New Year Challenge: Sound Illustration

Happy 2014!

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start!

I enjoyed a much needed break. During the two-week break, I came across a cool photo journal app, that got me to start a new daily photo journal. I’m enjoying seeing daily pics and enjoying the stories that accompany the images. I’m glad to take part in Blipfoto community!

This morning, I came across an interesting challenge by Cathaber who invited her readers to post their daily pictures with an appropriate soundtrack. For me, image + story + soundtrack = perfect!

Today’s blip is about cold, cold winter. It snowed about 7-8 inches overnight. This would not be that big a deal except that the local newscasters announced that our area is colder than Alaska right now!

So I got to think about what soundtrack I’d accompany my blip today. As I do for many of my classes, I just started listening to music and started making a “Winter” playlist….so here is the selection I made for many new winter songs I came across.

I’m tagging some people who are always listening to music and thinking about teaching connections:

@stepanpruch

@nobleknits2

@royanlee

@malynmawby

@reed_man

@TriToneJones

@scott_watson

For the friends I mentioned (or other readers): I invite you to start a daily picture-a-day (365 project) so that we can do it together. If this is too much ;-) I invite you to tweet or let me know if you write a post with a soundtrack that describes your day. I wonder how many soundtracks and songs we can track throughout the year. Life seen through music, doesn’t it sound just beautiful?

My blip post is here with my playlist!

Here’s to a great year full of music!

~Doremigirl

Sounds of Music #1 – Celebrating December Songs

red-robin

Happy fourth day of December

I still have an hour and a half to wish you this ;-)

So what music have you been listening to? Since my last post, I’ve been rehearsing with my students for many performances that will take place in the next two and a half weeks. I’m trying hard to enjoy each day – the challenges and the joys that come with teaching.

I’m posting two versions of Angels We Have Heard on High. One song, two different styles and pacing. I love both renditions by these great musicians.

 

Music teachers, this type of music making would be fun to do with students – play a song taking turns at the piano! Would we dare to open our grand piano at school to experiment using the strings and the soundboard so that just one piano will be “the” band? Yes!

This is an unlikely duet (two guys!), but the color of the their combined voices is like butter. Who would have thought Brian McKnight and Josh Groban? Awesome. I like that these singers reached the song’s climax without compromising the feel of the song. But then again, we are talking about Brian McKnight and Josh Groban! 

Did you like either of these renditions?

I will post more music recommendations for Christmas,

~ @Doremigirl

(Now I say, “Happy fifth day of December!”)

Simply Take as Much as You Require

Happy New Year!

As we usher in the new year, I stop to think about all that has happened in the past year. I am grateful for all the triumphs and struggles I have experienced. With each passing year, I am learning to see how precious life is and no matter how I feel about this crazy world, much grace shown to me.

I am thankful!

So let’s ring in the new year!

My hope for 2013 as a teacher, mom, and wife is to

1. lead with my ears,

2. follow kindness with my words,

3. and not react immediately.

Listening is probably the most important musical skill I teach each day. I would love to listen to those in my care with purpose. I need to do this!

Kind words can abate sticky situations and bring life to even the young. I want to practice kindness!

Not reacting immediately will be the hardest, for sure. I want my anger to straggle along….ever slowly. I want to live a grace-filled life!

I will leave you with a musical (really, life) thought from Edward Elgar:

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us;

the world is full of it,

and you simply take as much as you require.”

Take time to listen to the music around you. Let the music move you. Share the good and help those around you. Best wishes for 2013!

Yoon

Start the New Year!

Closing Ceremony Music at the 2012 London Olympics

English: Fireworks during the Celebration Conc...

English: Fireworks during the Celebration Concert segment of the closing ceremony at the 2012 Olympics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s August 13th and sadly, the 2012 London Olympics is no more…

The 2012 Olympic experience was an astonishing display of passion and discipline. Danny Boyle and his team delivered a breathtaking 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony. What a way to capture the spirit of the Olympics! I wish that the games would have lasted just a little longer.

Wondrous. Sensational. Dramatic. Astounding. These words come to mind summarizing the athletes, the games, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Before I share a list of songs that were included in a set called “A Symphony of British Music” (so aptly named!), I wanted to highlight the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir and the Liverpool Signing Choir who performed John Lennon’s “Imagine”. During this beautiful tribute, the world watched a surreal performance of the choirs singing with a video clip of Lennon singing the song. There were also young dancers who built a sculpture of the legendary singer/songwriter’s face. As I have mentioned in my opening ceremony post, I think Danny Boyle was brilliant for including so many adolescences in both ceremonies. What do these choirs represent? For me, they represent the beauty of many passionate young individuals coming together to build a strong community with a common love. They will grow, transform, and become stronger as they work together. They make this imperfect world a beautiful place.

I wanted to include a video of these choirs, but IOC took the video down due to copyright issues. Maybe I will get it uploaded here later. In the mean time, I will leave you with a list of the songs that were performed during the closing ceremony. The Spotify’s playlist includes the songs, but the actual performance included many tribute covers by up-and-coming artists like Ed Sheeran. So I’m including the performer list and the playlist below. I can’t wait for the next Olympic games! ~Yoon

{N.B. on August 15: Spotify playlist of the closing ceremony music has been updating since my post! You will be able to hear tribute covers by younger artists, except for Imagine.}

Closing Ceremony Music & Performers, shared by Life of a Rock Star blog:

Spotify playlist:

Collaborative Reflections on EduCon & Arts Education, Part 1

I am happy to post a two-part collaborative reflections written by Michelle Baldwin, Andrew Garcia, Kyle Pace, Elizabeth Peterson, and myself. These two posts are about our EduCon conversation and the Arts Education. Here is part 1. Part 2 will be posted on Thursday. I’m listing the writers below for reference. Come join the conversation!

writers :: blogs :: twitter

Michelle Baldwin: http://avenue4learning.com | @michellek107
Andrew Garcia: http://educationalparadigms.blogspot.com/ | @berkshirecat
Yoon Soo Lim: http://singimagination.wordpress.com | @DoremiGirl
Kyle Pace: http://www.kylepace.com | @KylePace
Elizabeth Peterson: http://www.theinspiredclassroom.com/ | @eliza_peterson


Moving Beyond EduCon 2.3 by Yoon Soo Lim

3 days of EduCon 2.3 were jam packed with meeting my colleagues, thinking and rethinking education (and my role in it), and carrying on conversations about LEARNING environments and good practices for our students. So what did I learn?

Conversation:

Cultivating Connected Learning Experiences through Arts Integration

@eliza_peterson, @KylePace, @michellek107, and I decided to bring a vis-a-vis conversation to EduCon about learning through integrated arts curriculum. Why? It is believed that in our society art, dance, music and theater are considered nice, feel-good things, especially for kids. Take a look at our crowdsourced virtual bulletin board here with teachers answering the question, “Why Integrate with the Arts?”. After reading through these posts, one cannot help but ask a follow-up question, “If the arts are so important, why aren’t they integrated more into the curriculum?”. This is precisely why we wanted to have this conversation with our colleagues at EduCon.

Interestingly, creativity and arts education had been mentioned many times during EduCon, starting with Friday night’s panel. During the discussions of EduCon sessions and in my preparation for our conversation, these words kept popping up: “cultivating”, “connected-learning”, and “experiences”.

These words also happen to be the first four words of our session title :-).

When it came to our session time on Sunday morning, these are the words we focused on.

Why?

Everyday, Elizabeth, Michelle and I are immersed in music while Kyle gives support to his arts teachers. We teach about music, we create music, we teach others how to teach music, and we learn new ways to learn about music. We live and breathe the joys as well as the pains of being “in” the arts field. To move our schools forward and to collaborate with teachers, we motion to cultivate a new culture – to prepare the ground, and foster growth through refining of the mind – for all of our students’ learning. So why does it matter to connect?

This screen shot is from RSA video we shared in our session. The video is RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms of Ken Robinson (05:41 and on). It’s a clear capturing of what a fully-engaged learning looks like. Senses, brain function, and passion all working together, so focused and fully alive!

To the teachers who attended our session in person or virtually, making this kind of “aesthetic experience” mattered. Some teachers grew up being in the arts. For some, they were curious how to integrate the arts in the classroom. These teachers engaged in conversations fully and intentionally.

Some of the examples we shared on our Google Sites were good starting places to delve into deeper conversations with teachers who were in attendance.

Encouragement: if you want connected learning for your students, make it a priority. Take the first step to get in a consistent conversation about what students are learning and how you as teachers can give support to each other.

This charge is for both classroom teachers as well as the arts teachers. WE ARE ALL TEACHERS. We no longer cannot monopolize our “subject” areas and consequently keep ourselves at an arm’s distance. Students will not connect their learning if it is not encouraged or modeled for them. It will be hard. It will be time consuming, but by creating this kind of learning environment, learning becomes real and interesting for students.

Make Arts Your Priority, Admins!

If you truly believe creativity is something that needs to encouraged, and cultivated, make arts education a high priority! I am tremendously blessed to work with administration who support the arts education at our school. I am going to quote one of the administrators at my school: “Creativity, critical thinking and innovation – all are important terms in today’s education. Integrating the arts is a great way to tap into all of these while making learning more meaningful to the students.” Follow Susan’s advice and make it an important priority for your school.

Start with a Simple Conversation, Teachers!

Routinely get into conversations with your students about what they are learning. You are good at asking specific questions to elicit information, teachers! Engage in conversations and learn about what they are learning. It shows not only that you are interested in who they are, but that you are curious about them as learners. Talking to other grade teachers in person is always good idea. Again, connecting with another teacher is something that is time consuming, but in teacher’s lounges, or even in passing, make an effort to start a conversation. If you need help integrating the arts in your discipline, ask an arts teacher you are interested in partnering with. There just might be an area where two classes can naturally work on a project that will bring deeper learning.

I am humbled to have worked with Elizabeth, Kyle and Michelle. I am thankful teachers like Andrew joined in virtually and shared their knowledge during and after Educon. They are not only active in their own learning, they make connected learning come alive. I learn much from them and work harder to make connected learning a reality for my students.

The EduCon conversation was a great beginning. I cannot wait to have more of these important conversations and see the changes in many classrooms. I believe there will be a time when more decision makers for schools will make arts a priority. Until then, our work continues.

Before I end my thoughts for today, I want to ask you to think about a question based on @mrchase’s post titled, Things I know 36 of 365: We’re really good at not teaching kids to sing. Why are kids afraid of singing?

For further discussions on Arts Education, check out:


EduCon Experience by Michelle Baldwin

Educon was a fast and furious experience for me, but one that I will value for a very long time. So many conversations, both scheduled and impromptu at lunch or dinner, have kept me thinking and questioning since I returned home.

During our session, we talked about how arts education helps students to understand not only how everything is connected in our world (as an adult, you don’t just do math at 10:00 in the morning and then switch to science or reading), but also how arts education helps to understand how everyONE is connected. Through music, art, drama, and dance, students can view similarities and differences across cultures. Isn’t it interesting that every culture on our planet utilizes the arts to express what it means to be human?

At one point during our session, we began discussing how the arts really help students learn about each other and work together. I said, “When you’re taking a math test it’s all about YOU. When you’re in a music class, it’s all about US. ” How often in school do students have an opportunity to truly work toward a common goal? Most of the time, that is going to occur in an area where the arts are involved. When I think about how important teamwork and collaboration are in our society, I wonder why students spend most of their academic careers competing with each other for class rank, grades, etc. It’s no wonder they have difficulty translating their learning in school to how to succeed in a connected, global society. By integrating arts lessons throughout the curriculum, students may have more opportunities to work together, to learn ensemble, and to feel the power of WE, instead of only ME.

Thanks to @brophycat for the pictures of our team during the presentation!


The Virtual Experience                                                    by Elizabeth Peterson


Attending a conversation virtually can be interesting. You are listening in, taking it all in, but your voice may not be heard. Let’s face it, one of the best parts about a conversation is the give and take. You can’t just take, you have to give!

The platform used for the live streams at EduCon 2.3 was great because not only were you able to view and hear our session(once it got up and running), but you could participate with other virtual viewers in the chat room.

Our team tried to make sure that other virtual attendees were part of the conversation. There was a give and take going on in the chat room that posed some interesting thoughts, resources and even built relationships. We echoed the important points made in Philly and added our own two cents, making for a full experience.

There is something about listening in on a conversation that allows for great reflection, too. As you sit in the comfort of your home, slippers on, letting the sound of others talk together fill your headset, you have a relaxed feeling of being there. And when you are ready to respond, your thoughts, written out, not spoken, are thought out a little differently than if you are there. You are able to complete your thought, look it over and then send it out to the others in attendance.

I, being Skyped in as part of the presentation team, had the other advantage of being able to speak at times when I thought appropriate. My wonderful teammates would make my talking head a little bigger on the screen and allow me to add my thoughts. (That was another interesting aspect of Skyping in – I was always being projected on the screen in the front of the room! :-) )

At the end of the session, everyone in the chat room made sure we all knew each other’s Twitter handles so that we could keep in touch and keep the conversation going.

The other venue we provided for our attendees was the #artsint backchannel. Here, both face to face and virtual participants could tweet and reply to one another. This backchannel is now in full swing as people are starting to use it more and more! Again, we are keeping the conversation about the ever important topic of Arts Integration alive!

Sure, there are limitations to being virtually in attendance to a conversation among peers. But this is yet another wonderful example of what the virtual world can do for us as educators. We connect online, have opportunities to converse in person and continue the discussions for weeks and months into the future.

See what happens when you allow teachers to connect? Go us!

Thanks to @brophycat for the pictures of our team during the presentation!



ATTENDING EDUCON VIRTUALLY                       by Andrew Garcia

Despite the video feed glitch delaying my remote entry to the Arts Integration conversation, I found attending virtually to have several benefits (some of which I tweeted using the hashtag #noncon). First, the view of the presenters and what they were saying was clear (most of the time). From home there is no obstructed view or “overflow room”. Second, it is actually easier to ‘take notes’ during conversations by listening and writing and/or live-tweeting. This would quickly become annoying to a neighbor if I were actually present at Educon. (One great benefit of being an auditory learner is the ability to at once listen and type!) Question is, which is more important? Silent and still listening to preserve the peace of your proximal #educon attendee or to passionately listen, process, type and connect (w/ others on a backchannel)? Who is to say that the backchannel conversations aren’t the ones that will assure that the message lives beyond the moment?

To me, at least with regard to conversations, I learn best by listening and processing. Right there, right then. With any good talk, keynote, session, workshop, ‘conversation’ NOW is the moment to key into. (And why so much Professional Development efforts fail- it’s too easy to lose that lovin’ feeling once tomorrow comes.) Attending virtually, I was 100% THERE and turned ON to the moment/topic at hand. I was simultaneously documenting the moment. As Connie Weber of Fireside Learning wrote to me after the keynote, “I definitely felt you there!” Being ‘there’ is all about the quality of attention and intention. I might argue that some folks “at” Educon, may, at times, have been physically there but mentally elsewhere. If I were at Educon, I would have been, at least to some extent, distracted by all the awesome Educators around me (‘OMG, there’s @willrich45!!’). And, if reading the tweets of some of my followers is any indication, this is definitely true for them, too.

Third, attending Educon online actually allowed freedom to attend multiple conversations without being considered rude. I was interested in many conversations that were scheduled at the same time. I would time my exits accordingly (a lull in the conversation, a tech problem, but I always returned). Doing so also allowed me to be a minor asset to presenters. I took screenshots of conversations and posted them at BOX.net-free for the taking. Many presenters were grateful to have “evidence” of them in action for their professional portfolios. I was happy to be a minor but helpful resource.

Finally, far from feeling alienated and excluded by those attending Educon, I would argue that relationships with #educon friends in my Twitter PLN, were kicked UP a notch. Circumstances (multiple snow days, committee obligations) kept me away from Philadelphia during Educon 2011 but I feel closer to those who attended than I did before as a result of the conference, and the multiple live and virtual conversations being had in those 2 thought-provoking days. Sure, I would have loved to see @NMHS_Principal’s karaoke skills. But (apparently) I am glad I missed the Applebee’s experience on Friday night. (Eh?) It also was a plus to be able to prepare a meal and/or go to the bathroom without missing a word that was said. Good perks, those! All this said, I can’t wait to be at ISTE2011. Live. In person.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There you have it. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Thursday’s collaborative post, Part 2.

~ Yoon

MiM Project: A Review

The thought of summer seems so long ago now that the school is in full swing.
I stop now to think back to the glorious days of summer.

This past summer was full of learning. I read books, blogs and checked out all of the wonderful sites my PLN had shared every day. Each day was packed with great discoveries.

So I started making a list of things I wanted to try this fall.

First project I wanted to start this year with my 8th graders came from @JaworskiMusic (Nick Jaworski) whom I’ve recently gotten to know. He has a fabulous blog about music education and teaching. One particular post, Music as Identity, caught my attention. Intentionally, I didn’t listen to a student project Nicholas had posted, but wanted to adapt this project for my students*. Thanks, Nick, for a great idea! This is how I remixed your lesson (now I can listen to your student’s project). * Nick’s students are High School students and mine are in Middle School.

Neon music sign

Image via Wikipedia

Music in Me Project

Make a 2-3 minute audio collage about the music you like and what you think it says about you.

This was a perfect way for me to learn several things about my students in the beginning of the year:

  • What role does music play in students’ lives?
  • What kind of music affects them or have meaning?
  • How will they express their thoughts in narrative writing?
  • How long were they going to take to edit music and audio recording in GarageBand/Audacity?

So with excitement, I explained the project to my students (given to them as well in the project handout). There were a lot of legit questions from them:

  1. Could we use songs with explicit words? - Answer: Yes, as this was a project about them. I wanted them to own their project and create something they were going to feel good about. Each student were to bring their 4-5 selections of MP3s to upload into school iMacs. We also planned to get rid of explicit songs so that younger students wouldn’t access them.
  2. Do we have to start writing on Google Docs? - Answer: No. But eventually, what you write should be shared with me so that I can give some feedback or assess their progress and for easy access.
  3. Wait, what is an audio collage?Answer: Selections of music pieced together, edited by the students. The narration will either introduce the songs or be playing while the music is playing.
  4. I don’t know how to edit songs. – Answer: You will! Let’s get working so that you will learn.

So for next three weeks, students (we meet twice in 6-day rotation):

  • chose 4-5 songs they love and reflect who they are.
  • created their narratives on Google Docs. This made it so easy for me to instantaneously check their work and make comments and communicate with them.
  • learned to export MP3 files from their personal collections and import them onto school iTunes.
  • learned to use GarageBand to create and edit the project: trimming mp3s, fading in and out, controlling volume, balancing overall volume.
  • recorded their narrative and edit it to lay it over the edited music tracks. I use H2 Zoom recorder in my classroom. It’s the first generation of the Zoom recorders, but I love using it!

What I’m Learning: The Teacher’s View

Students were free to work on any part of the project during the class times so students needed to manage time well. When they started, it was a usual start: the motivated students started brainstorming, writing down ideas feverishly.  And then there was a group of students who sat around, doing very little. The momentum of this project was definitely set by the “busy” guys.

I was helping students recording their narratives and occasionally reminding students to work. Some students ended up not having much done (they wrote a couple of sentences on GoogleDocs) by the end of the first class. Why were they not being creative? Did they have too much freedom to explore and learn?

So much for that thought.

By the second and third class, I began to see something interesting. One by one, those not-much-producing students, began to show me what they were working on. After each class, these students went home and worked on their projects at home on their laptops. [N.B. Our school allows students to bring their own from home for school use.]  Because they didn’t use the class time, these students worked at home. They edited their narrative and recorded it on their own. Exploration went beyond classroom walls and über cool and creative projects ended up coming from these students.

Another interesting discovery was in students’ reflections. I found so much maturity in their voice in expressing the “whys”. Here are some examples of my students’ reflections:

Music reflects a lot about me because it’s what makes my personality. I listen to music whenever I’m on my computer. I listen to music when I am doing homework because it blocks out all other noises and it helps me to concentrate.
I can’t say music defines me, but I can say I love to listen to music.  It helps me concentrate when I do my homework.
Music means a lot to me because my life would be a lot less happier and nicer without it. I love the feeling you get when your favorite song just came on the radio and that rush of needing to belt out the words along with it! Music helps me gain more energy in the morning- it gets me excited for the day. Music makes the world have more pizazz, and is extremely entertaining.
Music is important to me in many ways. It brings me up when I’m down. It pumps me up and makes me feel like I can do anything.    Music is a must have.

It didn’t matter if the student was a girl or boy. For 98% of my students music mattered more than I had expected [one students did not like to listen to music or owned an iPod. We tweaked the project to something he can relate to. I’ll be honest – we struggled a long time to find this tweaked version, but in the end, the student did a fabulous job talking about the role of music]. I discovered how deeply my students were connected to music. I especially loved the way they expressed their identity tied to stories of family and friends. I was also surprised to hear playlists that consist extreme genres from classical to punk rock.

Technically speaking, students spent a lot of time editing and learning to use either GarageBand or Audacity. They learned a lot by making mistakes, taking chances, and asking questions. I really liked how many students helped other students when a question was being asked. Needless to say, our two rooms were never quiet (except for recording times).

Listen to some tracks from my students:

Moving Forward  ~>  ~>  ~>  ~>  ~>

Students’ finished mp3s were loaded up to iTunes. Using SoundCloud, I got an embeddable player so that I can embed it onto the class Google Sites page. Students listened to each other’s collage and gave constructive feedback. Since they all took a long time make these projects, I also wanted to give them a personalized feedback and assessment. I filled out this form and gave each of my students a feed back. I wrote everything in detail except the final grade and asked each student what they learned from this project. Their responses included how excited they were to learn to use GarageBand to create their project. A few were annoyed at how hard they had to work using the application. Some were so surprised to hear what different musical tastes everyone had. A handful of students recommended that I should start next year’s 8th grade year with this project because they had so much fun.

I learned  so much about my students. I also learned that I need to encourage them to be creative by creating a creative space and time. I’m learning to be patient!

My students ARE passionate about music and life. Now what?

Here are some questions I’m thinking of answering in a future post:

What am I going to do with this discovery now that I know what huge role music has in their life? How can I channel this passion to help them to learn more about music and guitar (all students learn how to play)? What other ways can I connect with them and learn about what I need to teach them?

Stay tuned!

Guitar Video Series 3: Sergio and Odair Assad

While music browsing for my cooking time on the NPR Music App, a picture of the Assad brothers’ picture caught my eye. It isn’t everyday that one comes across a classical guitar duo.

The title of the post on NPR was “Assad Brothers Bring Brazil To Savannah”. NPR posted almost an hour of their concert from the Savannah Music Festival. As I listened to the Brazilian guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad, I was struck by their luscious lyrical melodic lines and robust musicality. Listen to the Parts I & II here.

I thought their personal introduction to their repertoire is just lovely. Artists connecting with their audience this way makes a concert experience more enjoyable because it clears sometimes seriously-stifling, too-formal, classical-concert-air.

The concert program includes music from their homeland, Spain and Argentina. There’s an interesting story behind their last piece, Tahhiyya li Ossoulina. While researching for their ancestry, they found out that they were 25% Lebanese. Celebrating their newly found heritage, Sergio wrote this original piece. It’s a piece that displays beautiful combination of Middle Eastern modes and Brazilian dance styles.

Whatever the repertoire, this musical-duo makes you come and enjoy the music- even making you want to get up and dance!

Since this series is a video series (I could not find NPR’s video of this), but found this YouTube video that has pretty good audio. Here’s Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Suite. Share with me if you have more info on these phenomenal musicians or your favorite recording by them.

Happy listening!