In the lecture we completed a 3 week performance task in just 40 minutes. We began with some vocal warm-ups again, and then onto my instrumental piece 6834. We started with a clapping exercise and then transferred that to unpitched percussion instruments. Then those with pitched percussion instruments learned the pitched parts – though remember I pointed out to you wherever possible teach all parts to all students because otherwise you’ve got people sitting around with nothing to do. You can download all of the resources for 6834 here.

Teaching strategies used:

  • Teach by doing not by talking. Almost the entire piece can be learned without explaining anything – and the vocal warm-ups certainly can.
  • Imitation. Make it clear that you’re showing them, then you expect them to do it. This makes them focus when you’re doing it first, because they know they’re on next.
  • Mirroring – learn to play a xylophone upside down!
  • Instrument transfer – learn a rhythm with body percussion, then transfer to instruments. Use similar actions to the movement of the instrument (e.g. clapping to calves, patsch to drums).
  • All students learn all parts where possible – essential in stage 4, not so vital in stage 5.
  • Refer to notation even if they’re learning by rote. It will slowly sink in. (We spent a thousand years developing music notation, and it really is the best way to write most music down, so it shouldn’t be ignored, even in a class of non-readers!).
  • We improvised: I took the first go, and demonstrated that the improv did not need to contain more than the tonic pitch, or simple stepwise movement.

Later in the lab you used the GarageBand version of the same piece to extend our improvisation to composition through the “safe” medium of software and headphones. You all had 10-15 minutes to refine what you did, then export as MP3 which is an important skill.

In the rest of the lecture I suggested you download the PDF of the stage 4 and 5 syllabus, but begin with my introduction to it. We learned that the course in both stages breaks down evenly to Performance, Listening and Composition – in equal parts, tho many teachers fall into the trap of doing mostly performance or listening, depending on where their strengths lie.

I suggested that you not only need to teach these “Learning Experiences” equally, but each unit of work you develop (and you’re doing two as assignments for me) should include all three interraleted around a topic. For example, if in the first task you choose to arrange “Can’t Buy Me Love” then you are probably working in the topic of Popular Music and your listening should be around that song, similar songs, and so on. Your composition task should ask students to take what they have learned by playing the piece and apply it by making their own piece. We make it, we make it up.

We make it, we make it up.

Finally, think about what your angle is for your learning. Are you looking at the chord progression in “Can’t Buy Me Love”? In that case, one of the concepts you’re focusing on is Pitch. Take that same concept through to the listening and composition lessons – the verses use the 12 bar blues pattern, so you could go down that road, or you could simply look at primary triads in one key, several keys – whatever you think they’re capable of. Everything is linked, that’s the key. You allow them to discover by doing, then you allow them to apply that knowledge by making.

I just made this diagram which is something similar to what I scrawled on the whiteboard…

Learning Experiences and Concepts
Learning Experiences and Concepts

Apart from doing some composition and exporting MP3 in the tutorial, we also talked about MIDI – MIDI files, connecting keyboards to computers, and the difference between MIDI and Audio. I showed you a few ways (see the Dropbox video in the lecture 1 notes for more) of linking to content such as MP3s, Sibelius or Finale files and so on from your WordPress blog (where this content is blocked) by uploading it to services such as Dropbox or Divshare. I strongly recommend Dropbox to you, but if you’re mainly going to be working in the lab where you can’t install it, Divshare is probably a better solution. Here’s a tutorial video I made for students last year on using Divshare:

Finally, we finished up by having a serious chat about privacy and copyright on your blog. I covered the areas where you must take extreme care (especially in the area of child protection), areas that are plainly illegal (sharing copyright music from your website), the grey areas (some of which the law actually seems to contradict itself in) and the OK. I pointed out some of the music education material on my website lives in those grey areas… The important thing for you to know is that if you’re unsure about sharing some of the resources you make for your teaching, you can submit it for assessment offline but should still do the online scaffolding.

See you next week for more instrumental playing, lots of looping in GarageBand and maybe even some music notation.

2 responses to “#UWSMTeach Lecture 2”

  1. Thanks james for explaining the strategies you used, inparticular pointing out that everything is linked its only really sunk in now that you can be stuck teaching a song for weeks especially if just the performing aspect takes a couple of weeks

  2. […] Having nothing to say and saying it. What James Humberstone is thinking about composition, music education and music technology. Home1 – The UWS MTeach communityAboutSongwriting for a TV commercialStage 1: watch some adsStage 2: Playing the C, F and G major chordsStage 3: play the chords in GarageBandStage 4: Creating a drum beat in GarageBandStage 5: ordering and recording your chordsStage 6: add a bass lineWDC UnitWDC Student pageCompositionWDC Teacher page RSS ← #UWSMTeach Lecture 2 […]

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