YMCA Chinatown Band
Recorder & Band Program
Guided Internship
Fall 2010

The YMCA Chinatown band is an extracurricular program which meets on Saturday mornings.  There are two classes:  Recorder (for entry-level students) and Concert Band (for those who have advanced from the Recorder class).  This is the first year the New England Conservatory’s Music-In-Education program has worked with the Chinatown YMCA to educate the youth of this Boston sub-community.

As interns of this guided MIE program, our mission is to not only teach students of the Chinatown community how to play their instruments, but also to engage their minds and their hearts, by taking MIE’s ideas about the power of the arts to engage the children to express themselves in new and exciting ways through sincere mentorship.

Meet the Students

Entry-Level Recorder Class

When we began this program, there were only two students:  Wesley, grade 6, and his sister Kayla, grade 4.  This was the first time either of them had ever touched the recorder.  However, Wesley has a more of a background of music, having just begun taking violin class at his school.  Although the two are on different developmental levels, we sought to maintain an ensemble setting.  Nevertheless, it was our inquiry to discover how keeping the students together would effect their development individually–Kayla as a musician and Wesley as a possible mentor for his sister.

Concert Band (AKA: Flute lessons)

Mingsley came to us a previous participant in the Chinatown Band program as a flautist before the program was on haitus in the 2009-2010 year. Having played piano, Mingsley had a developed understanding of music, but had limited flute technique. Despite our best efforts to grow the band program, Mingsley is our only participant to date since the Band’s revival to date, and as such "Band" became private lessons. Our inqury for Mingsley’s situation therefore, was how three non-flautists would teach a non-flautist how to play the flute. What an amazing opportunity!

Inquiry Questions

Taking a cue from the Intro to MIE course taught at NEC, we had many inquiries that focused our goals for the Chinatown Band:

What can we do…

  • as musicians of different modalities (singer, trumpeter, and pianist)?
  • as musicians in general?
  • as aspiring teachers and mentors?

How can we…

  • become better teachers in challenging settings?
  • help our students become self-sustaining musicians and learners?
  • help out students work together in an ensemble setting?

Although, as individual teachers, we may have different answers to the inquiry questions, however we agree upon these methods on how to become better teachers through our first-hand experiences:

  • Documentation and reflection are crucial to analyzing our teaching and our student’s learning
  • Identify fundamental concepts wherever possible
  • Recognize each learning taxonomy and how to assess student needs

Kristen Abaquin



Below is my documentation of the YMCA Recorder Class over the course of eight weeks.  Having previously experience teaching young students in piano, voice, and dance, I really enjoyed having an opportunity to teach kids how to play the recorder.
I have certainly learned that the kids improve with encouragement and their recognizing display of proficiency.  They also seem to retain information better with repetition, and fun ways to memorize.  I really enjoyed working on this internship because it allowed us as Artist-Teacher-Scholars to teach the kids from square one.  It really taught me the importance of basic rhythm when first being to learn music.  Hopefully the students will continue to learn and play their recorders.

 

YMCA Chinatown Band

 

 


Name: Kristen E. Abaquin

Date: 10/16/10, 10/23/10, 10/30/10, 11/6/2010, 11/13/2010, 11/20/2010, 12/4/2010, 12/11/2010

Context of Response:

Wang YMCA Chinatown Band

Main Focus

Teaching kids how to sight-read standard music notation, while having fun and keeping their interests

Purpose

To promote music intelligence and music interest in hopes to grow/bring back a YMCA band

Framing Questions

How can we most effectively teach our students the necessary information, while keeping their interest, in order for them to be able to practice their instruments independently.

     

 

 

Objective Information  (objective information in the forms of quotations from readings, interviews, etc., artifacts, accounts of events, etc. …

 

Personal Response  (subjective interpretation of events, words, artifacts, readings, questions raised, etc.) …

Implications for Music in Education? (new questions, application of ideas, reconsiderations of viewpoint, etc.) …

(Day 1)  We did not have recorders or materials.  The teacher, Johnny, therefore talked and read from a book to the students (Kayla and Wesley) about what they will learn when they get their instruments.

 

Johnny taught the students the tonguing syllable “tu, tu, tu.”  He had the students sing “tu, tu, tu.”

 

He then attempted to teach them G, B, and A on an invisible recorder.  He had the students then sing G, B, and A (which was all the same pitch).

 

Johnny was not prepared for the first day of class.  Regardless if the instruments were available or not, there is always an opportunity for the students to learn.

 

The Kayla and Wesley were obviously and openly bored out of their minds.  Kayla who was already upset to be away from her mother, continued to cry.  Wesley had a bit of attitude, which Johnny interpreted as a behavioral problem.  I think he was just very uninterested.

 

Having the students sing different notes on the same pitch does not help them differentiate the different pitches.  Again, another display of inefficiency.

 

Angela, the program director, made it clear that being able to read music is the number one priority.  Perhaps they have hopes of growing the program with El Sistima ideas.  We have to teach the youngest, preliminary students first, so they can advance and possibly share their knowledge to future beginners.

 

Class would have been much more productive if Johnny introduced rhythms, at least.  Then we could have played games to make it even more interesting.

 

Preparation is key.  Period.

(Day 2) Today was the first day that Soo, Andrew, and I taught as a team without Johnny.

 

We began class with the cup game, only with toys we found in the classroom.  We took turns “teaching” each other new patterns. We then transferred the cup game idea to standard notation on a dry erase board.

 

We spent the remainder of class learning G, A, and B fingerings on the recorder.

 

Wesley told us that he’s learning how to play violin in school.

We prepared on Friday night and had a game plan before Saturday morning.  Therefore, I felt as a whole, we were much more productive during this class than last week.

 

I taught the first cup game pattern.  At first Wesley and Kayla were a little confused why I wasn’t talking, but as soon as they caught on to the game, they were very interested.  I kept the patterns simple, in hopes to emphasize a beat, rather than difficult rhythmic patterns.  For example, the red toy represented one beat.  The yellow toy was two eighth notes.  The green toy was a quarter rest, and the blue toy was a triplet.  Although they do not yet know what these values mean in notation, they were introduced to the idea.

 

When we drew quarter notes, eighth notes and quarter rests on the board, they were able to translate the same ideas from the cup game. 

 

Although we were able to show them the fingerings, I’m not sure if they’ll remember them for next week.  We covered a fair amount of information on the first day.

 

We discussed during lunch whether Kayla and Wesley should be split up due to age and Wesley’s violin knowledge.  Wesley may be more familiar with standard notation, but I’m not sure if he’s that much more advanced than his sister.  He has a very good sense of confidence, but I’m not sure if it’s quite valid yet.

 

We will need to review notes, rhythms, and fingering every week.

 

Post-class, we also discussed the emphasis of teaching the kids how to read standard notation.  I feel like I’m on the same page with Angela.  They need to be able to read music in order to move on to other instruments more easily.  I learned how to read music when I was 4, and then sight-reading by 5. It is possible, and it must be done.  The more we can teach the students, the more likely they can teach themselves later down the road.  When I teach, I always ask myself “what can I teach my students so they are in good shape when they leave me.”

 

A further note, if we were in a school setting without a music program, I would be all about MIE.  However, we are in an extracurricular music program, where the parents are paying for their kids to learn music.  That is what we should give them.

 

(Day 3) We played the cup game, with the toys again.  The patterns were much more advanced than last week.  Kayla got frustrated and cried.

 

We spent a fair amount of time reviewing the fingerings.  We played short games where I would say “1,2,3…show me B,” and then they’d hold their recorder with their fingers in B position.

 

We then began playing short entries in the book.  We had a method going where they would clap the rhythm, then sing it on “tu, tu, tu,” and then play.  They had a hard time keeping the beat, so I suggested that they tapped their foot while they played.

Last week, my intention for the cup game was for it to be the anticipatory set—something that gets the kids interested, all the while introducing them to what they will be learning that day.  Today, the patterns were so advanced, it took away from the “fun” part, and added extra frustration to an already awkward situation (Kayla is quite sweet, but very shy).

 

The fingering game challenged the students, but only with ideas that they are familiar with.  I once read that we are more likely to learn from what we already know.  We need to make sure to stay on track with what the kids are absorbing or not, and improve upon them next week.

 

I am more sure today that Wesley doesn’t know quite as much as he claims.  He does talk the talk, however.

 

When it comes to playing on the recorder, I am not sure if the students are now just playing by ear or if they’re watching the teachers playing, rather than reading the notes on the page.

 

I feel like I’ve abandoned the MIE philosophy for the purpose of the program.  I believe that this is justified because it is a music-in-music program, not a music-in-education program.  Although, there are always ways we can mentally challenge them with games we’ve learned from MIE.

 

I’ll have to think of other ways to play fun, low-pressure games with the kids.

 

We also need to keep in mind that when we talk to kids like kids, they begin to shut down.  I especially felt a resistance from Wesley.  When I talked to him like I would talk to one of my high school students, he seemed more interested.  Middle schoolers ALWAYS want to be treated like they’re older (although we know they’re still just kids).

 

We’ll have to evaluate how much they’re retaining next week as far as fingering and note reading.

(Day 4) Today we had stands for the first time.

 

Wesley was not present today.  He had to take a test.  Kayla started crying as soon as her dad dropped her off.  Soo and I consoled her by sharing childhood stories.  Kayla showed us some of the drawings from her art class on Saturday Afternoons.

 

We asked Kayla to play a passage with us.  She said that she could not because she couldn’t read the sheet music.

 

We spent the remainder of class teaching her the names of the lines and spaces, as well as reviewing the different notes and values (quarter, half, whole, etc.) and how you can tell the difference. I showed her how I learned the lines and spaces:  Every Good Boy Does Fine” (Lines) and “Space means ‘FACE’” (Spaces). I sent her homes with diagrams We ended class, showing her how to play C on the recorder

 

I enjoy that we have stands now.  Hopefully it will help the kids sit up more straight.  They definitely made music class feel more official.

 

Today was another opportunity to show us that we are not just teachers, we are also mentors and in a way, friends.  I think it is important for them to know more about us, vis versa.  They may be more receptive if they feel like we are real people, not just their teachers.

 

It was a blessing that we had Kayla by herself today.  She was much more comfortable to ask questions, and when she was able to understand, it was a victory for all of us.

 

I think it is extremely important to give them something they can relate to, or ways to remember fingerings, lines, spaces, notes, etc.  If they have a fun thing to remember, it is more likely for them to retain the information.

 

Next week, I think we should try splitting them up.  Perhaps they will learn more individually.

 

We also need to make sure that Wesley actually knows the names of the lines and spaces.

 

What other things can we give them to remember/review what they’ve learned?

(Day 5) Today we decided to split Wesley and Kayla to see if we could teach them more individually.  I worked with Wesley and Soo worked with Kayla.  We stayed in the same room.

 

They learned how to play C.

 

We utilized the same methods from previous weeks (clapping, singing, and then playing, while tapping your foot).

 

We ended class with Kayla playing two measures of a passage and then Wesley playing two measures (a sort of duet).

 

I learned that Wesley is not as fluent in the music language as he claims.  Today was an opportunity to teach him “Every Good Boy Does Fine” and “Space means ‘FACE’.”  He said that his violin teacher uses them at school.  He became excited once he was able to make the connection.

 

I am finding that they are able to pick up more when we stick to our system of clapping, THEN singing, THEN playing, etc.

 

It was very precious when Wesley and Kayla were playing together.  It is my hope that they go home and “duet” for their parents.

So far we’ve been trying to emphasize their notes and fingering.  It seems that Kayla is having a harder time staying in rhythm.  Perhaps next week we can march while playing around the room?

 

What new games can we introduce?

 

Should we bring in easy duets that they can play at the same time?

(Day 6)  I worked with Mingsley, the flautist.  Andrew was out of town, and Soo worked with the brother and sister alone. 

 

Mingsley has been playing flute for about two years now.  I believe he was a part of the YMCA band before it went down the past year.

 

We worked primarily with breath management and negotiating scales.

For the amount of time that Mingsley has been studying the flute, his performance is less than that of satisfactory.  He cannot play an octave scale in any key.  When I asked him why not, he said that he cannot play enough notes.  We flipped through the book together, seeing which fingering he knows.  Turns out that he is familiar with many more fingerings than he currently plays, but is not able to play them well due to lack of air.  I spent the remainder of the class teaching him how to breathe and manage his breath like an opera singer.  His tone greatly improved immediately.  Then, we added D5 to the notes he can play, and slowly worked on a pentatonic scale up to and down from that D.

 

Although I was able to workshop with Mingsley for an hour, I do not foresee any technical improvement until he works with an actual flute player.  He plays piano very well, so he’s fluent in sight-reading and understands how music works, but is unable to demonstrate proficiency on his flute.  Band directors who have taken the many brass, woodwind, and percussion methods classes, are much more successful in teaching kids who play an instrument not like the teacher’s principle. 

(Day 7) Today was our first class after the Thanksgiving break.

 

Wesley walked into the classroom in a bad mood.

 

We warmed the kids up by having them crescendo and decrescendo on one note.  We then had them begin a new song (“Morning Song”) with the notes they’ve already learned.

 

I tried to introduce the kids to the metronome.

 

We ended the class with the kids playing, once again, “Clair de la lune”

Randy came in to film today.

My attempt with the metronome faired on the side of unsuccessful.  We really should have introduced them to it at the beginning.  The kids seem to have very little sense of rhythm.

Today when we asked them to learn the new song, Kayla showed lots of improvement.  Her brother, however, seemed disinterested, and when he played, he demonstrated a sort of back-peddling.

I think something must have happened to alter Wesley’s mood before he came into class today.  He’s usually very receptive to my direction.

The kids were very uncomfortable when Randy came in to film. 

 

I think it’s important to remind the kids how well they are doing, and encourage them to do more.  Randy suggested showing them a video of recorder virtuosos.  Perhaps it will motivate and inspire them to keep playing.

Next week, should we decide to document with video, I think it would be a better idea for us to set up a camera before class starts, rather than have another teacher come in and film.  At one point today, we had four adults and two kids all in one room.  No wonder the kids were distracted.

We have only two classes left before the holiday break.

(Day 8)  This was my last day to teach the kids for this semester.

 

We warmed up by playing whole note, half note, and quarter note values all on the same tone, in hopes that they could learn and simply apply rhythms.

We then reviewed “Morning Song,” focusing on the kids’ trouble spots.  Kayla displayed improvement and retention.  Wesley seemed to have forgotten almost everything we’ve worked so hard to learn.

When their tone was failing, I asked them to sit up like “proper musicians,” with their backs away from the chairs and their feet flat on the ground.  As a result, their tone improved immediately.

 

It is very interesting how Kayla, who is a few years younger than Wesley, has improved over her brother who has a brief, but better background of music.  I think that perhaps she has found something she is naturally good at, and can be proud of her own improvement.

 

Once the kids sat up, their tone improved greatly.  Along with a metronome, I wish I had introduced the students to “proper playing” long ago.

At the end of class, I showed the kids two YouTube videos:  one of a Chinese recorder choir and a silly video of a street performer playing to recorders at the same time with his nose.  The videos displayed the huge range of the recorder, especially that it can be very serious, as well as lots of fun.  The kids seemed very entertained.

 

 

When you’re growing up, for some kids and their families, extra-curricular activities are just like eating your veggies.  You might not want to do it, but in the end, they’re good for you.  Our recorder class is one of Kayla and Wesley’s Saturday activities.  I admire how their mother encourages her kids.

Kayla seems to have found something she can be good at.  Even if recorder isn’t Wesley’s cup of tea, I hope that he continues to pursue music.  He’s very bright, and when he really wants to do something, he does it well.

Should I teach the Recorder class next semester, I think it should be VERY important to establish a method for every class and a set vocabulary so that the kids and I are always on the same page.

 

Soo Kyung Chung

                 


                 My main question I had the whole semester was what I am supposed to do for my students who came to class unwillingly?  Kayla showed tears whenever she was not comfortable, and Wesley was bored if we asked something he already knew.  I was frustrated because I did not know how to handle these kinds of situations. Mostly, I have taught undergraduate students who are already music majors, so they work with me because they need it. However, these kids were beginners and they had to learn recorder, regardless of their willingness.

                  During the semester, they learned how to play the recorder and read music, but I have learned how to animate them and read their minds.  I realized that we as instructors should make the class interesting constantly by playing a game or suggesting something new. However, we kept the same method when we were first reading; first, reading notes; second, reading notes with rhythms; third, fingering; fourth, playing. Also, we reviewed what we did the previous week so that they can remind it, and be ready to move on. 

                  When Kayla was crying, we figured out why, and tried to calm her down by saying that it could happen to anyone or we had the same situation like her when we were little,  or by changing to topics that she was familiar with or assuring that asking questions was really good reaction etc… Nowadays, she does not cry anymore and looks comfortable in the class. This experience will be valuable in the future because I will be less frustrated to handle it.

                  I did not know how to manage with Wesley who is rather reticent. When I asked something, Wesley avoided the answer. He just responded with succinct words. I did not want to bother him, so I just kept going, but I felt disrespected.  The last class, I asked them why and how they came to the class. Wesley said “My mom forced me to come,” and Kayla just shrugged. I understand now better about his reaction even though I had assumed it already before.  I just told him, “Probably you will appreciate your mom’s efforts later though you do not like to learn recorder now.

                  I am not sure about I was saying. Is it really educational to learn something when children do not want to? Is it important at least to try something despite their willingness? Is it more important to listen to children’s opinion?   I do not have the answer, but maybe I can realize later. Anyway, the kids almost can play “Au Clair de la Lune” and “Jingle Bells” by memorization. I hope that music permeates their mind slowly, and becomes one integral part of their lives.

                  I appreciate spending time together with Kristen and Andrew every Saturday morning. It was more enjoyable to do an internship together because we could discuss what we did in class and envision the next class, while eating dim sum.

 

 

 

YMCA Chinatown Band

 

 


Name: Soo Kyung Chung

Date: 10/16/10, 10/23/10, 10/30/10, 11/6/2010, 11/13/2010, 11/20/2010, 12/4/2010, 12/11/2010, 12/18/2010

Context of Response:

Wang YMCA Chinatown Band

Main Focus

Teaching kids how to sight-read standard music notation, while having fun and keeping their interests

Purpose

To promote music intelligence and music interest in hopes to grow/bring back a YMCA band

Framing Questions

How can we most effectively teach our students the necessary information, while keeping their interest, in order for them to be able to practice their instruments independently?

     

 

Objective Information  (objective information in the forms of quotations from readings, interviews, etc., artifacts, accounts of events, etc. …

Personal Response  (subjective interpretation of events, words, artifacts, readings, questions raised, etc.) …

Implications for Music in Education? (new questions, application of ideas, reconsiderations of viewpoint, etc.) …

(Day 1)  Two siblings, one boy and a girl showed up. The instructor taught how to play a recorder, especially three basic notes: B, A, G.

The instructor demonstrated orally how to play between the four quarter notes and four quarter rests. He used the silence with the sound of Shi. I thought this is a good way to distinguish between the real note playing and the silent moment.

The girl never spoke any single word until she asked if she could go home at the end.

Students were not passionate in the first lesson at all. They seemed bored. Even the boy said to the instructor that he already knew about the basic theory such as a treble, quarter note etc.

When the instructor asked students to repeat after him, they didn’t want to follow his instruction. I don’t think because they are shy, it is a question about their willingness about learning.

 After playing B, A, and G, the instructor asked students to play the pitch with rhythm. However, when he sang the pitch of A and G, they were the same as B. It was kind of confusing. He should have sung with exact notes so that kids could differentiate the notes

I wonder how they came to the class. Were they willing to come? Or did their parents force them to come?

If the instructor had introduced the recorder differently, would they have been more interested in the class, instead of having to read a text book? Or if the other students participate in this class, would they enjoy learning in this class?

If the recorder had been prepared for students, t would they have acted actively?

(Day 2) Kristen and I animated students by introducing the game. Four different colors represented the different rhythms. For example, the blue is one clap, the red is two, the green is three, and the yellow is silence. We let them change the order of objects and the rest of members tried to clap. They were better than us in memorization of matching between color and rhythms.

I explained the value of notes(a whole, half, quarter) by explaining that a whole note looks like an apple, a half note is like an half of an apple, and a quarter is divided by four notes. Kristen picked the different rhythms, and demonstrated. The first note was played by clapping; the weak value was played by showing the palm of hands. At the same time, we counted the value by saying one, two, three, and four.

We practiced the rhythms by saying “to-to-to-to” because we should play a recorder with the same method. After practicing that, they just played the recorder. It really worked.

Students were interested in the game. It was a good way to learn about the rhythms, including silence.

 

I was not sure they understood the rhythms, but when we wrote the different rhythms, they could clap. Even with mixing a quarter and a quarter rest, they got it. However, the combination of a quarter rests first and a quarter note following was a little bit hard for them.

 

When they got the rhythms and tonguing, they played well. We introduced the first pitch “B”, and the second pitch”C”. The exercise of the combination of “B” and “C” was the most challenging part for them.

Are three teachers are too many persons for only two students? Two students have a different level, so is it better to teach separately so that each of them will not be bored and can advance faster?

 

The game and mini quiz are good tools for students because they are not bored, and their brains were activated.

 

They were more focused in the class compared to last week. I think the game got their attention. Also the first contact with a recorder made them work better. The advisor at the YMCA told us that how to read music is more important than how to play a recorder because students’ goal is to play another wind instrument by knowing well how to read music. Therefore, we have to focus on how to read music so that they can read notes quickly by themselves

(Day 3) We began with the cup game that we did last week to go over the rhythm. Andrew demonstrated first, but one object contained a complicated rhythm such as a quarter note and two quarter silence. And the retrograde became two quarter silence and a quarter notes. Wesley mutated the four objects, but he kept Andrew’s rhythm. However, when Kayla’s turn came, she suddenly was crying.

 

 

We went over the notes “B” and “A”, and taught “G”. We played also the mixture of B, A, G. This was not easy to play well right away. Before playing the recorder, we did exercises as singing with the pitch or sound of “to” and clapping at the same time. After those exercises, they could play more correctly.

 

 

Even though Kayla was crying, she integrated in the class well after all. When I asked her to play alone, she tried to play. Before finishing, I told them that we’re going to learn about the note “C”, and play between teachers and students like duo.

Kayla might be frustrated about the game. We just let her pass, and we stopped this game. We should know students’ level, and we should challenge them little by little.

It is not easy how get them not to be bored and to advance at the same time. 

 

Wesley played better than Kayla. He understood the notes and rhythm faster and he made the sound more clearly. I thought we’d better try to teach separately, but we didn’t today. 

 

I would like to say them that we will have more fun next week such as by playing duo. I don’t know if they are looking forward to coming here. One thing I noticed is that they are beginning to be interested in the class

When a student cries, how should the instructor react? Kristen reacted pretty well by saying that it is hard to come early in the morning, and it can happen… something like that instead of asking why she is crying.

 

Keeping the method such as singing, clapping, and playing will give them a sense that we can read music step by step. Since we tried to encourage them, whenever they played, we said it was good. How much should we encourage them to play better?

 

I don’t expect now that more people will come; rather we pay special attention to the brother and sister. How do they feel to have three teachers? Hopefully, they are going to practice some until they come next week.

(Day 4) Wesley could not come. Only Kayla came. As soon as she came, she was crying. We asked if her brother not being here with her made her frustrated. She said yes. Kristen consoled, telling her that she was the same when she was a child. I tried to pay her attention to other subjects. I found that she had several books in her bag. I asked her what they were. It was a drawing book. I asked if she could show us. She voluntarily showed us. We praised her talent. She even showed her brother’s work.

 

 It was the first time that she expressed her problem. We assumed that she knew how to read notes, B, A, and G. However, when I asked her to read music notes, she said that she did not know how to read notes. We explained to her that the music score has five lines, and each line or space has a different name. Kristen showed a good way to remember names.

The name of lines is Every Good Boy Does Fine. This represents notes E, G, B, D, and F. The one of spaces is FACE. This means notes F, A, C, and E.

 

She got to know how to read music notes. Also, we could advance well in playing the recorder.

It was not the first time Kayla was crying, so I was less frustrated. When I was interested in her books, she showed willingly. I think it is good to have a light private conversation to get to know her better and also make her more comfortable.

 

Making phrases were excellent ideas to remember notes. However, I grew up with solfege, so for me it is easier to explain that the center C is Do and we name step by step Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, and Do. But the alphabet method is so common here in America, I just kept using in alphabet names to explain. Even at our school NEC we learn solfege, but I realized that the alphabet mnemonic is prevalent.

 

The individual lesson was worthwhile to do. Today, I think she learned more than usual. The private attention was efficient.

How about trying the individual lesson next time for Wesley and Kayla. They might learn more. Especially, Kayla is shy, so maybe it is easier for her to communicate with us. For example, I am kind of shy; I can ask a question more easily when I learn in private lessons than a big class.

(Day 5) First, we gave a lesson to Wesley and Kayla individually, and then we combined them together. Wesley caught up with the class, working with Kristen, and I worked with Kayla. I asked her to read notes first, and read notes with value of rhythm, and then play the recorder herself. After her trying to play, I played the recorder for her.

 

 

I asked her to do fingering on the recorder without blowing whenever she found a difficult passage. For example, for just two notes, I asked her to practice so that she could connect the notes better.

 

We played as duo or two groups. We played two or four measures alternatively. Wesley and Kristen were a group, and Kayla and I were another group. We asked only Wesley and Kayla to play as duo. At the end, I asked them the melody “Clair de la Lune”, they tried, and they almost remembered. I told them to try to remember this melody.

Kayla reacted well whenever I asked her to read notes or play the recorder. She listened carefully when I played the recorder. 

 

Even though they did not play well, it was fun to play in a group. They had to rely on the book to play, which means that they should know how to read music. Also, they got a sense of ensemble music.  I think that memorization is a good way to learn music because they should practice and listen to a

Melody carefully to accomplish.

Even if the ultimate goal for them is how to read music in order to play another wind instrument, I think that playing the recorder well is also important. 

 

I wish students could practice some, but it seemed that they did not touch the recorder since last week.

 

Andrew suggests that we should play a game about rhythm or imagination. We don’t know if we should concentrate in playing the recorder or we have fun activities relating to music.

(Day 6)  I alone taught two kids this time.

When the time signature is three four, I asked them what it meant. Wesley responded well, but Kayla said that she didn’t get it. I asked him to explain her sister, but she couldn’t understand quickie, and then she was crying. 

 

I asked her to read notes, but she stuck even though she was supposed to know because I did not ask her to read new notes. She said that she did not know the notes. I suggested that they draw music notes. I asked them to draw five lines, treble clef and then B, A, G, C, and D that we learned orderly.

 

I always review the songs that we’ve learned before. Since they never practice at home, it is good to remind them what we learned. When Randy visited the class, I asked them to play “Clair de la Lune” that we’ve practiced since three weeks. I was happy because they did not hesitate to play it before Randy, and they played well.

Since every class she is crying, I was not frustrated. I told her that “It is really good to ask a question. You can ask me even one hundred questions. But you know, even I don’t know every answer; in that case, I have to ask Kristen or Andrew.” I tried to calm down her.

 

After I encouraged her to ask a question, she said that she did not how to read notes in the middle of passages. Now I thought she was getting comfortable to say her problem, but I was surprised because I assumed that she already knew notes perfectly.

 

I assumed that they drew the treble clef first time. It seemed difficult for them, so I demonstrated how to draw it. After practicing several times, they drew beautifully. I think this is a good experience for them because they understand notes better by drawing them. I asked Kayla whether it was clearer for her. She said yes.

As soon as Christen left to substitute Andrew, Wesley wanted to say something, but he did not say anything even though I asked him to express. He might be not comfortable about her leaving since he has studied music more with her. We, instructors, were three, and then two, and then today only one. Does this change make them uncomfortable?

 

I realized that reviewing is important, especially for Kayla. That is why individual lesson is good for them. I will try it for next time. I was surprised when Wesley did not want to bring the paper that he drew in class. I don’t know how to interpret his reaction.

 

I had a chance to meet a music teacher who has worked since five years. He already has a lot of experiences to teach children and how to teach recorder. I learned that praising is so important at those ages. Also they can learn faster when they learn something by a game. I am going to try saying more compliments for them, and asking them a little improvisation with only two or three notes. I will see how they can react. 

 

Teaching alone was another atmosphere. I think that I am more comfortable to tutor undergraduate students. How can I interact well with children?

(Day 7) We learned new music,”morning song” that was no new notes. Rather it was composed by notes that we already knew (B, A, G, C). However, after Thanksgiving break, it was not easy to follow the class. In order to warm up, we asked them to blow one note with crescendo, and improvise with two notes.

 

 

When our supervisor, Randy, asked Wesley and Kayla if he could film the class. Randy filmed what we were first reading. We asked them to read notes and finger without blowing. Christen and I demonstrated the song by playing in turn so that they could know how the song sounded.

 

Before we went, I asked them to play the song “Clair de la Lune” that they were most familiar with. They played fluently having they made some mistakes.

Kristen introduced a metronome on I-phone. It was not a real device, but it was a good opportunity to learn about this. However, it was hard to play a recorder with certain tempi because they were not yet good enough to follow it.

 

Filmed by Randy, the kids were not comfortable.

Me either. Especially, Wesley showed grimace when we asked him to play a phrase.

He played badly even though he used to play much better. However, Kayla this time understood the phrase faster. Today, she did not cry. This means that she might not be frustrated.

 

I hope that at least they know one song by heart. That’s why I continue asking them to play “Clair de la Lune”. And in this way, they could feel music and get some confidence.

We have only two classes left before the break.

Randy said that it might be a good idea to show the video of recorder playing performance to the kids. I agree with this idea. By watching and listening to the video, they can learn how the recorder sounds and expresses the music. This will be educational. Also this can stimulate their motivation.

 

The next song they are going to learn is “Jingle Bells”. This song is composed by five notes with a new note, D. This is the perfect song before the break because this is the Christmas season. I hope they can enjoy playing it over Christmas break.

(Day8) We warmed up by blowing a whole note, two half notes, and then four quarter notes so that they could recognize the value of rhythm. After that, we played notes from quarter notes to whole notes.

 

We asked the kids what we learned last week. Fortunately, they remembered that we learned about the piece “Morning Song”. We reviewed it by focusing on the notes that they were not good at. For example, the melody began by “C” and descending “G”, so we asked them to finger only two notes quickly. At the end, they played one phrase alternatively like a duo. We learned the new song “Jingle Bells” with a new high note “D”.

 

When Kayla played the recorder, the sound was good, but sometimes the sound was not clear enough. I just asked her to cover holes well. But Kristen asked the kids to sit properly with a straight back, yet lower arms so that the recorder was close to the body. As a result, the sound turned out much better. 

When we asked them to play the song we learned last week, Kayla played better than Wesley. I was kind of surprised because Wesley had better background of music, and understood music faster. Did one absence have a crucial effect on Wesley? Or wasn’t he in good mood?

 

At the end of class, Kristen showed us two kinds of videos. One was the serious recorder ensemble who played classical music. The kids could see how many kinds of recorders and repertoires there were. The other one was a funny guy who played two recorders with each of his nostrils. The kids enjoyed watching the videos. Hopefully, this can give them more motivation to enjoy music.

 

I realized that the right posture is important because the sound comes out much more clearly. The kids also learned how the right position affected the sound. They could hear the differences.

I don’t know still if the kids come willingly. Anyway this class is one of their Saturday activities. They learn swimming and drawing after this class. Their mother seems to encourage and expand the kids’ potential talents. Hopefully, one day they will appreciate what that they learn from music.

 

I think the repetition is one of our disciplines, so it is important to ask the kids what we did, and review it. In that way, they can have more confidence, and improve.

 

If I have a chance to teach beginners again, I would like to teach solfege this time. I would introduce the scale in C major, calling Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, and Do. Perhaps this could be easier for children.

(Day9) We warmed up by playing a kind of improvisation. I asked them to play one different note after me. I gave the cue to Wesley first and then Kayla. It was interesting to hear a note entering successively. Sometimes, we made an F or C major triad by chance. And I asked them to play two and then three different notes that they wanted to play. We did it in turn. They tied to make different sounds. We ended up playing trill. It was fun because I did not use the score or musical terms such as a whole note etc. I wanted them to play with a certain freedom.

 

 We practiced again “Jingle Bells” that we learned last week. I played it in fast tempo by saying that this is normal tempo, but we will try playing slowly first. The most difficult passage for them was “B-ascending D-descending G.” Especially, after the high D which involved only the third finger, G with first, second, third and fourth fingers came which was challenging. we exercised fingering a lot so that they could remember these movements physically.

 

I asked them to play without looking at the score by saying that it did not matter to memorize it yet. I played with them first, and then I let them play the whole piece. They almost got it. I would have liked to show their mom if she was downstairs, but Wesley did not want to, and Kayla was neutral. 

 

 

A little improvisation was fun because I did not use the score, or strict rhythms. Not only did I just want them to play with a certain freedom, but also listen to each other. They reacted pretty well.

 

Overall, they responded well. Whenever I asked them to play one short phrase, they tried to accomplish it. Each time I complemented their work, so they played better and better.

 

I gave in not playing for their mom because I did not want to force them. I respect their choice. But I did have a chance to talk with them a little bit about how they came to the class. Wesley said that “My mom forced me to come.” Kayla was neutral. I just told them that they probably would appreciate their mom’s efforts one day by saying that many of my friends regret they did not learn how to play an instrument when they were young.

Angela came at the end of the class. She asked the kids which wind instrument they would like to play in the future. They had no idea. I suggested that they audit the next class so that they could see a flute and a trumpet. Angela agreed that they could audit the class after Christmas break. I think this will be helpful to choose one instrument they want.

 

Even though this lesson was well, I still had lingering questions. Is it educational to force the kids to learn something? Or is it better to listen to their opinion? Or how can we convince the kids to learn something?

 

Andrew Gushiken: Recorder






Chinatown Band

 
 


Name: Andrew Gushiken

Date: 10/16/10, 10/23/10, 10/30/10, 11/6/10, 11/13/10

Context of Response:
Wang YMCA Chinatown Band
Main Focus
Getting the kids excited about music
Purpose

For them to experience the world in a new, interesting way.

Framing Questions

How can we most effectively engage these kids? How can we most effectively convey musical ideas to these kids? How can we use what we learned in MIE classes to inform how we teach?

 
 

Objective Information (objective information in the forms of quotations from readings, interviews, etc., artifacts, accounts of events, etc. …

Personal Response (subjective interpretation of events, words, artifacts, readings, questions raised, etc.) …

Implications for Music in Education? (new questions, application of ideas, reconsiderations of viewpoint, etc.) …

(day 1) Recorders weren’t available. Instructor preceded to hypothetically talk about what would happen when they got their recorders.

 

The kids were bored out of their minds, making the boy insubordinate and the girl (who was already crying when the mother left them) even more unhappy.

This was first a case where the instructor was not prepared. Out of the many ways he could’ve sought to make the most out of the situation he did little more than read the book for them. This is a classic example of rote learning, and while there without a doubt needs to be quite a bit of rote learning in the beginning with regards to play any instrument, teaching using such a technique when the instrument isn’t even available to use is not a good idea.

 

I suggest immersion. More importantly, I think we need to engage them and view this learning process as a sort of journey. This way we’re not proverbially shoving knowledge down their throats, we’re helping to guide their trajectory. In essence, we let them do the heavy lifting through self-motivated exploration.

Even if a student doesn’t bring his “instrument” we should remember that the real instrument lies in the mind. He could’ve attempted to teach the kids rhythm through stomping or anything pitch related through singing (he did attempt to teach them about pitches through singing, however he sang the same pitch even though he articulated different notes). Games are the best way in which to engage kids. Maybe doing something as easy as going over nursery rhymes and folk tunes everyone would’ve known would’ve been a good idea

 

What sort of activities could we have played?

The cup game, steve reich, some game that has to do with matching pitches. I just got a list of all the books available in the CPP office. Maybe I’ll go through those…

 
 

(day 2) Wesley is quite a bit more advanced than Kayla. Since he can already play the violin and read music much of what we’re doing is review.

Although this might help him socio-emotionally he might be better suited to be split up from his sister so we can do more advanced recorder playing.

 

However, I can’t decide whether Kayla is helped or hindered by his brother being so far ahead. She seems flustered, although I think since we’re doing this as a group she doesn’t feel as though we’re all looking at her.

Should we split them for at least part of the time? Maybe we could split where 1 of us goes with Wesley and the other two of us go with Kayla and one of us act as students?

We’re really focusing on learning how to read music since that seems to be the main goal here. If they can read music we can switch them over to real instruments.

I’m quite biased since I didn’t learn how to read music until age 10 since I did Suzuki violin, but I think we’re missing out on all the juicy stuff that MIE is about if we just try to run this like a typical music education program.

First, we thankfully have an understanding of flow. I think we need to explore this further and make sure we’re keeping the kids in balance between too easy and too hard. Secondly, I think we should strive to continually get them to triangulate ideas and getting a deeper understanding of music. I think it’s important they understand that the music that’s written down is someone trying to describe what they want to hear. I think we should maybe try to tie things together whenever possible. Maybe we can have them describe the music we’re playing in multiple ways such as drawing what they see when they hear the music (i.e. canon in D exercise), creating their own writing system, and making a story that goes along with it (or at least whether it’s happy or sad)

 

Finally, how can we work within the structure of a typical music education setting while still trying to give these learners an interdisciplinary, inquiry based, multidimensional education that teaches them much more than just music?

(day 3) Played the cup game for the second time with the building block tubes. I wasn’t there for the first time so I made the game much more complex than the last time. Kayla was so frustrated she cried.

I feel that there’s something about using the cups that’s so much better, esp. the clear cup. The clear cup gives them an understanding of nothing, or zero. Also, it’s terribly important to understand where kids are at and where flow is happening and not happening.

 

I feel that whatever we do at the beginning of the class (or at any point in the class) it should be able to relate to what’s going on later. I think we should attempt to teach a song using whatever game we use. We should at the very least afterwards debrief and talk about how we would write the music using standard notation. Having said that, I think I ruined the learning opportunity by getting the kids so flustered that it wasn’t fun. I think that we should always strive to not just use this as a fun game to get the kids interested, but also make the game a bigger part of the class as a segment.

In what other ways can we use games to segway in to what we’re teaching? If we use this game to teach the songs are we cheating their music reading abilities? I know Angela made it clear that learning how to read is the first thing on her agenda, but I want to teach kids to be musicians and get their brains going so that it’ll sprout growth in other knowledge domains as well.

We started getting in to a rhythm of:

1.     singing the notes and tapping our foots

2.     fingering the notes and saying the syllable ‘tu’

3.     playing the piece

This seems to be a really good way to get through the material. The kids adapted quite well to this learning method. Although Kayla may take a bit longer she still gets the notes.

Is adapting to the learning method what we want? Is just teaching the material what MIE all about? I feel there might be better ways for us to engage them and keep their brains in flow even if we’re not doing the same routine that helps them learn the songs best. I feel like we can get their brains to develop more complex skills if we always keep things changing. However, how do we do this while making sure things don’t get too hard and Kayla cries again? Also, how do we make sure these kids advance as quickly as possible?

We took turns playing just two bars of hot cross buns.

I think this is something that I was looking for in the above journal. However, I don’t want this to become routine either. I feel like we should do things just a little different.

I think we missed a golden opportunity while doing this to explain that this was in AABA form. Wesley even said that the first and last lines were the same material.

 

However, again…how do we make sure we’re not getting ahead of ourselves?

(day 4) Kayla came in by herself. She was visibly distraught. We were able to diffuse the situation by getting her to show us her drawings from the art class she had just come from.

I feel she is not comfortable in the current environment.

First, we need to get on of those books and coordinate our lesson plans instead of improvising once we get there. Second, I think since there are so many of us maybe we’d be better served with one of us doing primarily documentation.

Kayla had no idea what the notes on the page were. She had no fundamental understanding of the symbol system we had been using for the past three weeks.

This was a failure on our part.
 

1.     the program is set up on the premise that our main goal is to teach them this symbol system, not to teach music.

2.     we were moving to fast*****

 

Things we can do to rectify this situation in future teaching opportunities both with our current students and in the future

 

1.     We need to either convince the powers that be to change the system or operate in a manner that both achieves this goal as well as our own personal goal of teaching music the MIE way.

2.     We need to check in to make sure that things aren’t going to fast. I think it’d be a great idea to be more exhaustive. “It’s not about the amount or difficulty of the material, it’s about the performance and quality of understanding of the student that’s important.” –Larry Scripp

-we also need to make sure we change the environment of the class to one where asking questions and letting us know things are moving too fast is more than welcome.

We proceeded to try to explain the names of the notes in the treble clef. Unfortunately, we all had different methods from which we learned. Using the “Every Good Boy Does Fine” and “Space Equals Face” methods seemed to stick the best.

I believe we really need students to understand the names of the lines and spaces aren’t just arbitrary. There’s no reason a line below space A should be G in the mind of an untrained musician. Knowing the acronym for quick recall is important, but I think we have to get students to understand the method to the madness. Also, them understanding that the different clefs are modifiers is something of valuable importance.

What would the mystery of mastery have to say about this?

Kayla is not able to play to anyone’s pulse but her own. Also, she doesn’t sustain any notes. She’ll just toot the note (without articulating) and move on try deciphering the next fingering.

It’s becoming clear there is a disconnect between the idea of rhythm, pulse and the melody. Also, she hasn’t quite started to decipher the length of the notes.

I think we desperately need to find a way to connect everyone’s intrinsic ability to move our bodies in time, sing a folk song, and playing the recorder off of sheet music.

I was NOT successful in keeping Kayla engaged when trying to explain time signatures…and therefore not successful in conveying the meaning of the time modifiers.

Keeping kids entertained and engaged is part of flow. We first need to be more attuned to how in flow the kids are but I think what’s more important is having rehearsed how to teach this or at least outline what we’re doing.

First, we need to figure out a way to teach modifiers through games. I think an inquiry in to how we can teach meter to the kids would be quite beneficial.

At the end we always tell the kids to practice…but I’m pretty sure they have no idea what that means.

I think we need to keep remembering what it’s like to be a kid learning the recorder for the first time. I don’t remember a thing about the recorder except that my teacher was mean and she couldn’t connect the recorder to my experiences as a violinist and a trumpet player. More importantly, it was a useless exercise because she treated me as though I didn’t already know how to play an instrument.

Should we really expect the kids to go home and practice? They just started and barely understand the symbol system. Also, I think we need to reassess calling it practice. We need to make it be fun (or at least sound fun).

Since Wesley was not in class last week the two children are in different places. We have decided to split them up. This also helps to make things more comfortable since there’s a 1 to 1 ratio (I’m just documenting)

I this has the potential to be very good.

I think maybe we should’ve done a game at the beginning to warm their minds up (and put them in a more comfortable place).

Soo first started by reviewing what we did last week.

The two memorization tools of space equals face and every good boy does fine has really been helping.

I still think we need them to understand the concept of modifiers, mainly clefs in this instance.

Soo continued to try to try to use Au Clair De La Lune to teach rhythm.

This has been tough for Kayla since her primary focus at this point is primarily recognizing the notes.

I still think we need to back up with Kayla and teach rhythm using the first few things in the book. The point of using the book is not to get through everything, it’s to give them the closest thing to a full understanding of western music that a recorder can give to a young learner.

 

Maybe marching or walking while playing would be a good activity. We did some of this by clapping along as we sang, but we haven’t done this in a while.

Kayla is still not quite articulating. I wonder of what importance this is among the many things we can seek to teach.

 
 

Kristen is working on Au Clair De La Lune. She went over rhythmic values (Wesley plays violin at school and can already read music).

They seem to be working well together and I think this is review for Wesley.

 

Kristen and Wesley are clapping together to Au Clair De La Lune

I think 90% of what we’ve been teaching has to do with pitch. I wonder how we can infuse the rhythmic element to music in to the curriculum more thoroughly.

This is great except for perhaps it might be good for them to clap loud enough for their hands to make a noise. I think there’s something about hearing something on every downbeat and that’s what this is really about.

 

Again, like I said above I think we need to make the feeling of rhythm a whole body experience instead of a nebulous concept.

Soo is working on four seasons. At the end there is a whole note and Kayla isn’t quite holding it for the full four beats. She clearly doesn’t understand the concept of notes being clearly placed in the fabric of time. Also, she isn’t really breathing so she doesn’t have the air left in her lungs to fill out the whole last measure.

I’m increasingly alarmed by how Asian kids don’t seem to have a concept of rhythm. When I watch the black kids at Josiah Quincy it’s obvious that rhythm is interwoven in their culture. As kids we used to do things like go to bon dances and do other cultural activities where time was taught through immersion. Is there nothing like this for Chinese kids in Boston?

Again, to steal from Lyle Davidson, this becoming a whole body learning experience would really help to make this concept stick. Rhythm is something that needs to be felt with the whole body. Maybe even listening to music while dancing or marching would be good.

Wesley and Kayla are clearly not in flow. This looks like classical music education to me.

How can we use MIE concepts to make this a better learning experience?

More games, more triangulating ideas and concepts. I think we really need to enrich this curriculum with an integrative arts approach if this is to become of any worth to us as teachers or them as students.

Kayla is not retaining the concept of articulation

The idea of saying Tu doesn’t seem to be an exciting, sexy idea. Also, due to the responsiveness of recorders and her lack of any sort of framework for understanding how music happens over time makes for absolutely no necessity for articulation and notes speaking at exact times.

The need for articulation in the mind of a student only becomes necessary, therefore once they having an understanding of time.

 

Andrew Gushiken: Flute







Name: Andrew Gushiken
Date: November 13th, Dec. 6 2010

Context of Response:

Wang YMCA Chinatown Band

Main Focus

Getting the kids excited about music

Purpose

For them to experience the world in a new, interesting way.

Framing Questions

How can I best teach a non-flautist how to play the flute as a non-flautist myself?

Objective Information(objective information in the forms of quotations from readings, interviews, etc., artifacts, accounts of events, etc.)

Personal Response (subjective interpretation of events, words, artifacts, readings, questions raised, etc.) …

Implications for Music in Education?(new questions, application of ideas, reconsiderations of viewpoint, etc.) …

 

Jon is teaching Mingsley flute through the standard of excellence book. He’ rehearsing him and it’s clear Mingsley is having trouble being engaged

The best learning environment is one where the learners are personally interested in what’s going on. This is little more than just forcing Mingsley to practice in front of him. Mingsley is not being shown anything new nor is he making connections that will help him outside playing the flute.

How can I best make sure students are engaged?

Keep them in flow through making sure we don’t get stuck on the same thing. I think I’m coming to realize the point of the standard of excellence book isn’t to get through the book but rather it’s a bunch of material by which to teach music.

Therefore, each piece in the book can be used in a myriad of ways. Larry, after all likes to say it’s not the difficulty or quantity of the material, it’s the quality of performance that’s important.

 

Johnny is tapping with his hand on to his lap and this seems to help

This is a classic example of Fischer’s competence readings. By aiding Mingsley by providing a beat to play off of Mingsley is exhibiting higher performance. Continued repetition will eventually allow Mingsley to eventually be able to exhibit a higher level of competence on his own…or so the theory goes.

I think aiding in students achieving higher performance is crucial to achieving their potential, however…at what point does this continual helping cripple the child to the point where he can’t (in this instance) play in time without you?

Also, what other ways are there to aid a student in achieving a higher level of performance (in this case as a non-flautist teaching a flautist)?

Playing along with him, singing along with him, make sure he plays with good posture, conduct or do some other movement to dictate time, dynamics and phrasing like my old teacher used to.

 

Mingsley is having trouble with a piece. Johnny slowed down to attempt to fix things. This didn’t really work all that well since the rhythm still degenerated to play-the-note-whenever-I-figure-out-the-fingering

The tasks therefore needed to be divided. Mingsley needed a way to concentrate on just the notes/fingerings and nothing else.

What can be done in this situation? What do I do when a tricky fingering passage is tripping me up?

I usually slow things down, but also I’ll build a passage one note at a time (first only play first note, then first two, then first three, etc.) or do a myriad of techniques to play with the rhythm thereby making it easier to learn.

 

Mingsley is having a tough time with higher notes…and sustaining notes in general.

I didn’t know this, but he has prior experience with the piano. Sustaining a note on the piano is quite different from doing so on a wind instrument.

This is a great opportunity to talk in simpler terms about different modalities and how producing sound on a piano is different from producing sound on the flute. Through this he will gain a new appreciation behind the genius of the design of both the piano and the flute…and perhaps it will help him to play more musically.

 

How can I help with instrument specific things like articulation? sound?

Always compliment him when he does [almost accidentally] play with a good sound. Get students to reflect on their own playing so they can teach themselves what works. Make sure everything I can help with I take care of (posture, air, phrasing).

In what ways can I still make sure I can help a singer? A percussionist? A pianist???

 

Mingsley’s sound production is not consistant.

Possible problems: Air, embochure, articulation, timing/coordination

Since I’m not a flautist I believe I’d have just as big a chance at harming than doing good by messing with his embochure. Trumpet articulation actually steals most of it’s techniques, in particular multiple tonguing from the flute. Therefore, articulation and air I can definitely help with.

 

Doing breathing exercises didn’t seem to work well

This was my fault. I need to be more coherent in giving instruction on how to do exercises.

Which learning method would be best served here?

I don’t think this needs to be done on a grand scale since this is just learning how to do breathing exercises in order to breath better, but perhaps stimulating Mingsley to explore through inquiry so he:

(1) realizes breathing and cadence is integral to natural speaking and therefore music

(2) air is the fuel for our brains and key to sound production

(3) good breathing habits are key to a sound flute technician and therefore key to music making through this medium

(4) good habits and physical ability to breath can be brought about through exercises away from the flute

(5) through thoughtfulness and a bit of anatomical knowledge anyone can come up with good breathing exercises

 

Mingsley plays with a beautiful, robust sound as long as he remembers to breathe.

I’m beginning to think what is more crucial (especially as a non-flute specialist) is setting the end goal in front of him and letting his wonderfully complex and skilled brain go and get it.

Is this always true? When is describing the details necessary?

 

Much of Mingsley’s problems stem from timing issues

Carmine Caruso (a famous pedagogue) of believed the body wanted to be in rhythm and worked better if everything from breathing to playing was done within a framework of time.

How can I best convey to Mingsley that everything we do in music is done on the canvas of time?

 

We attempted to have Mingsley sing hot crossed buns while I played the melody. this was far from successful

Mingsley’s voice is not of the same tessitura as the flute’s.

How can I get around this? Being able to hear the pitch and sing it is too important of a skill to not teach. Is teaching him to sing falsetto or teaching him about octaves a bigger leap?

I decided to go the octave displacement route. In retrospect I think this was a poor decision.

 

I first attempted to teach him about octaves through explanation. I tried to explain how a note an octave away is both the same but different

While I think after a while he understood the concept, it was not an understanding linked to the personal, physical understanding through singing because he was later unable to sing an octave.

I reverted to classical music education, and this sort of shut down the flow that had previously gone on. In retrospect I should’ve demonstrated the concept through playing hot crossed buns an octave below him then singing it while he played and have him sort of figure it out on his own.

 

We played a game where Mingsley had tell if I was matching the same pitch through singing and playing.

I think I got ahead of myself. I think as far as ear training goes, I should’ve started off by having him tell me if one note was (obviously) higher or lower.

How effective was this game?

I think this was effective in that it got Mingsley back in flow somewhat, but we sort of skipped a few steps which pushed the level of difficulty a bit too close to the frustrating side of things.

 

We then tried to get Mingsley to match the note I was playing. He could only match the pitch if it was within his voice range.

Again, this was a misdiagnoses. I think his ear is far ahead of HIS ABILITY TO CONTROL HIS VOICE. Again, he isn’t using good air and from what I could tell because of this he had serious range limitations. I should’ve worked just on singing technique much the same way we worked on getting a beautiful sound on the flute.

Being able to figure out the next step is crucial.

 

Mingsley was playing Au clair de la lune with very detached quarter notes and disjunct musical phrases. I explained to him that although it might be appropriate in some music, since this was a children’s song performing such a piece with detached notes and without proper phrasing was akin to talking with random pauses and no inflection.

Mingsley thought it really funny when I talked in a disjunct, robotic manner. He clearly got the point because the next time he played beautifully!

How can I make sure learning is ALWAYS fun?

 

I constantly needed to tell Mingsley to play with better posture

there is obviously no self-motivating factor for Mingsley to play with good posture. In addition, his posture is without a doubt a result of his being “the shy asian kid”.

Also being the shy asian kid, how can I direct an inquiry to him finding a self-motivating reason to sit with good posture? Just saying he’ll play better is clearly not enough for it to stick in his mind.

 

Today I was amazed by how such simple tunes can be such powerful learning vessels. In fact, when, after working on au clair de la lune for quite a while I asked Mingsley if he was bored with it and wanted to move on (which I thought without a doubt he was). To my astonishment he wanted to play it more!

This is where 90% teacher and 10% material is clearly seen as evident (not that I’m attempting to toot my own horn).

Today I learned that it almost isn’t about whether the material is good. It’s all about the angle and method by which you slice in to and dissect it.

 

When moving on I tried to make a mantra in which Mingsley remembered three things clearly: beautiful sound, beautiful phrases and steady time.

I got this from my teacher in undergrad. He always tried to pound in to us that we should think before we play. I think perhaps at this point even this much information is too much to keep in mind all at the same time while trying to play an unruly, unfamiliar instrument.

How can I simplify this and always get him to come to the independent conclusion that drives him to remember this without me?

Maybe I should change this to just singing through the instrument.

 
 

In Conclusion

As much as it is exciting to teach older students who will go on to careers in music, we believe it just as important to enrich the lives of everyone through the arts. However, especially with young children we often encounter unique challenges. We found that indeed Eric Booth was right when saying in Teaching Artist and the Artistry of Teaching that 80% of what you teach is who you are. Through our journey with Kayla, Wesley and Mingsley we learned that our students were the focal point of our teaching, and addressing their socio-emotional needs was much more important than getting through Clair de la Lune. In particular, patience and flexibility are key in striving to inspire, stimulate and meet the different learning needs of each individual.

© 2021 New England Conservatory