#UWSMTeach lecture 2, 2011

Garageband for iPad
Garageband for iPad

Well, I am a slack toad. It is Friday night and I collapse into my chair knowing that the likelihood is I’ll have to complete these notes in the morning. Hey, what can you expect in the week GarageBand for iPad became available? I’ve been a busy boy! And that iPad 2, eh? Won’t have to think up many excuses before I buy that toy. Actually, the biggie for Apple toy-of-the-week for me was the new “Personal Hotspot” feature on iPhone, as those who have been following me on Twitter will have gathered. Now I don’t need the iPad 3G, because I can share the 3G connection from my iPhone wirelessly to my iPad. Genius. And no jailbreaking required.

Something that is going to save me a little time here is that much of the content of this lecture today is in my lecture notes from last year, so pop over there now and read those (although I have made some changes to assignment 1, so don’t use the guide there – I’ll be talking more about that tomorrow). As last week, that means that I can just fill you in on the extras we do. One other thing before I get onto the extras… if you’re blogging with WordPress (or even if you’re not!) check out these get started with WordPress movies which will probably give you some great ideas for how you can deliver your first assignment online.

Not a Powerpoint.

No pointerpointSo I didn’t make a Powerpoint this week, but I did make a presentation in a package called Pages which featured some information on how you shouldn’t make Powerpoints. I included a lot of text by the wonderful John Sweller from one of his papers on Visual and Instructional Design. The main point to take away was that if you write what you’re saying on a Powerpoint, the spoken word and written text cancel each other out, and less is learned. Ideally you should use diagrams on Powerpoints that can’t be understood without your oral delivery (and vice versa) – this is the best use of something like Powerpoint. Keep words to a minimum – only a few per slide if possible. No dot points!

I then took this not-Powerpoint Pages file and explained that I’d created it there because it would allow me to export an ePub file, which is an open filetype for which there are quite a few readers around (check out Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions, for a start).

How is it useful, to be able to take resources for a lesson (I’d included video, scores and other images as useful resources for music lessons) and turn them into an ePub file then? Well, the readers are free, made for all sorts of devices – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc – so you know that your students can open these and use them for revision. And why not just use PDF, MP3, and one of the popular video formats like avi or mp4? Well, because here is one file (it’s based on XHTML, for those interested, with all the links zipped up inside the file) which can contain all of those things together. I have to say, the ePub I came up with for the lecture was a bit slap-dash but hey, you get the idea. Download it here. I have cared about finding the right format for quite a while – don’t believe me? Read this blog from last year! This format seems to me to be the best, although some of the readers do not yet support video and audio…

The NSW Syllabus

We had a good bitch chat about the concepts as listed in the NSW syllabus. You really have to take yourself back to high school here. Memorise those 6:

  • Pitch
  • Duration
  • Structure
  • Texture
  • Tone Colour
  • Dynamics and Expressive Techniques

SoapboxBecause I’d already stressed you out enough by telling you I was going to lecture to 7:30pm, I didn’t go on about what I thought the ideal curriculum would be, but if you want to know (or not, actually), I agree with Lord Richard Gill. If it were down to me I think we could save a lot of time by focusing on pitch, metre and rhythm. Sure we’d discover the other NSW concepts along the way, but you show me a child who understands melody and harmony in stage 4, and I’ll show you a child (the same one you just showed me, by the way) who has been schooled in music outside the classroom. This sounds like I’m getting all old school on your, but I’m not. I mean, what do you think kids want to know about music the most? They want to know how songs are built. Understanding tonic and dominant roles, diatonic scales and further harmony from there is completely what they need to perform, improvise and write their own songs. They also need to know how rhythms are constructed and recorded. Music notation is a good skill for them to have too, so they can write down what they work out. Sure, learning what sonata form is and how it affects form of all different kinds of music for 200 years is interesting, but it’s not practically useful in learning the nuts and bolts of how music works.

Right, I’m off my soapbox. That’s it from last week. You know what you did in the tutorials and they are on last year’s lecture notes if you need them. I’m making something new for tomorrow tho. We’ll have fun. See you there.


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