The Exponential Musician in Malvern, PA
Last week's "Exponential Musician" workshop in Malvern, PA for the Main Line Music Teachers Association was an absolute blast! There's nothing quite like being in a room full of participants and seeing enthusiastic light bulbs glow as folks start to realize the amazing possibilities that technology can offer to enhance the pedagogy, performance, and practice of music!
Here are some pictures from the workshop, graciously taken by Diane Bull (thanks Diane!):
Here's a shot of the setup as it was being put together. From L to R: Shure telescoping mic stand, projector screen, Sanyo theater projector (which didn't end up being used, as i forgot to bring the VGA cables! DOH!), my backup HP mini projector (whew), Bose L1 Cylindrical Loudspeaker, piano, Sager Laptop on a Laptop Tripod, HP Laptop on piano, Blue Snowball USB mic (connected to the Sager, which served as the main presentation computer)
Here's a closeup of the setup above, and the view from the audience as i put the finishing touches together below:
The activity room we were in had beautiful windows and a scenic view of the Malvern countryside!
I used a MindMap in presentation mode, which allowed me to jump between topics and hyperlink files such as PowerPoint slideshows, pictures, video clips, and programs. It's nice not to be stuck in a linear presentation format! BTW, that's a brand new AirTurn polo shirt i'm wearing ;)
One of the highlights of the workshop was giving live lesson demonstrations using various tools like the open source audio recorder/editor Audacity, as well as MusicReader to view and project the music score and digital ink annotations in realtime. Here's a picture of me working with student Mary Mox on the "Reverie" by Debussy, using Audacity to visualize the audio recorded via the Blue Snowball USB microphone into the computer. By learning to recognize peaks and dynamic shapes in audio wave files, it was amazing to see how much faster Mary was able to correct herself to achieve a particular expressive effect!
Here i demonstrate what we're looking for, recording myself on a separate track to compare with the other "takes". Again, the visual feedback provides a powerful pedagogical tool to help students take on what i call the "3rd perspective" - in other words, being able to objectively hear what the audience hears from a performance without any physical distractions. While we might "feel" a certain dynamic effect, such as a crescendo by tensing up muscles and moving our body in such a way, it can be surprising to learn how little of that translates into what is actually heard by the audience - or, in this case, the microphone.
Another tool used was my netbook's webcam, to demonstrate how easy it is to capture quick videos at different angles, specifically to help students see their own posture and physical affectations that might be having an effect on their playing. Again, it's one thing to see it from your own point of view seated at the piano (or looking into the mirror for another instrumentalist), but it's another thing entirely to view yourself from angles that can really reveal what your hands, arms and shoulders are doing.
Working with another student, Becky Hood, on Debussy's "Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum" from his "Children's Corner" suite. The goal is to help students use technological tools to become their own teachers by giving them multi-sensory ways to hear and see what's going on in their performance.
Here's another student, Miranda Liu, as we work on a Bach Invention (you can see the score being projected on the screen behind her, using MusicReader). In this instance, we saw how using digital music readers can free up students and teachers from the limitations of ink and paper, particularly when it comes to dynamically annotating scores. With traditional ink and paper, there is an inherent fear of mistakes; what i mean by this is that you are limited to using erasable pencils which aren't always as visually vivid to be truly useful, and using color inks or markers requires a level of "perfection" in the annotation, since you can't erase ink. \
With digital ink, there is no fear of putting the wrong color or marking down, as all annotations are non-destructive. It's as easy to erase as it is to mark, so that there is more encouragement to play in the musical "sandbox", as it were - coloring the motif in the right hand in red, perhaps, then trying to color the motif in the left hand in blue. Made a mistake and colored the wrong notes? No problem with a digital score! When mistakes aren't fear-inducing but transformed into valuable learning tools, students can be encouraged to be more exploratory and experimental in their study of the score.
We had a wonderful turnout and a yummy lunch afterwards, with several teachers asking for another workshop soon (many of them expressing a particular interest in exploring Audacity more).
As an added bonus, i gave the participants of the workshop a special link to a page on the AirTurn website where they could access all of my MindMap notes, links and files after filling out a brief survey and signing up for our monthly newsletter, all for free!
Next stop on the Exponential Musician Workshop tour: Boulder, Colorado on April 10! Stay tuned for details!No Trackbacks |