Category Archives: Personal Musicianship project

Personal Musicianship project Discovering new genres

Joseph Field 2/13/16

MTL Cambell

Personal musicianship project Expanding Understanding New Genres

Reggae

Introduction

Reggae has always interested me every since my exploration into other forms of popular music in high school. Expanding my horizons from strictly common practice period music lead me to several different genres eventually leading up to this one. Originally my interest with a more free and improvised palate of music learning began with learning the twelve bar blues. With a template of structure and instruction it was very approachable since it provided a format but allowed me to explore and try different notes and rhythms that weren’t preset or written down to follow. This eventually lead me to reading lead sheet symbols more and learning how chords really accompanied a melody or voice. After looking at the blues and lead sheets I began to see what areas of music really facilitated these concepts. Popular music was one of these categories however I was looking for music less in the western mainstream culture.

Finding out what Reggae was and what it contained interested me greatly for the following reasons: After getting my feet wet and comfortable with lead sheets and chord changes to accompany melody lines I began to start finding it somewhat predictable. Not that I didn’t find enjoyment out of popular music with this formula but I wanted to see what else music could promise. I found out that Reggae like the blues had a noticeable improvisation aspect to it as well as these other two key components that deviated from the popular music I understood. For one I was enthralled with the concept that there was a strong underlying use of syncopation in Reggae and thought this could really be interesting and keep me on my feet as well as a really useful tool to help me as a musician since I struggled with rhythm in my early stages of learning music. This reinforced the “grove” or feel you needed to instinctually know where the non strong beats were in a measure. Finally I was also happy to see there wasn’t always the conventional predictable chord changes of I IV and V consistently. The use of ii chords as well as other seventh chords made my interest grow in the genre.

History

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around the 1960’s evolving to become the main music of the country and expanding to other cultures especially the United States. Within a decade the music exploded internationally. The genre itself was derived from the countries urban and ethnic music known as Ska. Ska was essentially the fusion of common practice western music and ethnic African specifically Jamaican styles and innovations. To be specific it is was derived from well known music practice Rhythm and Blues originating in the New Orleans around the 50’s. The style of ska and reggae was initially instrumental featuring the piano, improvised guitar frames, trumpets trombones and other brass instruments.

The strong underlying characteristic of Reggae is the rhythmic syncopation that is prominent in all of Reggae”s genre. The emphasis of accents on “off beats” (Beats 2 and 4 in common time) is a symbolic rejection of the white man’s culture. The syncopation is also symbolic of gun shots and other noise symbolizing the dangers in the “ghetto” urban culture.

Contextually Reggae generally has transgressional lyrics that usually pertain to topics such economic, political and social injustices. A voice of the people this genre is often called for it’s cultural origin.

Here is a diagram of how the syncopated ostinato would be represented in musical notation

Different tempos describe the differences between the subgenres such as ska and rocksteady

Active practitioners/artists

Probably the most iconic symbol of Reggae and it’s music has been the artist Bob Marely. While he isn’t the only Reggae artist typically the genre often associates an image and philosophy around what he founded and promoted both through his music and social/political actions and movements. Growing up in West Kingston Jamaica, Bob Marely saw and experienced much or the hardship that government supported districts with low income and much poverty. Bob Marely is being also a prominent figure in the cultural aspect of Reggae which is the Rastafarian faith (a mixture of protestant Christianity and mysticism being a big proponent of peace and love) Marely’s endeavors included some of the following: His formation and writing with the group called the Wailers, his “One love” peace concert concerning Jamaica’s warring political factions as well as Zimbabwe’s independence.

Another well known artist from Reggae’s origin was Peter Tosh. A musician who worked with Bob Marely in founding and contributing greatly to the group, The Wailers. Like Marely, Peter Tosh was also very political in his music and lyrics. One of his notable songs was “Get up, Stand up” being significantly political in strong opposition to the current political establishment and racist culture. His other album title works included other strong political views and subject such as the following: Legalize It, Equal Rights and No Nuclear War. While Peter Tosh was a member of the Wailers, like Marely he later ended up going on his own solo career.

An artist that took a slightly different spin on the genre of Reggae was the artist, Jimmy Cliff (James Chambers). Taking Reggae in a different direction, Jimmy Cliff stylistically fused Reggae’s components with popular music, rhythm and blues and even soul music. Artists such as Jimmy Cliff began to make Reggae a more expanded and diverse form of music culture than it originally had started as. He made a significant impact in the South American community, specifically Brazil at a music festival with his well known number “Waterfall”. Artists such as Jimmy Cliff and Marely influenced Western culture to adapt and incorporate the Reggae style into their music. Examples being Eric Clapton and Paul Simon.

Dennis Brown was a Reggae artist that came much later on through the development of Reggae in the Jamaican and Western Culture. Born in the same town of Marely, he experienced many of the same hardships and saw from similar points of view. He began working towards his music career around the age of nine. His talent was finally recognized at a concert by a client of studio one. By the early 70’s he had reached reggae and soul top hits. His notable songs include “Some like it hot” “My time” and “Westbound train” all of which reached the U.K top hits. His influence in Reggae drove it in new directions with new influences and styles such as dancehall, rock and roll and electronic.

http://www.biography.com/people/dennis-brown-20904379#early-career

http://www.britannica.com/topic/the-Wailers

http://www.britannica.com/art/reggae

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Jimmy-Cliff

Repertoire

“One love”

“One love/ People get ready” Was a song written by Bob Marely and The Wailer’s in 1977 following their album Exodus. The song originally contained this full title due to interpretations and representation of the song “People get ready” written by Curtis Mayfield. This was later on removed due to copyright issues that were not enforced in Jamaica. The Genre is now categorized as roots Reggae due to it’s origin and release in the early days of Reggae before other genre influences changed the Reggae scene. Characteristics of roots reggae would be more influenced by rhythm and blues as well as ska rather than pop or soul music. Additionally, it is also a compliment to the Rastafarian belief of love and peace

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Love/People_Get_Ready

“Get Up, Stand Up”

Another song written by Bob Marely, Peter Tosh and The Wailers. This was accompanied by the album “Burnin’” which was released in 1973. It was recorded in their hometown Kingston. It’s popularity grew allowing it to reach the Dutch Top 40 an offshore radio station that began around 1965. A slightly different and more aggressive approach to the Rastifarian belief this was more transgressional and challenged the system set up in Jamaica at the time. The Wailer’s all rereleased their version of the song in their solo careers after the Wailer’s broke up one of which was Tosh who released it on his album Equal rights in 1977.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Up,_Stand_Up

Iron Lion Zion

One of Marely’s later works, this song incorporates different facilities and usages of his lyrics. This delves more into the mystic part of Rastifarian belief deviating from the Christianity portion of it. It is understood their form of the promised land is represented by Zion their version of Ethiopia. The symbol of the Ethiopian flag, The Lion is symbolic and their version of their messiah. Recorded in the mid 70’s the song did not reach huge popularity until the early 90’s where it again reached the top of the UK charts.

Tools, Techniques

Instrumentation would be revolving around the following instruments:

Guitar, Electric Bass guitar, keyboards, trumpets, trombones and other brass instruments and vocals.

Stylistically the strumming pattern on the guitar would be a palm muted down stroke on the guitar and a chord placement for the up stroke on the guitar creating the syncopated feel, sound and grove.

Additionally chords are conventional of I IV and V as Reggae explores more jazz rooted concepts such as ii chords and other progressions such as the following:

The drums typically have a shuffle influenced by the style of rhythm and blues and the accents are on the off beats again.

https://www.tes.com/lessons/Zg2yIWzpScnNQA/exploring-new-genres-reggae

Personal musicianship project Learning an instrument/Performing

Basics

Basic performance skills needed for this instrument: There are several attributes that it takes in order to perform sufficiently on the guitar. These include the following: Being able to hold the guitar in a comfortable fashion. Specifically, being able to rest the guitar on your lap and being able to hold up and sustain the position of the guitar horizontally to you or slightly above a horizontal position. Being able to wrap your left hand around the neck without straining any muscles or having any uncomfortable wrist positions. Having the fingers curled and be able to press down with enough weight on the nylon or steel strings. The right hand should be able to hold a pick. Being able to grasp the guitar pick with the index finger and the thumb with a study but not tense grip suitable for strumming the strings on the guitar. Being able to position the hand horizontally and being able to move the wrist vertically up and down for strumming purposes.

After learning the physicality of the guitar, it’s important to learn the string names on the guitar and generally how the frets work in relation to the strings and fingers. A good way to approach this is maybe to explain the theory behind the intervals and placement of fingers on frets and strings. However this maybe difficult for person to relate to if they have no prior musical experience. Even with no prior experience having someone understand that putting down fingers on the strings of the guitar affects the sound that comes out of it and different finger configurations will result in different sounds. Additionally one should not neglect the techniques in the right hand as this will affect the sound production coming out of the guitar. Having the student recognize the importance of the right hand and developing a solid and comfortable pick grip as well as correct curled fingers to pluck the guitar are key in the beginning stages.

Here are two step by step for beginners guitar tutorial:

The first video introduces the guitar in a way to someone just like they’ve never approached the instrument before. Starting off with naming the parts of the instrument is an excellent way to get the student familiar with the vocabulary typically used when referring to parts of the guitar and guitar playing. Explains how many strings there are and the parts of the instrument. After explaining both electric and acoustic the tutorial goes back to acoustic and explains the fundamentals of the guitar such as how to hold it, how to hold the pick and then how to tune the instrument. He also explains how to hold the pick properly.

The second video explains how finger placement on certain strings and frets create different chords (sounds) coming out of the guitar.

Practitioners

Arlen Roth is a celebrated guitarist with 35 years of experience under his belt, who has delved into the music genres of rock, metal, jazz, country and alternative. His groundbreaking and well renowned teaching template was his “Hot licks” teaching guide which sold two million videos world wide. In addition to his well established teaching concentration he has established he has worked and recorded with the following artists: Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Don McLean, Pete Seeger and Jack Bruce.

Here is a tutorial he has on Soul and rhythm and blues arpeggios:

http://www.gibson.com/Lessons/Arlen-Roth-Lessons/Lessons/Soul-and-R-B-Arpeggios.aspx

Teaching these tools opens the way for many aspiring musicians to gain the technical and theory knowledge needed to fully explore and expand their musical horizon and musicianship.

Here is his website:

http://www.gibson.com/Lessons/Arlen-Roth-Lessons.aspx

Learning Materials

Here is a website that is basically and encyclopedia of a majority of chords used in the guitar world ranging from simple triad chords to developed jazz chords. All provided with a fret and finger visual on the website:

http://www.all-guitar-chords.com

This website also provides chord progressions, a tuner, list of songs information on scales to chords relationships, licks and metronome for practice. A complete workshop for learning the fundamentals and advanced concepts of the guitar. It does not contain tablature notation or staff reading but it does contain theory knowledge of the circle of fifths to help the beginner understand the relationships of what they are playing on the instrument.

How to Read Sheet Music: Channel Your Inner Musician with These Simple Steps!

Provides an introduction lesson on how to read staff notation and music.

http://www.musictheory.net provides lessons on basic music theory.

https://fieldjg198.wordpress.com

 

 

http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/index.php

My performance on the Guitar

Cover of Fireside by The Arctic Monkeys off of their album AM

 

 

What Do I Know About Music Education Right Now?

What Do I Know About Music Education Right Now?

I understand that teaching music has a lot of fascists that needs to be tapped into adequately in order to have students learn about music and to see where else principles and skills of music can be applied to other classes as well as other life situations, and things that will arise in a students life. I understand how important the environment is for the student in education. The environment tells the students what to do. How an elementary school learning environment differs from a high school environment in it that the elementary school provides more of an experimental platform for students experiment in and make connections with visual and audible learning rather than a high school setting where they travel from class to class learning fro teachers with a specific knowledge in a subject. I understand that music education is similar to education in general in it that students learn with age and experience best above all other forms of teaching. Music education requires the teacher to be self elevating in the way they teach and demonstrate music concepts to students and to evaluate each student to see their understanding of the material and their strengths and weakness as a student. Music education is building relationships with students as often times music ensembles and classes for several grades for students end up with the same teacher for several marking periods or years. Music education also encourages students to participate in things outside of the class room whether it maybe festivals or other extra circular activities. Music education is also usually is one of the first things to be cut down in budgets when it comes to staff meetings and faculty of the school and the district. It is an uphill battle for music educators to express and explain the relevance and importance of music education to many of those who do not have an understanding of music. Music education also stresses the importance of exposing students to new ideas or new forms of music as to grab their interest in expanding their horizons with musical concepts, styles of music and playing as well as thinking creatively and outside the box which these skills learned in the music classroom can be applied to other classes or situations. Music education teaches students progressive improvement working slowly but surely to reach a goal/accomplishment. It teaches discipline and focus with diligence but also teaches how to be expressive and interpretive of what is to be performed. Music education also teaches students how to work together as an group to make a sound as a full ensemble. Music is many things. A limited thing it is not. 

Joseph Field 5/8/15

PME 

Spring 2015

What I know about music education now 

Where we have been (topic wise) throughout the semester: discussion about how to teach, why we teach, challenges of teaching and developing your philosophy of teaching.

We teach to help students explore where their mind takes them. As a blanket statement alone it sounds pretty ambiguous but it really means what it says. As teacher we are basically facilitators and guides for students to grow and become more of a complex individual. Teachers aren’t people who just give information to students to memorize and move on. They help students question and gradually build their thinking to a higher level of complexity in the following way: Accurately described and broken down by Bloom’s. Teachers allow students to progress through the stages of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The challenges in teaching are the following: Pressures of a criteria and curriculum/standards that have to be met by the school, teacher and student as required by the state. Finding what way of teaching is affective for all students as many students learn different ways, i.e visual versus audio able learners. Accessing students in different ways prior and post the course. My philosophy of teaching is to create and generate an analytical minds but not to stunt or counter productively work against a creative mind. This is the essential part of learning. If there is no creativity there is no progress and learning/growth.  

Your short teaching episodes/what it’s like to be on the other side 

The short teaching episode was a lot of fun! There’s a lot that you don’t originally anticipate when you plan a lesson. Lesson plans are half the battle. While they are imperative to how the class runs and how productive the learning process is for the teacher to the student one can never plan for what is actually going to happen during the actual lesson. Half of teaching is improvising within a frame. You don’t know how the students are going to react and you don’t know who’s going to understand what and visa versa. These are all things you have to work with in a time frame of a class period. Often times this is why extra help or private tutor sessions are given. I learned that it’s harder to write and explain things on the board than I originally thought. In your head your entire lesson plan and explanation makes sense to you but that doesn’t mean your logic will be comparable with some one else’s thinking and logical conclusions and connections. It was a great experience though to see what other people come up with when I asked them to write their own limericks. By seeing students works you get a climes into how their mind works. 

What you know about “education’ in general vs. ONLY music education, as this knowledge is going to greatly inform your answer.All this knowledge is relevant to your development as a teacher.

General education usually entails more text books, work books, written tests and sitting in rows and learning. Generally this is for upper division classes and grades in school. Elementary schools typically have students on more hands on activities. It is also important to note that music education teaches skills and lessons that are applicable to other classes and life. It teaches students how to stay on top of their work and how to problem solve. For example being given music and being asked to play it the student is analyzing the music and analyzing their instrument and by combining the two they are applying their knowledge in a relevant and in a timely and real time fashion. General education teaches students how to study and asses their own knowledge and apply it to situations and problems being presented to them. It helps them build the muscles in their brain to memorize and analytically make connections to make deeper connections and deeper understanding. In general education same in music education, teachers typically ask students question to get them thinking so they can arrive at an answer by themselves. By doing this the student will understand the context better and ask even more questions rather than just memorize some information at face value. 

The pedagogues you have become a little more familiar with this term: Ayers, Dewey, Kohn, Schwab, Ken Robinson and names associated with learning theory

Ayers essentially explains that the classroom is the foundation framework in which a student  learns and grows. The classroom is an environment and every environment has ideas or beliefs worked up in them wether they are self consciously placed in there or not. The environment tells the students what to do. 

Campbell discusses how teachers don’t just teach but specifically teach what they were taught. This creates a gap between what we know and want to teach to our students and what we can experiment or observe that is new. Constructivist teachers are trying to break this boundary and wall created in traditional teaching. 

Professional writing

Pre Professional studies and evaluation

Several factors have contributed to a gradual improvement of my practicing playing and understanding of full musicianship both as a performer, audience member and thinker. These sub categories of improvement include; how I practice, approach to performance, how I teach (explain something to a fellow peer). Working on the project on how to teach a certain bowing technique provided a different perspective on how to learn something yourself. Having to teach something essentially implies you understand the concept as a whole and in detail. You can explain the general over view and the broad steps that are required for accomplishing this task and then going into detail on how to accomplish this technique. Additionally looking back on the video I recorded of myself playing the Mozart Concerto in G major also provided me with an example of how I played a month or so ago. By having this as record I can evaluate how my playing has improved since the beginning of the semester. Elements such as phrasing to bow hold has gradually improved since then. Normally as we practice we don’t notice some of these improvements in our playing because it is very gradual. Having experienced both engaging in a project and viewing a recording has provided me with ideas that could be completely applicable to my future professional career in teaching. Using similar teaching strategies with future students will prove to be helpful tools in the education on future students. Studying the body map has also proved very helpful as a pre professional because it provided clarification of what was incorrect with my practice position and habits. These being position of neck on the instrument and shoulder neck relation, to sitting while practicing. Sitting correctly and understanding where the spine is in body mapping proved to make a more comfortable and affective position in sitting while practicing and playing which improved tone quality and stamina of playing. Understanding where these important joints and muscles are in the body and how to use them correctly could now be used in teaching other students so they don’t develop bad habits.

Time management has improved 10 fold since entering Crane. In High School Procrastination and lack of attention was a battle that was faced sometimes when practicing. Having been put in an environment where there is a busy schedule in a day you learn to adjust and become more driven and productive. Scheduling in my practice times have become a very essential part of my daily routine at Crane. Additionally being in environment surrounded by practice rooms provides a very concentrated environment with little distractions which leads to more productivity. String Seminar helped how to schedule my practice sessions and also helped schedule what to practice in those practice sessions. Rather than spending a little time on many things like in previous practice times I would now schedule a decent amount of time to one study weather it be an etude, a scale or even just a bowing technique. Having been in The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra provided me with a very serious pre professional youth study with a full Orchestra Ensemble. Practicing audition excerpts as well as the pieces outside of rehearsal really prepared me for Crane. Rehearsals implemented the professional approach to being in an performing group and the repertoire provided me with that extra work and push that was needed to improve as a musician and ensemble player. Crane Symphony Orchestra only improved it since then. Being in Crane also taught me to evaluate things that would normally be taught or gone through in private lessons back at home. Rather than the lesson going through the piece and marking in fingerings and learning some of the notes more woodshedding is done in the practice room so for when the lesson happens higher technical developments can be discussed with student and teacher along with musicality along with mastery of the repertoire being studied. Collaborating with fellow peers and students also provides helpful input from all different perspectives and ideas that one might not think of while practicing. This is one of the reasons studio is very important along with the fact of playing in front of people for experience.

My backgrounds to this school include the following Studying solo Piano. The study of Piano provided technical musicianship and a foundation of music for me. Memorizing repertoire provided a platform in which I can learn more in depth. This also helped me in Music Theory a great deal as well as applying my studies in the ViolinLittle background in Jazz. Studied the series of 12 Bar blues and The blues scale from an alumni from 5 Town’s College Music program.Recording background. Have recorded two songs in 5 Towns College Studio with recording equipment. String Ensemble in High School provided experience in small quartet and ensemble performingThe Metropolitan Youth Orchestra provided experience in full orchestra performance.Experience in teaching. Teaching private lessons at Catolano’s Music in New Hyde Park Long Island New York. Substitute Piano teacher. Has taught students learning Piano ages 6 to 15 and repertoire ranging from NYSSMA level 1 to 6.Areas that need building rhythm and counting in ensembles and improving technical aspects of Violin playing in solo work.

Bowing technique

Bowing technique (relaxing the fingers and wrist)

The topic of study will be on how we can relax our fingers and wrist and make them more flexible to optimize conserving energy and affectively playing at faster tempos without mistakes or fatigue.

Starting off simple!

The best thing to do when approaching improving a technique and building a muscle memory is to take it very slowly and break it down in to several categories so it does not appear as overwhelming to the musician.

1.) Bring it down to the basics.

Often times musicians find it difficult to improve on a skill because they are spreading themselves too thin and practicing too much of a variety of things in one practice session, rather than focusing and hone in on a certain study and skill that you can improve on. Even starting with the most simple exercise can prove the best way to understand and practice the fundamentals that are required for a certain skill

Steps to start the basics

  • Take a pen or pencil and hold it like you would hold your Violin bow and hold it vertically rather than horizontally.
  • Take your left hand and hold onto your right wrist not tight but firmly.
  • Allow your fingers to curl and drop over the pencil firmly but comfortably.
  • Let the fingers curl and drop moving the pencil down without moving the wrist significantly
  • Drop the pencil and bring the pencil back up with the movement of your fingers! (practice a few times vertical alone)
  • Once more comfortable with the fingers and grip on the pencil move the pencil horizontally. This may prove to be more difficult at first than moving it vertically. That is to be expected just make sure the hand is relaxed and fingers still have a grip on the pencil.

2.) Applying it to the actual bow

 

  • First address the type of bow you will be working with on this technique. Carbon Fiber or Wooden cam both execute this technique if done right. Some bows may weight more than others so it is imperative to see if the bow is best fit to the hand.
  • Once acquainted with the bow and the feel start again practicing the bow technique from a vertical position and having it drop with the fingers relaxed and griped onto the bow. Practice the same idea that was done with the pencil. It will be more weight so the fingers will need to gradually adjust to the weight difference form the pencil to a bow. (Remember to check in on your fingers with the bow to make sure if they are hanging over the frog and the pinky is curled. Also remember to check in on your arm and shoulder to make sure they are relaxed and not tense.)

 

 

3.) Approaching the instrument with the bow

 

  • Once comfortable with movement of fingers on the bow it is time to move it to the instrument.
  • Start by having the bow on the instrument very close to the frog
  • Pronate the fingers on the bow in order to move the bow across all four strings on the instrument without bringing the bow hair across the string. This is for applying the finger flexibility and fluent smooth string crossings.
  • Once feeling consistent with pronation of the fingers on the bow and smoothness of cross the strings start to use open strings on the instrument and moderately bring your bow across the string. Practice each string separately and then crossing the strings more frequently. Get the sense of how both the movement of the arm and wrist are with the fingers but also a separate function by themselves.

3.) Application of the technique to real music in repertoire

  • Below is Partita Number 3 Preludio by Johan Sebastian Bach for Violin. This piece alone encages thoroughly bow and finger and wrist technique almost throughout the entire piece.
  • Start off by figuring out the chord structures in the prelude in the section where the sequence revolves around the progression of I chord IV chord and V7 chord. (Figure position for double stops on Bach is an entirely another topic)
  • Remember to practice with open strings to focus on just the right hand when trying to reinforce the methods developed for the fingers and wrist.
  • Practice crossing between the A string, the E string and D string to fill the full chord in the sequence in the Preludio.
  • Use a metronome to start off slowly and gradually increase the speed by a few beats every two or three times going through the sequence at a speed it can be played clean and steady at. (Remember to stay near the frog but not too close to the frog)

4.) Evaluate your progress with the basics

 

  • It is never a bad idea to go back to the basics! Revaluate your progress by doing the pencil exercise. See how it feels to you then how easier it is. Continue to practice the exercise it will reinforce the good muscle memory that is there.

5.) Looking at he bigger picture an applying it to other music

 

  • Continue to study the Bach and look at other passages in the Preludio especially the runs at the bottom of the first page and third page. It should come easier to apply this finger flexibility and wrist movement in a smooth fashion because there are less frequent string crossings in other examples.
  • Apply it to ensemble music and see how this technique can also improve stamina and accuracy in other playing. 16th note runs in Orchestra ensemble music can also would be examples as to what other repertoire would be effectively played when this technique is improved upon.