Wow. What. A. Week. I know distractions are a part of life, but this week was something else. First we had (multiple) Thanksgiving dinners, followed by a teething baby who wouldn’t nap then a stomach bug that knocked our household out flat for 3 days. My classmate Melinda talks about her challenges with learning piano, like getting her own keyboard to practice. It just goes to show that everyone has different struggles and we are all working towards our own goals!
Unfortunately I didn’t complete all my goals for practice this week. But, I managed to squeeze in short daily practice sessions and learn at least one new skill. My vlog recap will give you a snapshot into my practice attempts this week!
After getting bored with the basic blues scale practice (mostly the shuffle pattern in the left hand), I googled “blues shuffles pattern piano” and came across this video:
I was so happy to see that it was:
less than 5 minutes long
a simple lesson with an outline (and part of a series, so potential for further learning)
included music notation (sheet music)
Yes, I know my goal was to stay away from sheet music and focus on learning by ear, but I couldn’t resist. I realized that I am very much a visual learner, and I was feeling frustrated by trying to learn only by ear. But, trying to stay true to my goal, I decided to make a compromise. I used the sheet music for a brief moment to initially understand the pattern and voicings in the right hand.
LH = play the root and 5th of the chord
RH = play the 3rd and root of the chord (in that voicing)
From there, I was able to use audio only to figure out the pattern in each hand and easily put the whole lesson together. Overall, I really enjoyed this practice because it felt like I understood the pattern and form. I could easily learn this arrangement in another key, which helps explain why you can’t just rely on reading sheet music – you have to really understand what you are playing so you can transfer the skills to other keys.
What I worked on:
Reviewed C Blues scale with shuffle pattern in LH
Learned a C Blues scale lick with a new shuffle pattern in both RH and LH
I learned something new (C Blues lick) despite the chaos this week
Starting to feel very comfortable with the Blues form and scale
Found a good YouTube channel that may be helpful for future Blues practice.
Only accomplished one of my goals this week (Blues scale) and didn’t do a lot of work on the 2-5-1 progression
This week I plan to tackle the lead sheet and learn how to read it like a real jazz musician. I am also excited by the David Magyel YouTube channel, so I will try another lesson. After the half-way point in our learning project, it will be useful to evaluate our progress. Maybe it will mean changing our end goals? What are your plans to reflect on your learning so far?
This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible. After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!
Why I chose Anchor:
First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:
I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of “Serial” and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run. I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff. This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture. I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend. This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person. (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)
I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom. As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity. But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free. So we gave up.
SO, why Anchor? Because:
Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can create, distribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.
easy to use (and nice to look at!)
mobile and web options
Overview of the app:
After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:
**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.
The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout. After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions. There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.
The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip. There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students. You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.
simple, easy-to-use interface
basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow
The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
basic (limited) audio editing functions
everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.
Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface. There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting. Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.
Using the tool personally:
Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!
Using the tool in instruction situations:
I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting. As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on. The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.
Using the tool to document learning and growth:
Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections. Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.
Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions. I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.
Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?
Last week I made my vlogging debut with the beginning of my jazz piano journey. After two weeks of tracking my progress through video, I have learned a few things. First, I need to adjust how and what I record to make the vlog more interesting. In particular, I want to make sure I include some of the “work-in-progress” videos instead of focusing on getting a perfect “take”. I really love what my classmate Amanda is doing to make her vlogs enjoyable to watch. Second, I purchased a phone tripod to make the filming a little more professional and maybe eliminate bad angles. Luckily a few of my classmates had a similar idea, so I found some good tripod recommendations on Twitter.
Here is my week 2 recap:
What I worked on:
Practiced the 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) progression in all 12 major keys (and added in a drum backing track to make it interesting).
Reviewed the C Blues scale (in the RH) and tried playing it with a Blues shuffle pattern in the LH.
Still no sheet music! Focused on playing by ear.
Being able to play the C Blues scale easily from muscle memory. I must have learned the scale at some point over the years and I remembered exactly what to do.
Squeezed in lots of short practice sessions (5 minutes or so), which is about all I can manage with an almost one-year-old roaming around.
I had a lot of difficulty with the Blues shuffle pattern in the LH. I need to spend some slow practice time on this skill.
Difficulty choosing which resource to use next. There are so many on YouTube, so it’s a challenge sorting through the videos. My classmate Daina is exploring Udemy.com, so I might look into that as an option.
Week 2 is complete! This week I plan to continue working on the 2-5-1 progression (and see if there are any other useful videos for practice), playing the C Blues scale in the RH and Blues shuffle pattern in the LH and maybe start looking at jazz lead (fake) sheets.
Week 1 of my learning project journey is in the books! My biggest takeaway from the week is that this is going to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated. Playing jazz compared to classical music requires a shift in how you think and process music. Instead of relying on sheet music, I am focusing on using my ears to listen to the chords and my brain to figure out what I am playing. From a theoretical standpoint, I find jazz music fascinating as you experiment with different chords and voicings. But I also find it frustrating because I am so used to playing exactly what is written on a sheet of music. In some ways, I compare it to learning a new language, where you are translating the words in your head before speaking. This week I am “translating” the chords and creating a visual image in my mind before I play the notes on the piano. Sometimes I rely on the feel of the keys and my hand position, but then my technical brain takes over as I want to know exactly what I am playing. I anticipate this will be a continued struggle as I progress through my journey.
After my initial blog post about the learning project, I received some great feedback about where to look for resources online. Similar to my classmate Brooke, I put a call-out on social media asking for advice of where to start. I received lots of useful information and of course some funny but unhelpful advice.
To document my learning journey, I pondered with the idea of vlogging like my classmate Amanda. Like Amanda, I am completely new to vlogging, but we had a great discussion in class on Tuesday night about ways to document our journey in interesting ways. Here is my first attempt!
What I worked on:
Demonstrated what I already know (basic form of the 12 bar blues)
Practiced play 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) chord progressions using 3rds and 7ths voicings
I figured out the progression fairly quickly and immediately fell in love with the “jazzy” sound
I didn’t resort to using sheet music! This is a big one for me. I practiced strictly by ear.
A realization that playing jazz is a lot more difficult and mentally involved than I thought
Aimee Nolte’s YouTube channel is supposed to be great according to recommendations from my jazz friends. My only complaint is there is a lot of talking before you get to the main practice.
That’s a wrap on week 1! For the next week I will continue my 2-5-1 practice in all keys and maybe starting working on a more sophisticated 12 Bar Blues.
In my relatively short teaching career (six years and counting), I have noticed significant changes in access to technology in the classroom. For the most part, the access has improved with more devices allocated to each school as well as better programs and apps to use with students. For example, during my internship, I still used an overhead projector and the occasional YouTube video (if I was able to book the data projector to use in class), to my current set up with Epson Interactive Projectors and integrated audio and visual technology in each classroom.
An even better example of improved technology for music teachers is a program called “MusicPlay”. It is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 music program with hard copy binders and CDs, available in almost every Regina Public school. Recently, the company released “MusicPlayOnline“, which allows access to the entire library of music and activities, as well as interactive games and exercises. This program is an awesome example of innovation in the music classroom and has changed how I teach students. It is also extremely helpful to deliver engaging lessons when overcrowding means no separate music classrooms and teaching from a cart or teaching in multiple schools.
Knowledge is growing (currently doubling every 1-2 years)
Access is improving (smartphones and Internet- anywhere, anytime)
So the question we must ask ourselves as educators is, what do we teach? If the information we have to offer now will become obsolete in a few years, why even bother? Instead, Arora gave a great suggestion of what to teach:
“We teach creativity”
He explains that teaching creativity will helps students understand how to access, assess and apply knowledge. If we give students the information, they will figure out how to use it. With these ideas in mind, we can begin to understand the importance of student centered, differentiated and inquiry-based learning.
I think it is also fair to highlight the need for arts education is schools. We need to figure out ways to foster and build creativity which can be achieved through thoughtful arts integration in schools. I also think collaborative projects and cross-curricular learning give students different ways to apply knowledge rather than only focusing on learning specific facts. One of my dream teaching jobs would be to teach in a school that uses arts integration among all subjects. Not only has this been studied to improve behaviour issues in school, but I think it teaches students to learn in ways that will be useful in the next generation. The video below gives an example of how arts integration allows for deeper learning in schools. I was exposed to this video in my first year of education studies at the University of Regina, and I thought it was revolutionary at the time. Seven years later, I think more and more teachers are using the arts to change the way students access information.
Returning the focus to social media and our course content, I think there are a few different steps educators can take to bring social networks into the classroom.
Seek out approved networks by school division
Review privacy guidelines and policies of these networks
Educate students on safety and privacy online
Use the networks as a new approach to learning
ReginaPublic Schools strives to provide student and teacher access to quality teaching and learning tools that meet privacy and licensing requirements. Baseline apps, services, and software listed below are provided or supported by the division.
Staff interested in accessing apps, services, and software not listed as baseline, can send their request to firstname.lastname@example.org
As a good practice, I think it is still important to review privacy guidelines, terms of agreement and policies of any network you are using with students. You may also be interested in learning about apps or networks you use at home, maybe with your own children. StaySafeOnline has many resources, including a guide to student data privacy online. I liked how the article gave examples of different questions to ask regarding privacy:
Examples of questions you can use to get both the conversations going include: Does the app or software require account registration? If yes, is any personal information required? What permissions does the app need to function? Does it need access to one’s email, contacts or location details? Do the app developers share personal details with other parties? If so, to what extent?
I think it is probably a good idea to always be a little skeptical before you scroll quickly through service terms and click “I agree”. This needs to be part of our teaching to students so we can be aware of how our data is shared online.
One of the NCTE literacies states that as active and successful participants in the 21st century, you must be able to “develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology”. This goes along with my third idea that we should teach our students to understand privacy and safety online as part of using these tools. Common Sense Education is an excellent resource with lesson plans, videos and infographics about how to protect students’ data and privacy online. I think that privacy and safety should always been intertwined and constantly revisited in any conversation involving technology. Safe access will continue to evolve as new networks and apps are created, so it is imperative to not become complacent with our understanding of privacy online.
Finally social networking is changing how we approach teaching and learning knowledge. In the Brown and Adler article, “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail; and Learning 2.0”, they explain that with the development of “Web 2.0”, our attention has shifted from access to information to access to other people. This new “participatory medium” is ideal for many different kinds of learning. With Web 2.0 comes Learning 2.0 – “passion-based learning, motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something”. Instead of the traditional “supply-push” mode of learning to build up an inventory of knowledge, Brown and Adler explain that there is a “demand-pull” approach to learning. This “demand-pull” is based on students having access to rich learning communities that emphasizes participation.
The article explains the old Cartesian idea of “I think, therefore I am” with the new social view of learning as “we participate, therefore we are”. This social view is a reflection of shifting teaching practices in a rapidly changing world. As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware of these changes and find ways to balance how we share knowledge while being mindful of student safety and privacy.
I think it is important that we continue to teach creative ways of learning and how to apply knowledge. What are some ways you can include this in your classroom today? For me, it’s through arts integration and using social learning apps (from my approved division list, of course). I am also very intrigued about incorporating Learning 2.0 ideas, like passion-based learning with my students. Finally, I want to make a personal commitment to review the privacy policies of all the social networking apps that I use so I have a better understanding of sharing data online and what it actually means. What changes will you make to how you share student data online?
I am very excited at the prospect of learning something new, just for me. I have always had lots of interests that I wish could become hobbies, but it seems like it is never the right “time”. Things like knitting, baking (fancy French macarons), cake decorating, photography, musical instruments, languages, calligraphy…they are all on my wish list of things to learn at a higher level. I have dabbled in these interests, but never committed my ten thousand hours to master these “hobbies”.
Enter Option B- The Learning Project: The targeted learning outcome should be something that is complex to learn, worth learning, and of great interest to you.
As I reflect on my nearly 25 years of classical music training, something I have always appreciated is the genre of jazz. I love listening to jazz (especially live) and the delicate balance between the musicians as they weave in and out of intricate chord changes, rhythms and improvisation. In high school, I played piano in the jazz band and then I sang in the vocal jazz choir in university. Both experiences gave me the opportunity to learn some of the basics of jazz (form, like the 12-bar blues) and improvisation (although mostly for the voice – called “scatting“). BUT, the biggest problem I ran into as a classically trained musician was my inability to go “off-book”. I could fake jazz playing if I had sheet music and spent hours practicing exactly what was on the page. Something I have always wanted to do was to be one of those people that could sit down at the piano and “jam” – play freely and effortlessly if given a few chords or even a key of music.
You might be thinking that this is cheating, since I am already a very capable piano player. And I have a music degree, so lots of theoretical background and knowledge that will make learning jazz easy. But it is hard. This video sums it up perfectly:
In case you don’t want to watch the 9 minute video, here are the reasons given:
Different approach – classical is written out vs jazz is a lot improvising
Classical musicians aren’t taught how to improvise
Different technique – classical (scales, arpeggios) vs jazz (walking bass lines, chords)
Different chord progressions
Different chords (jazz has a lot more clusters compared to classical)
“Colour” chords – in jazz you add notes to chords to make it sound different
Confusing chord symbols in jazz
Jazz requires more listening – to play unique styles (classical music is written out – play exactly what is written down to notes and rhythms)
Emotion vs precision – classical musical is all about interpreting what is on the page (based on an understanding of the time period, composer, etc). Jazz involves a lot of emotion and “feel”.
While this is not an exhaustive list, I feel like it is a pretty good start to show why it is SO. HARD. to play jazz music for strictly classically trained musicians. I sort of equate it to learning a language. When young children start learning a language and are immersed in it, they pick up the nuances and details of the language more easily. I wonder if I had been exposed to jazz from the beginning and learned how to play it, I would be in a different place today. Or if I had ever taken lessons specifically for jazz. I find it so difficult to “get off the page” and always prefer to have sheet music.
With that long preamble, I am excited to use my understanding and interest in analyzing music and theory to develop my skills as a jazz musician. I started brainstorming a list of things I would like to be able to do at the end of this exploration. This includes (but will continue to evolve):
Play from a “Lead Sheet” (a standard requirement for all jazz musicians)
Improvise using different scales, modes and techniques
Play more by ear than reading sheet music
Play a few jazz standards and maybe learn how to “jazz” up a piece like Happy Birthday or Christmas songs
I have a few ideas about how to document the process (video and audio clips) and where to look for “how-to” videos (YouTube: “How to play jazz piano” brings up a lot of options). Does anyone have suggestions of other online resources to use to work on this project? I am considering doing a call-out on Facebook for all my jazz musicians friends and their recommendations. Maybe a Skype lesson could take place?
Looking forward to reading about other project ideas from my classmates!
I would consider myself an ‘early-adopter’ of technology, especially with the Internet and social media. As a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), I grew up in a time when using the Internet was a new way of life as I learned alongside new developments. E-mailing, peer-to-peer music sharing websites (like Napster and Limewire) and instant messaging (MSN Messenger) were all part of my elementary school years. I remember coming home from school, connecting to the dial-up internet (who can forget that connection sound?) and beginning a series of online chats with my friends over MSN. This was the beginning of my social media ritual that would continue and evolve over the next 20 years.
Since I was figuring out these sites at the same time (or before) my parents, they didn’t have a lot of control or understanding of what I was doing on the Internet. An example: Yahoo Chat Rooms. One of my best friends growing up has a brother (who now makes his living creating video games like this one) who was very computer savvy. He helped us create Yahoo accounts so we could join large Yahoo chat rooms with strangers from all over the world. We even figured out how to participate in audio chat, usually with adults. Keep in mind we were young – in grades 4 and 5. All of this took place with our parents oblivious to what we were doing and before conversations about cyber safety existed. Did we tell them where we lived? Did we give out other identifying info? I don’t remember and I shudder to think of the potential dangers we could have encountered. Long story short, if there was something new on the Internet, we tried it.
Fast forward through high school (Hi5, MySpace and eventually Facebook) and I began to see the negative or bullying effects of social media. Does anyone remember the “Top Friends” feature on MySpace?
Then you add in the “relationship status” feature on Facebook…sigh. It wasn’t all terrible though, as it was a really cool way to connect with people from around the world. In grade 12 I went on a school trip to Europe, and our group joined with another group from a small school in southern California. A decade later, I am still connected with some people from this trip and we keep in touch sharing photos of our growing families and professional endeavours. Heading to university, I was able to join ‘Class of 2011’ groups on Facebook and ‘meet’ other students before starting classes. This was extremely helpful to discuss everything from textbooks to the first social gatherings of the semester.
I have spent the last decade exploring successful and failed social media including Google +, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Weebly/Blogger/Wordpress, Tumblr and Snapchat. Some have held my interest longer than others as I feel they add value to my life. Other apps are cool ideas, and should be really successful, but they don’t seem to have the same staying power as more popular apps (like TikTok or Vine [in it’s prime]). For example, I used the app “Mazu” with my younger nieces, and I thought it was a really positive experience. It was created to help teach digital citizenship and the positive power of social media. But then they just stopped using it one day. (Possibly a reflection on the short attention spans of this new generation?)
I am now at the point with social media that I feel “too old” to learn about some new networks, like TikTok. All I know about TikTok is my nieces and nephews had it for about 5 minutes and became WAY too obsessed that my sister (their mother) made them delete the app. As an arts education teacher, I feel like TikTok could be useful for ‘research’ and to reach my students, because we could learn some of the dance crazes like “The Git Up” or “Hey Julie”, but that’s why I use YouTube.
Even dating apps like Tinder and Bumble came after I met my husband, so although I understand the ‘swipe right/left’, it is something I will never experience in my social media journey.
When I consider how social media has affected my personal and professional life, I have a lot of positives but a growing list of negatives. Here is an example:
Snapchat: The only way that I communicate with my 16-year old niece. We have a great relationship and tell each other everything, but if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through Snapchat. According to my niece, it is the only way she communicates with her friends (not through texting or other messaging). Why? Because the chats are not saved unless you want to save them and also through snapstreaks. The stress of snapstreaks is something I know all too well, as I send and receive a picture of the wall every day to my niece to maintain our streak. We have been doing this for 910 days. NINE-HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS. I even have a reminder in my phone – “Snap!!!!! Streak!!!!”. What is the point of this?! It actually causes stress in my life because I am afraid of losing the streak and how it would affect our relationship. Before I gave birth to my baby, I gave my niece my Snapchat login info so she could maintain the streak when I went into labour (turns out my baby came quick and we didn’t have to worry about losing the streak). Is this the world we live in now? I was about to give birth, but one of my concerns was maintaining the streak as I felt like it is part of my relationship with my niece. That being said, I still do it every single day with no end in sight. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).
On a positive note, social media allows me to share milestones, travel and important events with friends and family. I can stay connected with people wherever they are in the world and maintain important relationships. In my professional life, I used Twitter, a personal website and LinkedIn to create a following that led to a full teaching studio of piano students within a few weeks. These positive networking experiences helped me grow and maintain my business. I also enjoy using Twitter to connect with other educators and sharing what we are doing in the classroom. LinkedIn has allowed me to interact with people in other industries that share common activities (like same universities and volunteer commitments).
But with these positives, there are also negatives like #fomo and feeling left out when not included in social activities. I think this is something that is an even bigger issue with our students and something I look forward to exploring further in this course. Also, as a new mom, I have spent A LOT of time on my phone perusing Facebook and Instagram while holding a sleeping baby. It is hard not to compare your baby to other babies and get wrapped up in the “Instagram vs. Reality” world. And then there are sponsored posts/ads (are they listening to our conversations??) that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Finally, as a teacher, I find that I get a lot of student follow/friend requests that I must decline. This is not necessarily a negative, but it does require having a conversation about privacy with my students.
In a recent conversation with my sister (mother of 4 of my nieces and nephews), I said “I hate the internet! I hate social media!”. I could see how it was affecting my sister and her kids and the daily struggles she is having with them and access to social media. She wondered if she should unplug the wi-fi? Move to a deserted island? How can we turn this around? What has to change to make it a positive part of our daily lives? What can teachers do to help our students navigate the constantly changing world of social media?
On that note, I have to go take a blurry picture of my face or the wall and write the letter ‘S’ to maintain a daily ritual.