Category Archives: Lesson Support Links

Showcase Rehearsal No. 3

Esteemed Pupils,

You may already have discovered that schools are to remain closed to pupils until Monday 6 December. Sadly, this means that our East Lothian Guitar Ensemble rehearsal, scheduled for Friday, will not be able to go ahead. However, rest assured that parts for our 3rd piece will be distributed to you on Tue 7th, Wed 8th & Thu 9th respectively. Play-along midi files for this mystery piece will be posted along with those already there for two pieces already underway.

The next scheduled Showcase rehearsal is Friday 21 Jan. See Dates For Your Diary for the complete list.

Thanks for your hard work and savoir faire, so far. Enjoy the snow while it lasts.

photo by Lesley Pearson

Ten Word Wiki

If brevity be the soul of wit then what better place than Ten Word Wiki (10WW) to flex the necessary muscles. Concepts feature large in SQA Music exams and this site could serve as an compliment to the excellent LTS concepts pages.

I feel that pupils would learn as much (and probably more) from coining definitions as opposed simply to consulting them.

To get the ball rolling, here is my first contribution: sequence


Having been interested at first mention of WolframAlpha, I decided to spend some time on it to see what it’s all about. The site is not short of explanatory material – ranging from an explanation of its goals, through examples to a video demonstrating what’s possible.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the six major towns of East Lothian featured and decided to find out a little more about population etc. (I imagine that the info might have come from the 2001 census and, in some cases more than others, might be qutie out of date by now). Why not see if you can predict the populations of these towns – or rank them in order before clicking the links? Dunbar; North Berwick; Haddington; Tranent; Musselburgh; Prestonpans

I was also curious about the population of towns which feed into larger secondary schools e.g. East Linton; Longniddry and couldn’t help wondering if all the schools were being located from scratch now, if Cockenzie/Port Seton would merit its own school. The population, at nearly 6,000, must rival that of larger towns at the time schools were establishing themselves.

Then, simply to test-drive Wolfram Alpha, I simply entered random terms in the search box:

a chemical element e.g. Boron; a chemical compound e.g. NaCl (Sodium Chloride); ozone

Pi; a calculation e.g. 7.39 + 17.5%; 10 Factorial aka 10!

today’s date; my date of birth (it seems I’ve been alive for 18,159 days); a random year – 1939

the note Middle C; the interval of the perfect 5th; the major 7th chord; C diminished chord; the term Hertz; human hearing range; speed of sound; speed of light;

the sum of £21.34 which, without asking, was converted into other currencies

a random temperature e.g. 37 degrees C, which was converted into more scales than I knew existed

a random length e.g. 100m; Sun distance Earth; Moon distance Earth; volume of sea;

and finally a random word – sound, which is explored in all its uses – the etymology and first recorded use of words are given – very much like another favourite of mine – etymonline

The results of searches can be saved as pdfs – which must be handy for many classes.

Why not try it out?

Candid Camera

I remember with some fondness my old Amstrad PCW and how it obliquely encouraged me to generate a huge body of work in few episodes. This was due to having to load the operating system from a floppy disc and then each individual programme – the loading of one necessitating the disappearance of the last. So, once set up, the temptation was to bash on.

Such was the feeling yesterday when I had hoped to make a start on recording videos of ensemble parts for this year’s Showcase Concert repertoire. I thought I’d do two or three, call it a day and set aside some time later. However, once the camera was set up, and the school nearly empty, I found myself repeatedly saying “just one more” and pretty soon all 14 were finished. It was my ambition to do each one in “one take” and I stopped only three times – once when the phone rang and twice when the weekly fire bell test took place. Miraculously, all three events conspired to take place in the closing bars of largely error-free takes – thanks guys!

The funny thing was the set up. I asked a 6th year pupil to line up the Flip Video so that the frame would be pretty much filled with the fretboad – since fingering and articulation were the main points of interest. Somehow, I imagined that my head would be out of shot, but this was not true – and I didn’t ask. Consequently, the videos have the nature of someone being filmed unawares. I have to confess that I look quite bored throughout the process, but nothing could be further from the truth – it’s simply a mix of concentration and the paradoxical endeavour to remain relaxed under pressure, in order to avoid re-takes. I must remember this the next time I suspect a pupil of less than 100% engagement. Techies might notice that the music is (sometimes) being read, in Sibelius, from a laptop screen, which refreshes only at the very end of a page/section. This doesn’t really add to the chances of a relaxed performance as you can’t look ahead – but what’s life without a little challenge now and again 🙂

The films, which are all embedded in a new Video page, are pretty much a temporary affair – hence the lack of subtle editing. The East Lothian Showcase Concert, in which these pieces are to be performed, takes place in The Brunton Hall on Friday 27th Mar at 7:30. After that date there will be little use for the videos – unless any other similar ensemble would like to play the arrangements.