TI:ME Free Online Symposium is Happening NOW

TI:ME Members and non-members alike can logon to check out our free Symposium on Music Tech Pedagogy that is happening right now.  I’ll be speaking at 3:00pm EDT about the types of projects I like to teach and the methods I use to teach composition to kids with little or no music experience.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of this – it’s an honor to be in such great company.  A quick rundown of the participants today:

Jay Dorfman – TI:ME’s national president and all around great guy from Boston U.

Mike Medvinsky – a former electrical engineer turned music teacher, who has in middle school kids making some cool things and really maker-faire kind of stuff

Bill Bauer – Bill used to serve on the Ohio TI:ME board before moving to sunny FL.  He’s one of the smartest and most earnest people in the field, and his research into music learning methods in the digital age are second to none.

The other two speakers, Chris and Adam, I don’t know as well but I wouldn’t be surprised if their accomplishments are right up there with the others.  Be sure to log on today to check out what’s going on right now in our field.

A Rubric for Project-Based Music Classes

As part of my efforts to refine my methods for grading and giving feedback on high school music tech projects, I’ve decided to use the opportunity to make a standardized rubric for my projects.  In many ways, this document is tuned to feed data into my SLO’s for the year as well.

The main features of the rubric:

  • A nominal self-evaluation, simply to provide some context for the finished product
  • An area for actual feedback (notes) at the bottom
  • Scoring “boxes” are tuned to allow most students to fall within the “emerging mastery” category.  Important if the SLO is written to require movement to a new box by semester’s end
  • Max score is possible in Box 3 and 4, giving credit for both accelerated students and those clearly on track
  • Low end of rubric is flexible to not totally kill the grades of lower achieving students
  • Score is out of 30, balanced between technical issues and aesthetic issues

I set aside a day to present projects, during which I use the sheet to mark the grades.  It usually works out to one class period as long as we keep the projects playing.

I haven’t used this yet, but it’s the best representation of how I evaluate my students’ projects.  Let me know what you think of it!

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Audio to MIDI in Ableton Live 9 vs. Melodyne

Oliver Chesler has an interesting look at the Audio to MIDI feature in Live 9.  He compares it to Melodyne, actually:

Whatever you think of the results as much as I love Melodyne and use it it’s not a feature built into Live therefor one step away from instant. I also don’t think you can Audio to Drums like you can in Live. The real killer feature for Audio to Midi is my own whistling or humming to create parts and ideas.

Of course, it can’t affect the audio signal with the MIDI analysis like Melodyne can, so it seems more of a songwriting tool to me.  Either way, he made a cool video demonstrating the difference between the two:

Via Wire to the Ear.

▶ I made a Drum’N’Bass song

In my advanced Music Tech course, I like to make the projects along with the students so we can have a collaborative learning experience. Every time I re-do a project with these kids I end up learning something new and it’s fun to share it with them – students can really tell when you’re genuinely excited about something new, and this type of teacher energy is to me much more authentic than giving the same canned inspirational speech each go around.

Anyway, the main things we explored were sampling breaks and creating the Reese bass instrument.

I called it “Peanut Butter Cup” due to the abuse of the Reese bass sound. I’d love to hear some feedback on how to make it better:

Here’s what my tracks and clips looked like in session view:

 

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In outline form, here’s what’s going on:

  1. Drum Group
    1. “2 Audio” – these are sampled funk breaks
    2. “02 Funky D” – a “sliced to MIDI” version of the funky drummer, for playing on the Launchpad
    3. “Drum Rack” – some stronger/layered snare and bass on a drum rack.
  2. Synths Group
    1. “Reese Bass” – an Operator instrument imitating the classic detuned saw waves of “Terrorist” by Master Reese.
    2. “133989_2” – A Simpler containing an air raid siren from freesound.org
    3. “VES2 Synt” – A Simpler containing a canned sample from some CD I had
  3. SFX Group
    1. Various canned uplifters, impacts and a Jamaican guy because it’s DnB

 

 

“Instrumachines”

Great new term for the tools used by DJ’s who have been working very hard to add real-time performing to their performances.

But pushing a button 30 times in 30 minutes versus pushing it 30,000 times in 30 minutes, presents an order-of-magnitude difference that you can feel in your bones. It’s the difference between playing a piano, and playing a CD.

via Bryan Kim’s excellent music tech blog.

▶ The end of the symphony orchestra.

Must-read piece by Michelle Jones on the biggest problem in music ed. today.

Universities are slow to change. The bureaucrats and academians (yes, I made up this word) are not as open-minded as one would think. They want to protect their jobs more than they care about the students that merely pass through their halls. It’s self-preservation for them. By creating more graduates, they increase their numbers and tenure. Since only a tiny minority of the music school graduates land the coveted symphony jobs, those that don’t usually end up doing a career not in their chosen field, or end up teaching themselves. Universities expand to meet the demands of the higher population of students going to college, and they expand the departments where people want to major. Since most universities only want professors who have masters or doctoral degrees, those who have these credentials get the jobs. Those who usually have these credentials also were a product of the same university system where the goal is to get and keep their job. Many of the university professors that I have encountered throughout the past twenty-plus years have not had to create their own businesses and make a living as freelance musicians. They have had the regular job of teaching as their “fall-back” and have not been forced to make the same decisions that today’s students face.

She also includes a handy list of suggestions that will surely (but not hopefully) fall on deaf ears. Among my obvious favorites on the list:

6. All music students should learn about recording arts. I’m not asking that each musician learn every detail of a mixing board, but rather to understand the specific microphone placement and recording of their chosen instrument(s). Most musicians will have some experience with recording during their lifetime, especially if they are submitting a recorded audition for a symphony orchestra.

7. In addition to learning about recording arts, all music students should learn how to play to a click track/pre-recorded track. This is especially helpful to have some experience with this, as many of the jobs that require a symphony are film and television studios.

8. All music students should learn how to amplify their instruments electronically. They should learn the difference between pickups and microphones, wired and wireless, amps and speakers, direct-input boxes and pre-amps, etc. More and more of today’s jobs include specific amplification of instruments for live settings and large venues.

How long before our generation is allowed into the universities to start making these important changes? Five years? Ten years? Will we have much of a classical music industry by then?