Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Musical Musings

Start the discussion with our new music educator expert

In this first video, Stephanie introduces herself and starts a new conversation on music, seen from a different point of view, with the hope to spur dialogue and discussion. Be sure to post your comments and questions to Stephanie!

Released on October 5, 2016

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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

Well hello there, I am Stephanie. As this is my first video with Virtual Sheet Music, I'd like to take this opportunity to briefly introduce myself and to talk about the aims and objectives of the videos I'll be making and sharing with you.

So firstly, a bit about myself, after a music degree from Oxford University and a post grad from Edmore University, I spent 15 years working in International Education. Now this, what convinced me that I was ultimately my best boss. Who isn't? And I'm now freelance doing a myriad of different things inclusive of running my own online music education company. I'm principally a violinist. Although I only ever use piano in my class teaching for demonstrating concepts and for accompanying students in exams and shows.

I would however love to be Andrew Lloyd Webber. Well actually, that's a bit of a lie because I wouldn't love to be him, so much as I love his reputation as a musical composer. Because yes I confess, I've written my own musical. And whilst I'm desperately waiting for Broadway to call me, hmm, I am currently collaborating with an Italian cabaret artist on my second musical which just happens to be a chamber musical.

Now as a teacher, one of the main observations I've made over the years is that not enough emphasis is placed upon critical thinking in education: whether it be French, Geography, History, whatever and obviously, Music. Teachers are really good at providing information of course. And they generally, though not always I have to say, they generally know their subject well. Yet often the most valuable learning comes when personal analysis and reflection, that is a real mental approach, are at the heart of study. This approach forces the learner to stand outside of himself or herself and honestly face up to the positives and the negatives in learning: an objective self-analysis, if you will. And this in turn creates an internal dialogue, which if encouraged spills into and greatly assists in all areas of life.

Let's face it. Critical thinking whether for music, weight loss, or starting a new career, critical thinking is essential for pushing back from tears. So, the idea behind the videos that I'll be producing is to stimulate this all important critical thinking by encouraging dialogue with myself and others through various musical themes and topics.

Now given my educational background, I'll tend to examine music from this perspective. But please note, adults as well as children are lifelong learners. So my treatment invariably is holistic, and will go beyond just the obvious. My discussions, dare I say it, ramblings and at times provocations, will inevitably spill into other areas. Neither music nor any other subject is an island after all. So hopefully, these topics and themes will inspire you to participate whether this be in proving me wrong, adding a new perspective, opening up greater dialogue, or just stopping by to say hi.

My monthly videos will not only reflect my own musings, observations, and dare I say it, neurosis, but will incorporate your ideas. After all, the best ideas invariably come from a team. So, let's be that team. If you've already got some ideas and observations for me, please do get in touch via Virtual Sheet Music. And above all, let's inspire each other to talk intelligently about music and yes, in certain circles this still happens. So, I'm really looking forward to hearing from you, as I say, through Virtual Music. But if I don't hear from you, I will see you next month. Good bye.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

taufu cici on November 5, 2016 @12:52 pm PST
Hi , thank you very much for your help . I have tried to google the subject but in vain .
taufu cici on November 3, 2016 @10:23 am PST
Hi . can you please tell me the name of the founder of the rules for conducting orchestra i.e how 3/4 is this way or 4/4 this way , who made these rules .
thank you
Stephanie Lewis - host, on November 5, 2016 @6:42 am PST
Hi there. Beyond the conducting I did at university, and then later on in orchestral and choral ensembles, I confess I don't know much about the actual history of conducting beyond what my tried and tested music dictionary tells me i.e. in the 18th century, performances were directed from the keyboard whilst in the early 19th century, the first violinist waved his bow when not playing. The role of the conductor really came to the fore in the Romantic period with the French composer Berlioz being one of the first to use the complete orchestral score. Not much info, I know! So, I've written to a conductor friend of mine with direct links to Adam Fischer in the hope I can get some hard and fast factual data for you. I'll let you know. Cheers, Stephanie
Stephanie Lewis - host, on November 28, 2016 @6:24 am PST
Hi again. Sorry for the delay but, truth be told, I had a few difficulties in tracking down the info you requested. This is all I could manage taken from the New Grove Dictionary of Music, second edition, Volume 6 -

Conducting acquired its present 3 part-meaning - beat/interpretation/administration - in the 19th century.

Tactus, or visible beat, not mentioned until the end of the 15th century - Adam von Fulda 1490 - nothing is said as to how to 'mark' the beat.

Ramis de Poreia 1482 - singers to tap foot, hand or finger.

1532 Tactus described as a steady and even motion of the singer's hand.

16th - 18th century. Pictures show one person leading - often holding a scroll. Use of small stick - baculus - rarely seen. Often choirmaster or precentor would lead, but sometimes the singer/s. This carried well on into the 18th century. By Mozart's time, a distinction was made between 'Takt schlagen' for religious music and 'dirigieren' for instrumental music and opera. Lead from keyboard or first violin but gradually lead violinist more common in 18th century.

Sorry I can't be of more help.


taufu cici on November 28, 2016 @9:27 am PST
Thank you , and hope to see some of your ideas and concepts in a video
can you give me an idea about minimal music , and if there were any more lets say schools other than baroque rococo classical and romantic
all best regards
Stephanie Lewis - host, on November 29, 2016 @12:38 am PST
Hi there. Certainly I can prepare some videos about various styles next year I'm only doing 1 video per month at the mo' & am currently focusing on generic music/education aspects. In the interim though, most of what you're asking can be easily found in Wikipedia...and in about 1 minute! Keep the dialogue coming in and many thanks. Steph
taufu cici on November 1, 2016 @2:54 pm PST
Dear Stephanie ,
I have always heard that Bach wrote math music ...? can you explain that if you believe so...
thank you for loving music
Stephanie Lewis - host, on November 2, 2016 @1:19 am PST
Hi there. Thanks for getting in touch. No, Bach wrote music - period. However, mathematics & indeed every subject intertwines in all aspects of life so there are mathematical elements in Bach's music...but of course he is no exception, rather he's the rule. All music and the arts have mathematical elements, deliberate or at a subconscious level. Maths and logic are an expression of humanity and our arts can't help but incorporate these aspects - to do otherwise would not be human! Thanks for your thought-provoking post. Cheers for now. Steph
Ken Cory on October 9, 2016 @6:57 pm PST
Looking forward to your Musical Musings, Steph. But please accept this advice, offered in a positive spirit: Lose the hair hanging in front of your eyes, lose the blue earrings, and arrange the camera so you're talking straight into it, not down. I can't learn from you if I'm distracted by these things.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 11, 2016 @10:35 am PST
Dear Ken,

I've always thought that the best teachers were the ones that learnt from their students...and your comments, far from taking them the wrong way, have taught me the importance of visual communication in which I'm particularly lacking!.

I've no problem 'losing' the hair and earrings. Re: filming, this is a totally new world for me, also at a technological level, so please be patient. I'll get there.

Regards, Steph
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on October 6, 2016 @11:59 am PST
HI Stephanie, it's kind of difficult to already imagine where your video contributions will delve into. What I would be interested in, is how music is able to carry such powerful emotions. After all, it's just an abstract assembly of some sounds. Yet even the simplest of them carry feelings ...
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 6, 2016 @12:53 pm PST
Hi Paul. Yes, you're right. I suspect my videos will touch on many aspects of music, in part based on the comments and observations of the viewers themselves. Regarding your observation, there's much that's been written on the power of music over the centuries. This, however, is in part dependent on your culture, education, musical experience & open mindedness + function of music. Listen to some Chinese opera or Tibetan chants and I think you'll get my meaning. Will definitely need to cover this - give me time 'cause this is really 'beefy' subject matter - and thanks for taking the time to write. Steph
Yendor * VSM MEMBER * on October 5, 2016 @1:29 pm PST
Hey Stephanie, As players of unfretted stringed instruments do you believe we play in tune more by the way it sounds or by the way it feels (of course we do both but which do you think is more important)
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 6, 2016 @11:33 am PST
Hey there. You know I'm annoyed that I've never actually thought of that question myself!! Anyhow, I can only answer this based on my own experience and reflections, both of mind and body. Over the years one develops 'body memory' through playing and initially the physical the way it feels is dominant. With time, however, the body increasingly becomes regulated by the ears. It is they, the ears, that become dominant and cause quasi instinctive reactions on the performer's body via their perception of pitch. So yes, I would say that the ears are more important but only after a certain mastery of the body has been reached. Does this make sense? And what do you think? Cheers. Steph
Yendor * VSM MEMBER * on October 6, 2016 @1:19 pm PST
Dear Steph, I have to admit that lean heavily on the idea that god pitch more a function of feel than of listening, that the miracle of slow, careful practice careful listening is that we are teaching our bodiesbrain to "remember" on some level below conscious awareness what it FEELS like to play in tune. I've been shocked at times with my own playing how much better something became with just a little slow, careful practice. It has also occurred to me that by the time you put a finger down it's too late! It seems to me that something like an octave shift to a high position on the cello pretty much doesn't involve the ear at all but succeeds by comparing it to all of the other time you nailed it. Then again I could way wrong about what is actually happening. I do like your idea that our bodies become increasingly regulated by our ears over time. Thanks for responding to my first question. I'm excited about your blog. Rodney [edit] or [delete]
Oluwaseun Collins on October 5, 2016 @7:56 am PST
This is indeed a welcome development and kudos to Virtual music.
The first area I would like you to look into is:
What's the best method of teaching for toddlers?
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 6, 2016 @1:21 am PST
Dear Mr Collins, thanks so much for your positive comments. It's greatly appreciated. Whilst at this moment I'm not planning on doing such specific 'nitty gritty' videos - consider the different types of musician that VSM has to cater for and you can begin to understand why - it might be an additional future development worth looking into. I will keep you posted...but if I had to give the top tip regarding toddlers and music education, then it is this based on classes of 25 with 1 assistant - 30mins long - CHANGE TASKS FREQUENTLY. Example:
5 minutes: music/movement marching or dancing
5 minutes: 1 song
10minutes: percussion instrument game longer for setting up
5 minutes: song 2
3 minutes: silent listening lying on floor art music repertoire repeated at every lesson over a 1 month period i.e. developing a listening repertoire
2 minutes: lining up/being with the kids

Hope this helps and keep those suggestions coming in! Cheers. Steph
Akin-Ajayi Oluwaseun Collins on October 8, 2016 @1:28 pm PST
Thanks, really helpful.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 9, 2016 @11:04 am PST
A pleasure.
Mabel Bryant * VSM MEMBER * on October 5, 2016 @7:55 am PST
I am glad that someone like you will be on board. I am oriental and was brought up in Hong Kong. Annually I took the music exam from the Royal academy of England all the way to the 8th level. I am also very fortunately to have found a good piano teacher who was a concert pianist himself in my 40s in Houston,, Texas. Both of my children also have piano lessons all through their life. All three of us have found that music has played a great part in our lives. My teacher has passed away several years ago but what he has taught me had enriched my life immensely. I am in my 70s now and I still play every day for my own enjoyment. Music is the rainbow in my life, uplifts me when I am down and I would be lost without my music.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 6, 2016 @1:11 am PST
Dear Mrs Bryant, thanks so much for getting in touch and sharing bits from your, obviously, very accomplished life! I hope that my videos will, in some way, add to your already extensive knowledge and prompt you to laugh, cry, think, strongly agree or, indeed, disagree. Looking forward to hearing more of your 'shares'! Stephanie
Sandra * VSM MEMBER * on October 5, 2016 @6:52 am PST
Welcome, Stephanie! I am looking forward to your fresh approach to the video sessions on VSM! I learn something every time I watch. I am a "senior" violin student in age, not in school! and would love to know your approach to vibrato. I am struggling with this technique and feel my music would have much more passion and voice if I could master this. I have studied about 10 years so my intonation is good. Also I would love to see shifting exercises into 3rd and 5th positions. Best wishes and I look forward to your future videos. I like your "holistic" approach!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 5, 2016 @9:02 am PST
Hi Sandra and thank your for your comment. I am sure Stephanie will be happy to answer to your kind comment, but for specific questions about the violin, I'd suggest to post them to our violin expert William Fitzpatrick:

Thanks for watching and for participating in the discussion!
Stephanie Lewis - host, on October 6, 2016 @1:05 am PST
Hi Sandra. Thanks for getting in touch and, above all, for your warm wishes! As Fabrizio has mentioned, I'm going to be sticking to more generic aspects of music and music education. Yeah, I like holistic too as it highlights connections. Connections in turn give context and therefore better understanding to whatever we do, music included. Given the confusion around us today, it's certainly an approach that works well for me. Cheers for now. Steph
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