Friday, January 23, 2009

A New-to-Me Way to Study Form.

We had a special schedule the other day and my Dean of Students needed me to watch about a dozen students of different grade levels and abilities for 45 minutes.  I was supposed to keep them busy.  So I quickly started thinking about what to do with them OTHER than bore them with a worksheet. I have always liked the Marsalis On Music video "Listening For Clues" for a very good explanation of form in music.  I have also been looking for ways to use Apple's Garageband.  Match made in heaven.  Watch the 32 bar song sequence, then go build your own song on the practice room computers using the loops. 
A couple of things about the experience.  
1.  If you are ever given a similar situation, don't babysit!  I was very pleased to have a chance to experiment with a mini lesson and the kids were much better behaved because they have a new project to work on.  This was a class that will never meet again and no one was expecting me to do great things with it.
2. While everyone got up and running with this and got something done, I would say about 5 more minutes spent on showing them the controls for playback and recording would have saved a few questions later.
I should have done a real-scientific-before-and-after-control-group study to see how much they learned, but I would say engagement was through the roof!  A new to me way to study form.  Try it!

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