I brought home with me for Thanksgiving and found two related tracks that I can use for a very quick rhythmic dictation featuring syncopation. The recordings I have are a little different than the one I posted here, but the opening rhythm remains the same. I still have a lot to do to get ready to teach (like reading the textbook to understand why there are two tracks of the same piece…), but here are my current thoughts on how this excerpt will be used: Continue reading

“Samoan Moon”: Harmonic dictation in real time

Recently, I have been setting students up to harmonize melodies with simple I, IV, and V harmonies. I usually have them sing the tune a few times to get a sense of how quickly the harmonies change, and then to make best guesses on the harmony that fits.  They try out their guess (the famous guess-and-test method from junior high math!), and revise if necessary. It’s my hope that the emphasis on “feel,” will benefit their real-time harmonic dictation.

The goal of this 10-15 minute activity is for students to write down the harmonic functions they hear in real time, which requires them to react to how things feel.  We will use “Samoan Moon” performed by the Tao Moe family (pictured) I have asked them to write T for tonic, P for predominant, and D for dominant on a blank score sheet that I will hand out. I really feel this should be a quick 5-10 minute activity, but know that every time I do something like this, it takes longer than I expect.  Here’s how I think I’ll do it:

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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

Peter Tosh performs “Get Up, Stand Up”: IDing which version of ^6 and ^7 occurs

On this second day of exploring the minor mode, the skill I want to tackle is being able to identify which version of scale degrees 6 and 7 a composer uses. This song, an example of early reggae written by Bob Marley, has limited pitch material. It’s also highly repetitive. These two factors combine to make it a good teaching example.  Here’s my plan: Continue reading

“Sakura”: Introducing the minor mode

We are now returning from Fall break, and we are ready to start tackling the minor mode. This simple tune is easy to teach by ear and nicely emphasizes the minor mode’s characteristics: ^3 and ^6.  I also have a personal connection to it, as it seems to be the one Japanese tune that my parents taught me as a kid (and that gets taught in elementary schools). Here is my plan: Continue reading

Bai Tango Cho Em (“A Tango For You,” Vietnamese Karaoke Song) [small dictation exercise]

Ok, so it’s really a appropriation of Liszt’s “Liebestraum” No. 3 into 4/4 time and an (even) smaltzier setting.  I would love to work on the vocals, which break away from Liszt’s beautiful melody, but given my time constraints, I’m going to stick with the violin solo that frames the duet. I do hope to take 30 seconds to set up the context for this example, and I’m so very grateful to my Soundscapes book for providing that to me.  Here are some strengths of the example:

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Bagpipes, Leaps in V (new activity)

Goal: Process and transcribe leaps within the dominant triad.
Smaller goal: Some students are bored; the content is too easy for the skills they already have. This music has lots of extra nuance that they can work towards processing, but I have to set it up in such a way that students with weaker skills don’t try to do too much. The set-up I do will end up introducing the idea of skeletal melody (one with no embellishments).

Musical example: Queen of the Rushes (Irish jig, played on the uilleann pipes by Máire Ní Ghráda) Continue reading

Evaluation: Tuvan Throat Singing Dictation

This reflection is an evaluation of the activity I planned/described in this post and implemented in three consecutive classes today.  I was happy with how it went and will describe the strengths, weaknesses, and stuff I might tweak next time I teach this class. Continue reading

New Activity #2: Tuvan Throat Singing Dictation

Back in the classroom tomorrow after a day off for Rosh Hashanah, it’s an exciting day for expanding the content of Aural Skills 1.  We’re ready to start working on leaps within tonic triad, and I was thrilled to hear an excerpt of Tuvan throat singing that was perfect.  All leaps are within what can be conceptualized as a tonic triad.  This feature makes sense because of the way Tuvan throat singing produces pitch (overtone series, given above–the ones heard most often in this music are shaded in with black). It takes a while to get used to listening for the higher pitches and the repetitive segments are easy to get lost in.  So, I’m going to set it up this way: Continue reading