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Listening To Music Recordings

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Topic I: Listening to Music Recordings

One of the topics that we have addressed in this class is whether or not to have our students listen to piece of music they are playing. I have to say that in my brief experience of teaching, I have found that playing the piece one works well. When I am working with a group of kids I usually play the piece just one time so that they can get a brief feel of how the piece fits together. I don't feel that by doing this their creative input is being stifled because the students don't remember the entire piece. I kind of relate it to putting a puzzle together, if we had all these pieces and no picture on the box cover to get an idea of what we are building then its going to be a rough journey. Playing the piece is like giving the students an idea of what it sounds like, but by no means is this how it we will play it.

However, I can see where teachers would abuse this method. I have known many teachers who everyday while the kids are coming in to get ready play the piece that they are playing at their concert. I find this is doing nothing more than sending subliminal messages to the students. It's a way of programming the students to sound like the recording. This past marching band season, I worked with a local high school, and the director is a great person and a very good band director, however they kept referring to the recording of the show for musical ideas. I tried not to use the recording at all and let the students do a good majority of the creative decisions. Of course I had to guide them and "steer" so we didn't run off the side of the musical road. I found that by always listening to the recording we weren't performing our show we were performing a drum corps show from 1988. Not only does this turn the students into little playback machines but, where do they get to add a part of themselves in the music? The answer is they don't. But the mentality of, having to get a superior or coming in first or being ready for the concert becomes priority, certainly not the musical betterment and education of the students. However, the education of the students is something that we may think about addressing when we have a break from all those concerts.

Topic II: Experiencing Music through Composition.

We talked about many things this semester one of which was how to incorporate all three methods of being experiencing music. The one that I feel has been pushed to the back is having students learn to compose. For some reason in the music education world, we as educators have made little or no effort to have our students do any composition in our classrooms. This could be for a number of reasons, again the classic of not enough time with all this music that we have to learn. But I think it has a lot to do with lack of ideas and fear of failure. What I think that our colleagues fail to see is the amount of success and stimulation that this would result in. Every student out there listens to music every day of their life and I bet almost every one of them would love to be able to compose a song.

As I have said before taking your computer applications class with this has been great because I can transfer what we learn in the computer class to this class. For example, all those composition programs that we learned to use could be wonderful in a class room setting. They were easy and simple yet offered a wonderful way to allow students with no "formal" musical training to compose. I have a feeling that another reason that we don't compose more often is because we, the teacher, think that it requires a great deal of theory, when in fact it really does not. Furthermore, why do we insist on making students compose for band instruments, why not let them use keyboards. The possibilities are endless when using a electronic keyboard for composition and I can guarantee that almost every student in your class has one at home, with a few exceptions.

In addition, composing will not just allow the students to experience music from a different perspective; it will allow students to maybe better understand what melody is. This also ties in with what we have been talking about in the Wiggins text about how if students better understand the internal workings of music, they will have a far better understanding of its aesthetic



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