Week 2 – Aventures in composition

So my major lesson this week was one on composition, where I gave the students 10 basic “rules” to follow and asked them to try and write a short melody. I was super excited to do this, you guys, and it went…not as well as I expected. Turns out a lot of the students just didn’t have some of the basic terminology and ideas down that they would need to make the lesson a success – so I spent a lot of time repeating myself and reassuring them that it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. I got a few really nice responses, but the overall effect was that most of the students were too intimidated to give a real effort to what I was asking them to do.

My bad.

The upside is I now have a better idea of the technical knowledge of some of the classes I am working with, and hopefully that means more appropriate lessons in the future. I scaled back a little bit on some of the lessons since then, and met with much better involvement.

I also had a chance to do the lesson based on my ALSAM with a couple classes, and it was great. I got a lot of really invested students, and it felt good to do something with them that they all felt they could do well. My tie-in to music with the ALSAM lesson was asking students to think about what would make appropriate music to accompany the work they were doing – I’m planning to follow up on that this week. Another interesting thing was seeing the different reactions of the different groups of students – I worked with a 3/4 group and a grade 7 group, and while the 3/4 group was super excited to do the activity, a lot of them ended up getting confused by the idea of there being a “right” answer they were supposed to find, even though the activity was about their personalities. The grade 7 group was less enthusiastic initially, but they were much more willing once we started to just roll with what I was asking them to do, and worried less about the results.

Today I gave my first lesson that required the students to do some work at home – and it was very successful. In class we worked on interpreting the lyrics of a couple autobiographical songs, and I talked to them about the different ways that artists and singers will use their music to talk about things that are important to them. The students are now meant to go find some music that they listen to often, and see if any of their favourite songs have deeper personal meaning for the artist. Once they’ve chosen a song, they are going to bring in a lyric sheet to share with the class, so we can work on interpreting the music the way we did with today’s examples. I’m hoping this assignment gives me a chance to get to know the students a little better by learning about the kinds of music they feel is important. I’m hoping for lots of variety in the songs they bring in…or I could end up with 30 One Direction songs. Either way, insight. I can hope, right?

-Emily

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