Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Music Lessons Ingredients, part 2

If you are music teacher, get ready for some additional useful tips

In this second video about "Music Lessons Ingredients," Stephanie gives you some new elements for your music teaching. And more is coming!

Released on November 7, 2018

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. I'm Stephanie with Virtual Sheet Music. Following on from last month's video, today, I'll be looking at listening repertoire and its use in the general music class. Before we begin though, I'd like to talk about the notion of themes in education that most of you are probably familiar with. Why? Well, because it is through themes that I'll be organizing my material in the next few months. Now, as today we're talking about repertoire, we'll need themes that permit an intelligent introduction to what's out there listening wise, so any themes used must be selected with serious thought. Please note though that certain themes include, exclude student age groups by definition. So in the case of humor, which as a theme I'll be using today, well, this is something that can be accessed from about the age of eight and nine and upwards. You know, clearly word puns, visual jokes and the like require a certain vocabulary together with life experiences that are literally...simply don't have. They therefore won't get the humor, and so then the musical connection gets lost.

Now, remember at the end of this series of Music Lesson Ingredients, I'll be putting all the puzzle pieces together in a number of lesson programs, which seek to touch all age groups and include a range of themes, so be patient. As I said in my last video, repertoire expands upon communication skills through the analysis and discussion of extracts of chosen pieces. Discussion should be at the heart of repertoire accumulation, specific musical terminology and their definitions such as tempo, dynamics, and to a lesser extent, instrument, instrumental groups can be pretty much well digested by even our smallest students. Though as we go up, the discussion gets richer. Tonality, dissonance, consonants, texture, virtuosity and so on. So, let's give you a concrete example here, Mozart's musical joke. Remember the theme, humor? Now, whereas our older students will begin to understand that Mozart's, dare I say, practically atonal sections of in this work were his way of poking fun at shoddy orchestras in the 18th century, the younger student may be less able to recognize and articulate said musical feature, can at least recognize the exaggerated repetition that this piece uses.

Another example would be the symphonic scherzo, Italian, for joke, of course, say from Beethoven's passed around. Aside from defining the symphony and looking briefly at the orchestra, anyone can appreciate the need for variety. So, the insertion of scherzo by composers in a symphonic structure becomes clearly logical, and from there, without laboring the point, you can start to investigate the typical four movement structure of the symphony. Now, keep it simple, fast, slow dance-like, fastest, absolutely fine. And then from there, the contrast that emerged, maybe with some listening games recognizing different movements from various symphonies to conclude. Repertoire, aye, a few different symphonies, therefore is covered discursively, but in a dynamic and interactive way.

Another slant, maybe for the slightly older and old student is humor treating romanticism. You can't, of course, get better than the pianist Victor Borge. His Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody leaves one in no doubt about the characteristics of romantic music, you know, the usual contrast of dynamics and mood, range, textures, articulation, etc, you know, together with that romantic favorite virtuosity? So, short class discussion would certainly revise technical language through specific musical analysis and obviously recognition of the musical stunner, but it would be done in an intelligently amusing way.

Victor Borge - Hungarian Rhapsody #2

Finally, my all-time favorite and treated in one of my previous Virtual Sheet Music videos entitled "A Piece of Cake," deals with practice and how playing look so easy, and the question, "Why wasn't I born a musical genius?" It is a hysterical watch. But underlying all this is a far more serious reminder that without practice and dedication, you get absolutely nowhere. Now, this is very useful for the older student, and discussion which should be followed up with a written esoteric task which requires honest critical thinking regarding said student's approach to practice, organization, practice methods and so on.

So, whether looking at a specific piece, doing listening work or games, or just simply watching a clip, musical concepts and terminology should be actively used and developed through discussion. In effect, language and musical analysis grow out of one another. Intelligent themes as regards repertoire clearly provides students a readily understandable context that considerably changes the way they perceive music. Suddenly, classroom works presented are no longer necessarily an affront to students' own preferred listening. They are a logical, context-based extension to learning and one that offers considerable interest within the topic. It might not change personal taste, and that in any case is not the objective, but it does open up other worlds and in an interesting way too.

And it is interest, not fun, that is a key to successful music, teaching, and learning. Indeed I'd say, the key to successful teaching and learning, period. Now, remember that this aspect of listening discussion needs to be enriched with performance, composition, and theory. Next month, I will be dealing with performance, again, through the theme of humor. But by January, February of next year, I'll be able to leave you some teaching programs for various age groups which offer a range of themes. Please also feel free to write in with suggestions of themes and I'll do my best to rise to the challenge. And, of course, please write in anyway and contribute to what I've been talking about today with ideas of your own, anecdotes, and anything else you'd like to share. Until the next time, bye.
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