Sibelius 7

Staff and students currently scaling the steep learning curve from Sibelius 6 to 7 may find some cheer in the wealth of YouTube tutorials in existence. A simple search revealed the following:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sibelius+7+tutorial&oq=Sibelius+7+tut&gs_l=youtube.1.0.0l6j0i5.4216.6353.0.8126.4.4.0.0.0.0.123.410.2j2.4.0…0.0…1ac.1.n0PwzZ7mIII

 

Here is the first one on that list:

Sound Editing for Oral Historians

The second project in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was to put together a short course, explaining the basics of sound editing so that local, oral historians – using the free program, Audacity, could edit and present their work. Of course this is equally applicable to music.

Here it is…

Sound Editing in Audacity for Oral Historians

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

In October 2011 I applied to participate in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Under the mantle of Creative Learning Networks, the idea was to enhance creative learning in the (public sector) workplace – school, community etc. One spin-off would be that silos who have neither time not opportunity to communicate would have reason to come together, in the interest of learning. This very much appealed to my cross-curricular mind-set.

Under the leadership of Ruthanne Baxter – then Arts Education Officer and Manager for Creative Learning Network in East Lothian – I was paired with Caroline Mathers at the John Gray Centre in Haddington, soon to be moving into its new premises in Lodge Street. Various ideas were discussed and two projects were agreed:

  1. a short series of videos where working composers would give tips to pupils to help with the composing/arranging component of the SQA Music courses
  2. an online course in the basics of sound editing – using the free program, Audacity and aimed at oral historians

The latter idea seemed especially fitting for two reasons:

  1. the John Gray Centre is, among other things, a museum devoted to local history and community
  2. this seemed, to me, to fit the cross-sector brief

Five composers were initially scheduled to be involved in the video interviews but, due to various commitments, two were unable to take part. Nevertheless, I feel that the three videos we have will be invaluable to students of composition.

I shall post each of the two outcomes individually.

The Unanswered Question

Can you recall a sea-change in your thinking taking place after a book, documentary, film, argument talk, lecture? I’ve written here before on Leonard Bernstein’s Norton Lectures, on music and linguistics, The Unanswered Question, and the effect they had on my musical thinking. All six lectures are now on YouTube.

One thing I learned much later was that Bernstein had memorised the scripts! If you have several hours to spare, not necessarily all in the same day, then I can’t recommend them highly enough:

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Conference 1

I recently experienced four days which I would have to sum up as amongst the most stimulating but toughest days I can recall. They were spent at a conference (organised by the Mariani Foundation and hosted by Edinburgh University – specifically Katie Overy of the IMHSD) entitled: The Neurosciences and Music: Learning & Memory

 Stimulating for the following reasons: 

  • dedicated, uninterrupted time to devote to an area of fascination which often only pops up intermittently – namely the intersection of music, language, memory, learning, science (of various sorts)
  • the world’s leading thinkers – many of whose names I had already come across – were presenting recent research
  • the questions/comments often added another dimension to the talks – I noted that resonant, thought-provoking questions were equally likely from delegates in identical or contrasting fields to the speaker

 Tough for the following reasons: 

  • although I am now very interested in science, I do not have a scientific background – my last formal contact was failing Higher Chemistry and Physics in 1977
  • speed – all speakers were keen to run to time and presentations were necessarily quick – this meant that slides containing acronyms, data, graphs, brain scans etc. seemed to be racing by*
  • concentration – not my own (although this was no doubt challenged) but more the concentration of 18 hours of listening and a further 6 hours of poster viewing/chat to authors over four days was quite dense 

I would equate the content of those four days with at least a year’s reading, TV/radio documentaries, on-line exploration. For that reason, I was glad to have my Zoom H2 mp3 recorder with me and intend to re-visit many of the talks in order to write things up over time. Until then, though, here is an outline of content to give some broad overview of the content. 

*One of the delegates seated next to me, using an iPad, switched seamlessly between – typing, photographing, videoing. That’s the way to go! Other devices are available :-)

Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning & Memory

 DAY 1  – Thu 9 June

 

  Registration

 “Working with Infants and Children”

 Workshop 1Experimental Methods  – 4 x 30 minute presentations

 Workshop 2 – Social / Real World Methods – 4 x 20 minute presentations

 Day 2 – Fri 10 June

 

 Keynote lecture - Human memory – 45 minutes

Symposium IMechanisms of Rhythm and Meter Learning over the Life Span – 3 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 2Impact of Musical Experience on Cerebral Language Processing – 4 x 30 minute presentations

Symposium 3Cultural Neuroscience of Music – 6 x 20 minute presentations

Poster session I – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 

Day 3 – Saturday 11 June


Symposium 4 - Memory and Learning in Music Performance 5 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 5Mind and Brain in Musical Imagery – 5 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 6 - Plasticity and Malplasticity in Health and Disease – 5 x 20 minute presentations

Poster session II – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 

Day 4 – Sunday 12 June

Symposium 7The Role of Music in Stroke Rehabilitation: neural mechanisms and therapeutic techniques – 6 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 8Music: A Window into the World of Autism – 4 x 25 minute presentations

Symposium 9Learning and Memory in Musical disorders – 4 x 25 minute presentations

Edinburgh International Film Festival previews – neuroscience is a theme this year – 15 min presentation

Conclusions and thanks.

Poster session III – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 18 hours of talks – 6 hours of poster sessions

45 Speakers

300+ delegates

It never rains but it pours…

… I hate that expression – but anyway.

Tomorrow sees the Neuromusic IV conference kick off. I’ve been looking forward to this for ages. I intend to write up (m)any interesting things when it’s over (it runs till Sunday). Fittingly the conference closes with a concert and jazz session, at which I have offered to play what has become one of my favourite tunes (see video below).

On Saturday evening, I’ll be taking time out for a much loved musical experience – a Calton Consort concert (what a poet!) Had that not been on, I’d have gone along to this Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble event. I’ve just been listening to some audio from previous events.

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The Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning and Memory

Today I received formal acknowledgement of enrolment in a conference entitled: The Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning and Memory,

Organised by the Fondazione Mariani in conjunction with Edinburgh University’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, the conference will take place in Edinburgh from 9 – 12 June. As part of what I see as payback for the investment in my attendance there, I intend to post write-ups of relevant content, for the benefit of pupils, colleagues and other interested parties.

Some of the highlights of the conference include:

Impact of musical experience on cerebral language processing – Mathias Oechslin (Chair), Geneva, Switzerland

Why would musical training benefit language functions? A neurobiological perspective? – Aniruddh Patel, San Diego, USA

Memory and learning in music performance – Caroline Palmer and Peter Pfordresher (Chairs)

Keynote lecture - Human memory – Alan Baddeley, York, UK

The functional architecture of Working Memory for tones and phonemes in non-musicians and musicians with and without absolute pitch – Stefan Koelsch, Berlin, Germany

Learning and memory in musical disorders – Psyche Loui and Isabelle Peretz (Chairs)

Mindset Matters

Yesterday I attended a CDP event entitled Mindset Matters. The overarching these was the difference between fixed and growth mindsets, and the effect of each on pupils’ learning. Presented by Derek Goldman of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being, the session alternated tasks, small and whole group discussions and questionnaires designed to help us arrive at our own feelings about confidence and optimism.
The first task was to discuss in pairs the following three questions:
  • What is confidence? (being an incurable etymologist, I knew I’d end up here later)
  • What does it look like?
  • What factors can become obstacles to confidence?
Before long, we realised that the issue is not a straightforward one. Many of us initially summoned up images of extrovert people in action e.g. public speaking or on-stage performance. But what of quiet confidence? There are many who are confident in their abilities but less happy about broadcasting this assurance. The idea that confidence, like fitness, is contextual emerged. We may feel supremely confident in some areas but extremely reticent, even pessimistic about our chances of success in others. As to the appearance of confidence, the ability to look people in the eye was mentioned, along with being able to hold to a minority opinion/belief. Factors cited as likely to be an obstacle to confidence included  peer pressure, adverse criticism etc. Several in the room could recall clearly adverse criticism from their own school days which had resulted in a lasting belief that a given subject or skill lay permanently beyond their grasp.
Discussions of confidence and optimism led naturally to the topic of resilience – the inclination to strive for something despite setbacks. This can be a sensitive area. Belief that bouncing back from failure is possible is unlikely to develop without experience of failure. But – how to afford experiences of failure without incurring damage?
The discussions soon turned to fixed vs growth mindsets, much of this emanating from the work of Standford psychologist, Carol Dweck. The diagram here will give you more of an idea about the ingredients and outcomes of these differing mindsets. One of the most important areas in school life which can affect mindset is summed up by Dweck as person vs process praise or criticism.
Very much like confidence, mindset is not a constant across the whole life of an individual. We may regard some abilities (or deficits) as fixed while retaining more optimism about improvement in other areas.
One area we were asked to consider was our own feelings of confidence in our workplace. For some this is easier to pin down that others but the idea was to dwell upon the place and activities which occupy the largest part of the most standard days. We were asked to score ourselves on three A s:
  • Affiliation – do we feel included in the organisation – that our opinions matter?
  • Agency – how do we rate our own success at the skills required in our job?
  • Autonomy – what level of choice do we have in what’s to be done and how?
Personal nuances are often eclipsed in large discussions and there were a few things I would have liked to define a little more:
  • the difference between a challenge and  things which are merely challenging, which can often amount to little more than repeated and pointless annoyance
  • autonomy – like any freedom, this comes with responsibility. In my own work, I enjoy a massive amount of autonomy, a good example of which can be seen in the running of four guitar ensembles: choice of repertoire; when it should be begun; how it should be presented; how much time to spend on each item; who should play which part. However, if any performance were to come unstuck, I would be entirely responsible for this.
That said, I scored myself a mean of 9/10 in the three A s.
Follow-up was very generous. In addition to being directed to the Centre for Confidence and Well-being and Brainology websites, we were each given two books, which I look forward to exploring:
In the evaluation, I was very positive but felt that questions about how this might change my practice would require some reflection – of which I hope this short summary forms a small part.

First Day Back – First Aid

I’ve always believed it necessary remain a pupil if you hope to be a good teacher and the chance to be a pupil was offered today in the form of an excellent First Aid course.  Bobby Hall
of Hall First Aid Training, took 15 instrumental instructors through a variety of emergency first aid procedures in The Supper Room of The Brunton Hall.  Not only a highly experienced practitioner, Bobby struck me as a natural teacher.  The course was very hands-on and we were led to reflect on practical issues through intelligent and entertaining questioning.  Being a lover of language (and, if I’m honest, a tireless pedant) I was very taken with the precision of the language required for this subject, which strikes me as somewhere between a science and an art.
Another feature which impressed me was the gentle way in which some serious points were conveyed – particularly that we should not be crippled by remorse if an intervention does not result in the saving of a life.  It’s surely better to have done one’s best for a fellow human being than to have been helpless spectator, condemned forever to wondering “what if…?”
While I’m banging on about beliefs, let me restate how resonant I find the idea (which I came across in Clive JamesVisions Before Midnight) that the situations which benefit most from humour are serious ones.  You can see from the snaps below that we really enjoyed the day:
While chatting with Bobby at the end of the course, I asked him if there were YouTube resources worth visiting to refresh our bandaging skills.  He pointed out the problem that much of the material is from the USA where approaches and techniques differ from those here.  I suggested that he could upload some films on his own site. He wasn’t for biting but I hope that he might reconsider.  I’d be more than willing to help out with filming. For one thing, it would be a form of revision in itself.

Until then, though, we can make use of the book with which we were all presented at the end of the course:

Rock Guitar in 11 Dimensions (review)

On Saturday I attended an excellent event in the Edinburgh International Science Festival:  Rock Guitar in 11 Dimensions, presented by Dr. Mark Lewney:

This was science presentation at its best: great guitar playing; comedy; conjuring; audience participation; information presented in a stimulating way; enthusiastic response in the Q&A; the feeling that science is about you, your life, the universe in which you live and, most excitingly of all, the idea that some of the mysteries of the universe could be solved within our lifetime (well, to be fair, I think he was addressing the many younger members of the audience..). On that note, I was pleased to see a pupil there, with his dad, and to discover that he had already been at another event in the festival.

Starting with a very clear explanation of the world of sound, vibrations, acoustics, amplification etc., Dr. Lewney’s talk went on to explore: dimensions; spacetime; the origins and future of the universe and string theory. Rather than describe content here, let me direct you to Dr. Lewney’s entertaining and informative YouTube videos all of which, I feel, are tailored made for the pupil who feels all learning to be connected:

Highlights of a similar talk in Japan:
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The Physics of Rock Guitar:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/vPNPcyWSuzo?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Cool Acoustics Part 1:
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Cool Acoustics Part 2:
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Cool Acoustics Part 3:
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Dr. Lewley’s lovely Ibanez guitar

had been airbrushed by Jim Fogarty. It features pictures and equations of Albert Einstein and Max Planck which you can see close up here.
This festival, I feel, is one of Edinburgh’s best – and possibly underestimated – events. It is also the greenest, in terms of booking: one visit online; one e-ticket number entered into my phone’s notepad; no printed matter!
For the record, I have been to two other events: The Mind is Somewhere North of the Neck and Seven Deadly Sins and
have tickets for two further events: Because God Made It That Way – Paul Dirac and the Religion of Mathematical Beauty in Fundamental Physics and The New Intelligence: Working Memory.