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:

Morten Faerestrand

I was pleased to receive a Youtube friend request from a great jazz guitarist and teacher – Morten Faerestrand. In addition to great videos – nice sound good film quality – there is the option to sign up for TABS for each of the lessons – all of it FREE.

You can find Morten’s site here.

In the meantime, here are a couple of samples: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/7u3QL8RroO0?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/mkpY2WahsQ8?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

East Lothian Showcase Concert 2011

Many thanks to all who participated in the East Lothian Showcase Concert last night in Edinburgh’s Queens Hall. The pupils really enjoyed the venue and the performance. Thanks to James Leslie for the use of his video-camera tripod and to Don Ledingham for agreeing to operate the video camera:

Rondo:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tz9xJdYeQg8?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Birdland:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/oB8muigtSaU?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Bohemian Rhapsody

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/w0CSGhuSWEo?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Thanks to David Gilmour for making the audio recordings featured below. Perhaps pupils – especially those for whom this was the final Showcase – would like to download these mp3s as an iPod memento.

Rondo Birdland Bohemian Rhapsody

Many thanks, also, to Julia Wilson of NBHS who supplied the group with 20 clip-on tuners. Holding the tuning of 34 guitars  (204 strings) under the glare of stage lights is a nightmare and these were a great help.

Thanks, finally, to David Ryan (S6 @ Knox Academy) for agreeing to lead the group. You’ll see this particularly in Bohemian Rhapsody, where a nod helps the group navigate some severe changes of tempo and time signature.

Well done to all involved.

p.s. bereft of software to divide the original video into three separate ones, I downloaded some nifty, free software here.

Ideas are one thing and what happens another (John Cage 1912-92)

I must be getting younger and here’s what draws me to this unlikely conclusion. Have you ever had the experience where, relating an event and estimating its vintage, you discover that it took place, say, eleven years ago and not five? Does the tempo of life’s passing seem to hit home at such moments? Well, this morning I had the opposite experience. I heard that today marks the five-year anniversary of the official launch of YouTube – the Beta version having emerged some seven months earlier. I couldn’t believe it! Youtube – the third most visited website, after Google and Facebook – seems to have been part of my life for longer than I can remember. I can recall who first told me about Google and Facebook, but I don’t recall being led to YouTube – it just seemed always to be there.

What better way to mark this occasion than to stumble upon (if our networked world still permits such electronic happenstance) a video of the recording of a version of John Cage‘s 4′ 33′ by Cage Against The Machine (CATM). I’ll let The Guardian explain the provenance.

This much misunderstood and maligned piece is thought to be about silence – and only that. However, Cage’s intention was to allow listeners the time and space to notice and enjoy life’s everyday sounds, which we often take for granted, undervalue and ignore.

This film has some nice touches: introductory remarks to the musicians; performances phoned in by artists not available on the day of recording (4:00 into film); a variety of responses to the situation – some having fun, others perhaps a little self-conscious and some looking reflective/reverential. I’m no authority, but I suspect that John Cage would have been happy at recent events and would have smiled at those in the film, smiling and swaying, arm in arm and in time.[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/GYedTIMAf7E?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

p.s. Re the title of this post – have a look at the story of CATM (the text on grey background) here.

History of Music

While searching Youtube for a dynamic piece I’d heard on the radio the other day, I stumbled upon an excellent audio-visual history of music in 20 chapters. Each video features key works from the specified historical period, the composer’s dates and photograph (or portrait). Simple idea, excellently done – and ideal for SQA Listening revision. You can access all 20 videos below:

http://www.youtube.com/user/myhistoryofmusic

Vox Project

Always a source of fascination, Radio 4 is launching Vox Project – researching the oldest instrument on Earth – the human voice. Listeners/readers are invited to send recordings of their voice, engaged in one of various comparative tasks, to the researchers at UCL. The one which particularly interested me (and possibly many of you) is the difference in one’s voice when teaching as opposed, say, to chatting to friends. Schools are full of digital recorders now so why not get involved.

You can send recordings via Audioboo (if you have a iPhone or Android Phone) – otherwise you can upload to Youtube and email a link to info@whistledown.net

The site also features:

I’ve said it before but I’m often struck by how important our voices are in teaching and how little we really know about them. Or is it just me?

Chess

In our enthusiasm for learning through gaming, might we be overlooking one of the oldest games in the world – chess? There is sufficient belief in its contribution to learning in general, that countries as varied as America, Russia and Venezuela include the game – and its study – in the curriculum. Closer to home, Chess Scotland is very active in school life (look for Schools link in menu on left-hand side).

Google Alerts threw a pdf document my way entitled the Benefits of Chess in Education, in which, like music, chess is shown to strengthen other domains – reading, maths, logic, planning, problem solving, juggling options. There appear also to be social and behavioural benefits.

The chess community has not been slow to augment traditional over the board games and analytical books with a variety of hi-tech and online resources: chess computers; software; websites; gaming sites. YouTube features many instructional videos on openings and endgames in addition to more performance-based films such as this amazing blitz game (even the physical co-ordination is impressive – let alone the mental performance):[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bzrap8Vtyq8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] 

or this simul, in which Garry Kasparov defeats 25 opponents:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/lsG7sdF4X8k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Perhaps, though, despite all this, the game of chess continues to labour under the image of being a geeky game? Well, not in South Bronx, where the Dark Knights record against schools which can afford private coaching is very impressive.

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.

String Theory 2

Armed with a Flip Video Camera, I asked a pupil to record over my shoulder while changing two strings on a guitar – one bronze-wound bass string and one nylon treble string. The idea of this view was that it would be the same as someone changing their own strings.

On reflection, I think a more scripted affair might have been better – and less savage lighting. However, this is an experimental phase and, should a better recording emerge, I will replace this one. Thanks to Callum in S4 at Knox for agreeing to have this camera-work sprung upon him.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/N57QSwOHvP8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

However, for drama, I can't compete with this