Have you thought about the English in Music?

musicteach

New member
In Eduction, we have this theory. If we can connect one subject's curriculum to that of another subject, our students will learn better, will retract more information, and will ultimately be more successful in life. This isn't a new theory, it's been around for a while. If you go your local high school/middle school, you can see it in action. Why does this work? Well to answer that question we have to explain how the brain works. The brain is series of electrical currents...or connections. Bad connections=no flow. So when we connect this subject to that, when the student is sitting in class, the brain gets that extra connection. Yeah that's great, but why post this on a music forum? Well, music is just the same! I'm going to present this to you in a way maybe you haven't seen before, and maybe it will help you as a musician. (Is a little long, sorry!)

In music, our first connection other subjects is incredibly easy! Heck, we're classified under it! Yes, arts. More specifically performing arts. Well, what's an art? Art is: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Music is considered a performing art, and marching band is also a visual art. This is our most basic connection, and when you learn about the Arts, music is always included in this.

Do you know what the next connection is? Yes, it is Science. More specifically, acoustics which is the Science of Sound. Every note has frequency that it vibrates at. This vibration creates a sound wave. A sound wave is a disturbance in the air. Lower sounds create slower moving waves. Higher produce faster moving waves. If we could could look at this on a graph, it would look something like this:
linegraph.png

(please ignore the crudeness!)
The red line in this is showing a lower frequency, and the blue is showing a higher frequency. You may not know, but the height (and depth) of each crest of the waves is the volume of the frequency. Now given this information, do you know (or can figure out) what octaves would look like on the graph? Everytime the lowest frequency hits (so say middle C), every higher frequency will hit at that exact same point, just with times crossing in between. This is why Middle C and C abouve it sound the same but are clearly an octave apart.

This ties nicely into the next connection. Math. Every interval on the grand scale is the result of a mathematical formula. It's not playing darts it's here the next time it's here. No, the note will always be in the same "point" on the graph. This is why as musicians we can be trained to play instruments...because of the math behind it. Although we don't realize it, we're playing the result of the formula.

So there's two core subjects left, can you figure out which one is next? Language. Why? Because music IS a language in of itself. In your English class you're thought how to build sentences, form paragraphs, and put the paragraphs to form longer passages until you get to books. So it goes words--->phrases--->sentences--->paragraphs--->page (essay)--->chapter--->book, right? Each building on the previous part. Music is the exact same way!
singlemessure.png

I have here a single half note in 4/4 time. For us musicians, this is a single word. And from here, the music will build upon itself. Now of course for us, this is a very basic concept. Yes, measures put together produce music phrases. We all know this.

Lastly, we try to study the history music. It has of course, been here since long before us. It was in the trees.
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
Your Marching Band students are lucky to have you as their leader. As a grizzled veteran of "music battles" with the disinterested public and the philistines who think they know about music, I applaud you for giving a conscientious "run-through" of what is involved.

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:
 

musicteach

New member
Your Marching Band students are lucky to have you as their leader. As a grizzled veteran of "music battles" with the disinterested public and the philistines who think they know about music, I applaud you for giving a conscientious "run-through" of what is involved.

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

lol Thanks! It's all about connecting the curriculum. Like most high schools, mine is a college-readiness high school. It works, it does. One thing I love doing and it's coming up in January is the Sound Lab. Every year, myself, one of our science teachers (a good friend of mine) and volunteer seniors go to the middle schools that we feed from and we do the Sound Lab for the 8th grade students. It's a really fun demonstration--everybody involved has a blast--about how sound works, the science behind it, how instruments work etc. We try to bring something that you obviously cannot see (sound waves) and put it in a tangible format. Not to mention it's just incredibly fun. I love doing it, and it's great promotion for the Music and Science Departments at the high school. You'd be amazed at how many of the 8th grade students don't realize how scientific music is and how musical science is.
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
lol Thanks! It's all about connecting the curriculum. You'd be amazed at how many of the 8th grade students don't realize how scientific music is and how musical science is.

Oh yes indeedy - ABSOLUTELY SO!!! :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:
 

musicteach

New member
Oh goodness CD it's so much fun, I love the Sound Lab. It's amazing to see teachers that have been teaching for ~40yrs who have seen the demonstrations before come up on stage and have a blast doing the demos. We try to present it in a fun and creative way, but still, the learning is there, and that's the important. One of my favourite parts of the demos is the PVC instrument. Do you know what I'm referring to? Those things are just absolutely amazing. We have one set up, and it's on wheels, and we present the question "So from what we've told you today, what do you think will happen when you hit these different pipes?" Which to us of course is obvious. It's amazing the energy about it. Then we tell them "Okay, so since this is an instrument, do you think we can play it like say a tuba? If I blow into this is it going to make the sound?" Which of course is no which leads us into the explanation of vibrations. Then me and a couple of my students will play something on the instrument. The whole two hours really is a blast.

(I love my job)
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
Hahahaha:lol::lol::lol: Yes exactly so - the PVC - a great tool to open eyes with...

A little more humor: the 32-foot Contragamba stop in the organ at Riverside Church in New York City is made of PVC - The late, great organist Virgil Fox nicknamed it the 32-foot Contraceptive.
 

musicteach

New member
CD- have you ever played with the boom sticks? They're a great tool too, and it seems like every music teacher as a set. Or in my case a frankenstein set put together from several sets. They're great fun too, especially demonstrating vibrations. So what we'll do is ask the audience "So what causes the waves in the air that gives us the sound?" And often enough they don't know. So at this point we'll bring an audience member up and give them a couple of the boom sticks and tell them to hit them together and tell us what happens. And you know teachers love this stuff too. I've said it a thousand times over the years, and I'll probably say it a thousand more times before I retire teachers are the biggest kids. Especially teachers at the middle and elementary levels. Why? Because we have to think like kids! And the general mindset is that teachers are supposed to be mature and mean and everything but that's not the always the case. It's so amazingly refreshing to see teachers up on the stage having more fun than the students.
 

wljmrbill

Active member
Enjoyed the discussion and reminds me of a college professor I had: explanations from theory and science of music. Thanks for posting.
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
Musicteach,

Yes, I've played with "boom-sticks" - a great explanatory tool. And then when we get to know about those frequencies, we can also get to know about frequencies that are so catastrophically destructive e.g. gamma waves.

In my not too distant past I did research in Astrophysics, getting to know about radio astronomy and gamma wave astronomy and other sub-disciplines with all the talk about frequencies and so much else was so much fun. So, if you "know" music, you'll begin to understand the known Universe, yet we'll never know everything.

We can measure and describe the Universe as we know it but we don't know why astrophysical phenomena happen or what is the reason for those phenomena's existence or Who is behind it. What about the Universe beyond the measurable Universe? What about the existence of Time and Space that is outside our knowledge of 3+1 Spacetime, where we know about height, width, and length and then add the dimension of time?

So, let us get back to music. Really great music, say JSBach's, has the ability to take us up out of ourselves and our pitiable and pathetic circumscribed Universe - to experience something, shall I say "Eternal"...JSBach is no longer with us, but his music lives on and will live on in Eternity.
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
Have you seen those different "clarinets" where someone attaches a few extra meters of flexible hose to the clarinet and, voila, a really low octave sound emanates from the end of the hose when the "instrument is played. Of course, the sound is much different. I have toyed with the idea of making a 24' carbon fiber alphorn(detachable in sections) w/ key mechanism for to achieve chromatic scales. And then there's the project for a five-string Double-Bass tuned in fifths, where the lowest note is sub-contra FF and the width from top lid to bottom lid will be 18". I have Koa wood for the project, so now to find the time to build it.
 

musicteach

New member
Very very nice CD. I've seen five string double basses, but of course tuned in fourths. The highest string then of course is C (4th abouve G). But anyways, I realize you think I'm crazy, which I am of course, but I said that boomsticks are fun twice. I did this intentionally, to go into my next point. And that is as teachers, we have to be constantly on our toes, thinking of new ideas to encourage our students to learn. Our biggest challenge has always and will always be presenting the same ideas in new and creative ways to kindle that fire which is learning. Math is one of those subjects that make it difficult for teachers to do this. Wherever you go, you're always going to find a teacher who when they started teacher rode dinosaurs to work. It always seems like they teach Math as well. I'm kidding of course, and picking on Math teachers a little here, but that's because it's an easy example. Trust me, there's plenty of music teachers out there that just as set and ground in their ways. Anyways, do you know why teachers teach? Why we do what we do? No, it's not for the money, that's for sure! It's the wonder in our student's eyes, it's that spark of the fire that is the desire for knowledge. That's why we wake up in the morning, drink our coffee, and face the world. In teaching and as a parent when the students receive bad marks, there's always the question of who do we blame. I'm guilty of it myself. It's always a debate between the student and the teacher. It's the question of who failed who? As a teacher, it's really hard for us sometimes to take some of the blame, we always want to go to "You get what you earn!" but that isn't always the case. It's the difference between dropping an alka seltzer in oil vs. water. It's a metaphor, that in order to be successful and reach their full potential a student has to be in their element so to speak. As teachers, we have to teach them in the way that clicks for them.

What I'm talking about here is put an alka seltzer in water. It's going to fizz, which is exactly what it is meant to do. Well if you take an alka seltzer tablet and put it into oil, this reaction is much much reduced. When you teach in the same manner as you always have, you're always going to reach the same amount of students. There's always going to be students that this clicks with--which is why teachers get set in their ways. BUT! There's always going to be students who "slip through the cracks". Back to the blame game here, when a student isn't trying doesn't really care etc etc and they fail the class, this is pretty much their fault. They don't do the homework, don't study, etc. But when a student is giving their best effort, but are still not succeeding, as teachers, this IS OUR FAULT! Why? Because it's job to find ways to make things click. It's my personal belief when we allow students to slip through the cracks, and we did nothing to stop it, we have failed as a teacher. That's a harsh word. Think about this for a second. We set out to inspire our students and make things click, but when students slip through the cracks and we didn't try different things to provide that net to catch them and then a ladder for them to climb...We. Have. Failed.

One of my favourite classes to teach is theory. In the spring time, I teach this class, and I like it because I get a chance to feel like every other teacher in the building. Band teachers are often considered "in their own pack" mainly because our field of study/teaching it's hands on. I mean...how do you teach someone how to play say a violin? Well...it typically helps to have a violin handy. Whereas with say English it's reading/writing. It can be interactive of course, but the more focus is on the written work. And obviously, within Music, we have to have that theory too. But it's usually applied theory. I love the challenge of presenting the very very boring side of theory in a format that it's easy to chew.

I'm closing up, I swear! I love science, it's my second favourite subject, always has been. Anyways, there's this really cool guy called Steve Spangler. If you haven't heard of him, he's from Colorado. He has a TON of videos on youtube. Below is one of my personal favourites, enjoy!
 

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
No! you're not crazy - You're passionate about what you do - If only more teachers were passionate about what they do - There would be less kids flunking out of High School or College/University.
 

Mat

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Reading the OP reminded me of Leonard Bernstein and his TV shows. Especially the six lectures he gave at Harvard in 1973.

One of my favourite parts of the demos is the PVC instrument.

Ah, good old PVC. A few years ago, when I was on vacation, I kind of attended a summer music workshop that focused on making "simple" instruments. They were preparing a performance that involved playing with music, playing with light, playing with fire, singing, dancing, ect., ect. My friend and I were invited to become a part of the performance. We were also asked to do "something out of nothing" and were given a couple of PVC tubes to do that. Needless to say, we found a hand saw and started cutting. You can see the result below:

PVC.jpg

They may not look too impressive, but they did sound nice. And man, "tuning" them was a real challenge! As you can see, we decided to go with the blues scale. We got a bit enthusiastic while cutting the A#, that's why there's some masking tape on it...
 
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musicteach

New member
No! you're not crazy - You're passionate about what you do - If only more teachers were passionate about what they do - There would be less kids flunking out of High School or College/University.

I may be passionate, but I'm a little insane too ;) That's okay...crazy is fun. But thanks ^^

Reading the OP reminded me of Leonard Bernstein and his TV shows. Especially the six lectures he gave at Harvard in 1973.



Ah, good old PVC. A few years ago, when I was on vacation, I kind of attended a summer music workshop that focused on making "simple" instruments. They were preparing a performance that involved playing with music, playing with light, playing with fire, singing, dancing, ect., ect. My friend and I were invited to become a part of the performance. We were also asked to do "something out of nothing" and were given a couple of PVC tubes to do that. Needless to say, we found a hand saw and started cutting. You can see the result below:

View attachment 2769

They may not look too impressive, but they did sound nice. And man, "tuning" them was a real challenge! As you can see, we decided to go with the blues scale. We got a bit enthusiastic while cutting the A#, that's why there's some masking tape on it...

Percussion is honestly the easiest family to "do-it-yourself". Such as the PVC piping. I noticed you said "A#" not "Bb" any particular reason why you did this? I mean obviously it's the same note...just curious if you had some personal reason for calling it as A# not Bb...
 

Mat

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Well, I guess one could argue that A# and Bb aren't the same note... But to answer your question - no. We didn't put much thought into it. After we named the first pipe as Dis (D#), we just decided to go with sharps for the rest of them.

P. S. I remember that the first thing we played after we were done with tuning was the opening riff from Smoke On The Water ;)
 

musicteach

New member
Well, I guess one could argue that A# and Bb aren't the same note... But to answer your question - no. We didn't put much thought into it. After we named the first pipe as Dis (D#), we just decided to go with sharps for the rest of them.

P. S. I remember that the first thing we played after we were done with tuning was the opening riff from Smoke On The Water ;)

Err on a piano find an A. One key to the right is B. A# is one half step up and Bb is one half step down. If you notice...there's only one black key in between the two. So I'm confused as to your argument that they are not the same the note? :confused:
 

Mat

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Well, I just thought that for string players A#/Bb might not be the exact same note pitch-wise, because of their tendency of slightly sharping the notes with #'s and flatting the ones with ♭'s. Hence my earlier a little off-topic comment. As for the piano, A# and Bb are the same note and the same key*. No doubt about it.



*Hope I'm not mixing up the terms.
 

musicteach

New member
Well, I just thought that for string players A#/Bb might not be the exact same note pitch-wise, because of their tendency of slightly sharping the notes with #'s and flatting the ones with ♭'s. Hence my earlier a little off-topic comment. As for the piano, A# and Bb are the same note and the same key*. No doubt about it.



*Hope I'm not mixing up the terms.

You're right, string players do have a nasty and bad habit of doing this. It's a bad habit to get into, as the pitch is meant to be the exact same which you of course know. Sorry for the confusion on my part! As a string player and teacher, it's one of THE most annoying habits I've EVER seen string players develop. It drives me insane. It's a constant up-hill battle with my own string players. It's just like brass players have this habit of over compensating for their 1/3 combination (which is by default a little sharp) but they get into the habit of going too far, or continuing to compensate for it even if their instrument has already been tuned to compensate for it.
 
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