Category Archives: Reading

Connected Media

“Eventually Everything Connects”    Charles Eames (1907-78)

Since becoming convinced by Robert Jones’ post to subscribe to a feed-reader (Google Reader, in this particular case) I’m pleased to have come across many articles, blogs, sites etc. that I might otherwise have missed. Here are a few of the interesting ones, some of which may be of interest to others:

Music related  –  Music & Personality which includes a link to a description of The Five Big Personality Traits  –  Seven Ways Music Influneces Mood  –  Discover The Perfect Musical Performance

One for the “reporting season” – Writing Down Affectionate Thoughts Reduces Cholestorol

One for Guidance? Spotting Lies or test yourself at this skill here

Language – White Brain Matter & Fast Language Learners

Study Skills? Gesture, Meaning & Memory

Social Ed? A Quirky Look At Our Quirky Species

Transition? Cognitive Ability Mostly Developed Before Adolesence

All of us? Attention Span  –  Feeling valued in the workplace  –  Decision Making

And if it all gets too much – Putting Things In Perspective, whose links include one to featuring a fantastic film called Powers of Ten by Charles Eames depicting the size of the universe from the macroscopic to the microscopic.

eduBuzz Open Meeting

This afternoon’s eduBuzz Open Meeting had been pretty well documented by
Ollie Bray, David Cain, Don Ledingham, Lynne Lewis & Tess Watson by the time I finally got online this evening and so I’ll simply make a few bullet points:

  • eduBuzz Conference – I was delighted to hear that a traditional (as opposed to Skype) conference seemed to be favoured. I’m all for technology but, to quote the recent Yellow Pages ad, “here’s to the face to face.”
  • mention was made of the likelihood of pupils wanting to drift into txt language and Ronnie Summers, I felt, hit the nail on the head by suggesting that this was not an issue of right or wrong but simply of encouraging pupils to have an awareness of audience and of the importance of not alienating anyone. Sandra, who is behind much of the prolific blogging from Law Primary, pointed out that, in creating blogs and comments, the need for “quality feedback” was stressed and that simply posting “Cool!” as a comment was not very informative.
  • Extreme Learning – Instrumental Instructors are the only (teaching) group able to follow through (in person) from P4 – S6 – yet exactly how interested instructors can become involved in this exciting cross-curricular, ageless development remains somewhat unclear
  • Recording – it came out in a conversation that the pupils whose mp3s grace my blog receive very little, if any, notice as I cannot guarantee being able to get hold of the equipment I have been using – might this be a possible area for funding?
  • Ollie pointed out that keeping in touch with or contributing to a blog ought rightly to be considered as CPD.

Interestingly, as I flicked through a few pages on the site before posting, my better half, Lesley (who is involved in web design), looked over my shoulder, impressed at the set up (I was looking at one of the new Transition pages). She asked, “is East Lothian simply light years ahead of other authorities with this?”

Digital Narcissism

BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House featured an article this morning about Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur  (Listen Again  – fast forward 15 mins as soon as the Radio Player opens).

Keen’s view is that “worthless, unreliable content” is undermining traditional media. He lashes out at the “incoherence and anonymity” of much of this “flattened media” which he also refers to “digital narcissism.” His own blog, which features no links to other writers, may give more of an idea of his view. There are also numerous views of his book by, for example, David Smith of The Observer, Brian Appleyard of The Times and Yasmin Ailibhai-Brown of The Independent.

In the programme the view appeared to being put forward that traditional media were losing out as a result of self-generated web content. This is incongruent with my own experience. If I choose not to read reviews of his book in tangible newspapers it is not because I prefer to read, say, the emotional diary of an 11-year old in Arkansas, but rather because I might read exactly the same reviews in their digital format.

Mention was made of calls for a code of conduct, in which endeavour East Lothian can consider itself ahead of the game. No mention whatever was made of education – either in its formal guises or in the use of technology to further independent inquiry. Nevertheless, I was able to discover (from reliable sources) the correct spelling of Mr Keen’s name, the ISBN, price and number of pages of his new book and to read three cogent reviews. None of this would have been possible on a Sunday morning before the invention of the internet in 1990. Who knows, I might even buy the book, thereby doing my bit for the economy of traditional media.

Pipe Dream?

At a recent in service there were requests from many of my colleagues for instructors to be issued with laptops (pre-loaded with Sibelius score writing software). Our co-ordinator, Peter Antonelli, asked that anyone who already uses their own laptop in lessons email him a description of use. It was agreed that I would post details here and send Peter a link.


  • Calendar (including reminder function) for noting report deadlines, quality assurance, exams, concerts, East Lothian rehearsals
  • Reporting (preparing txt to paste into Filemaker) – we need to save time as access to intranet via school computer (the only route) can be extremely limited
  • Auxiliary record of work – speed of typing and the impossibility of running out of space means that more detail can be included – abbreviations, whose meaning are lost to PTs (and sometimes after the event even to me) can be avoided. Copy/paste as relevant here as it is elsewhere.
  • Compiling SQA programmes including timings, negotiating order of pieces with pupil etc.

Solo repertoire

  • Having own edition of music with preferred fingering, written technical advice/reminders, personal layout choices for ease of reading – e.g. section numbers for ease of finding place – new phrases beginning at the left of the page
  • highlighting or excluding any passage e.g. a paraphrase of the great Scottish folk song “O you play the blue notes and I’ll play the black ones, And I’ll reach bar sixteen before you….”
  • highlighting top or bass notes
  • moving all notes to single pitch to concentrate solely on rhythm
  • having and altering a metronome (click track) for play-along
  • extracting midi file for pupils (usually several at a variety of speeds)
  • extracting passages to create exercises for specific technical points which arise
  • ties – one version with only played notes visible – another with played and held notes visible (sorry for the jargon – no way round this one)

Ensemble repertoire

  • using a file as virtual ensemble in lessons
  • being able to add to or subtract from pupils individual part with their agreement (resaving under their name before extracting to print)
  • preparation of midi files for pupils to take home and also for posting on Exc-el


  • playing pupils an extract of a professional recording of a piece on which they are working e.g. in iTunes
  • playing interesting while tidying up – things which may have come up in conversation in the lesson
  • preparation of supplementary theory handouts
  • preventing pupils from excluding an unpractised piece from the lesson by “forgetting it”
  • Countdown spelling game for concepts and musical terms i.e. spell out the word letter by letter in the hope that someone will recognise it before you get too far into the word

This final use often leads to short discussion about the component parts of the word where separating them out with the spacebar is a great help. I feel that those with an interest in language are more likely to retain the word thereafter. Were we connected to the internet in our rooms, I should love to access my favourite etymological website so that pupils might see from where some the names of concepts arise. Here are a few examples for your delectation:

syncopation   anacrusis   harmony   melody   rhythm   cadence   counterpoint

(I can see a new idea for an additional page on the blog emerging)

It’s A Fair Copy

As SQA practical exams approach and the finishing touches are applied to pupils’ programmes e.g. order of pieces, one final task remains – providing examiner’s copies of the music. In many cases this amounts to no more than the simple (and legal) photocopying of parts (to be ritually obliterated once the event is over). For items produced using score writing software, other choices exist. The principle question is – what does the examiner need to see? The short answer is, the notes and the marks of expression. I tend to remove everything else and this can result in a remarkable difference in the appearance of both copies.

So what is being removed? Continue reading It’s A Fair Copy

Computer Peripheral

IT purchase of the year? A wooden lectern from Waterstones for £20. Advancing years and the remnants of a whiplash injury have made me increasingly conscious of posture at the computer. This fetching desktop lectern eliminates the strain of looking down at music, text etc. It also keeps the book open at the right page – worth every penny. A few people have mentioned that they are very handy when cooking, but I favour the traditional spatula.


Five play-along midi files of Passepieds by Telemann are now available for downloading – see Guitar Group Support (midi files). This piece features quite drastic echo effects which it is not really possible to include (without causing other problems) in a midi file (see Thoroughly Modern Midi). We will, however, include all volume contrasts in rehearsal and performance.

There are also copies of all the parts for those who want to explore the piece in more depth – see Guitar Group Support (additional parts).

Good luck, and thanks for your hard work this week – a good start to the year!

Connect 8

It’s Science, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

There are three elements in music – rhythm, melody and harmony. Like other elements, they combine into the various compounds which constitute music. When tricky moments occur, the problem could be caused by one or more elements and some degree of separation may be required to locate the culprit. This is a process with which pupils may be familiar, through Science. Examing the relationship between component parts in a given scientific field often involves: Continue reading Connect 8