Sunday, November 28, 2010

Math and Music

When I tell other adults that I teach both math and music I often hear, "Oh, those two subjects together well," or, "They have a lot in common."

My question, to all of my non-blog-following, passing-by readers, is what does math and music have in common?

I have some answers for myself, but I want to hear your answers. I want to hear how you might connect the two subjects for middle school aged kids with no background in music (or math...?). How can they organically be connected? How can we discover the connections, instead of showing or telling the connections? Are there any pure connections? Please share discuss.
I thought this amazing man (above) could help give us influence to draw upon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Curriculum

In my undergrad studies, we had a project to make a music curriculum. We used the MENC national standards as our guide and it seemed easy. However, here I am in my third year teaching at a place where I get to make the curriculum. This might be my biggest challenge (for many reasons beyond just picking what to teach, due to the cultural views/"rules").

I have been somewhat pleased with my 6th grade curriculum. I only see my students twice a week, for about 10 weeks. There is no real music program (band, choir, orchestra) at the school. I am in charge of the middle school "band." Its members include one piano player and one drummer. 50% of them take lessons outside of school. I see them twice a week for about 15 minutes each day.

I think it is so important to build the student's listening skills. Most of my lessons focus on developing their ears and creating patient listeners.

6th grade music: 1. Instrument families 2. Overview of Ensembles (orchestra, band, big bang, jazz combos) 3. Create their own "new" instrument 4. group compositions with their created instruments.
The students just performed their group compositions this week. This project reminds me of how music is so natural. People want to play music; they want to make music, but our culture has taught us that being into something other than pop music is "dorky" or "for old people." It also reminds me of how little my students know about music and how I might be failing them as a music teacher (or maybe it is the system?).

7th Grade: Text Painting, "Pictures at an Exhibition," and World-Drumming
8th Grade: Using Tableau to listen/explore Strauss' "Don Quixote," and their choice: a. world drumming, Musical Language, or Piano/Composer unit. 
Each grade level also has a "listening journal."

If you have any comments or suggestions to help with the curriculum please share!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keeping things clear

I am in no way a, "writer." I have always been a poor writer, so, this is my formal apology for poorly written entries from here on.

Why am I creating a blog? I am in my third year of teaching middle school and I am at a crossroads in my development as a teacher. I was hoping I could share ideas and get advice from fellow educators. To give credit where credit is due, Dan Meyer has been a huge influence on my philosophy of teaching, as of late. His blog with a few others, have convinced me to start my own blog.

My first love was math. I was strong at the subject and found the logic so beautiful. However, I started playing the trumpet in the fourth grade. It took me about 10 years to find out that music was my true love. I switched from a math ed major to music ed my sophomore year of undergrad. I went on to to earn a grad- assistantship. I was teaching freshmen music theory and some trumpet lesson, while earning my degree in music performance.

As stated above, I am in my third year of teaching middle school. I work at a private school and teach both math and music.  Most of my students (and parents) do not see a need for music and they despise math. That has been my challenge. More on this later.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Sorry for the boring first post, but I felt the need to get the introduction out of the way. I will continue with future posts about classroom techniques, troubles, questions, lessons, and random thoughts.

Hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!