Understanding Music Inside Out

After finishing my post on writing I had the opportunity to listen to an interview with Judy Carmichael.

colony400 Photo Source

Judy is the host of the Jazz Inspired radio program. This program explores creativity and each week in the program  “celebrated artists discuss their creative process and how their passion for jazz has inspired their work. They share their favorite recordings with the listener as well as insight into their life and art.”

Her interview explored virtuosity and creativity. This is the MP3 audio of the interview.

Listening to Judy’s ease with discussing Jazz I was reminded of another marvellous music interview I heard two years ago. That was between Michael Tilson Thomas and James Brown in We Were Playing Boulez, But We Were Listening To James Brown! The trail for the program reads:

As a university student, Michael Tilson Thomas and his colleagues were on the cutting edge of modern classical music. One day, while he was driving on the LA freeway, a song by James Brown came on the radio. That song, and the many that followed, changed MTT’s views about how to perform the music of Boulez, Stravinsky, and the like. The level of energy, the precision, the sense of time, the angularity — all gave the young conductor insight into the music he was performing.

mtt Photo Source

The confidence with which Judy Carmichael and Michael Tilson Thomas spoke about music reminded me of Maureen Pope‘s discussion of the personal contruction of formal knowledge and her link to Arthur Koestler‘s articulation of the vision that links poet, scientist and artist.

After listening to both interviews I revisited Howard Gardner’s discussion of multiple intelligences. He suggests that musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. (Mark Smith)

This reminded me of two quotes:

Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent (Victor Hugo)

Music is the silence between the notes (Claude Debussy)

Overall my writing about writing and about music has amplified my interest in performances of understanding and the forms this understanding can take. Lee Gutkind, Judy Carmichael and Michael Tilson Thomas have a great deal in common.

Postscript

Classic FM’s Keys to Music has broadcast (May 2009) four programs about Music Education.

1: The Body
In Part 1 of the series Graham Abbott and Richard Gill discuss the importance of dance and movement in a child’s musical experiences. In this program they are joined by Dr Micheal Giddens, a leading exponent of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.

2: The Voice
Graham and Richard discuss the importance of singing in a child’s life. They are joined by Kathryn Sadler, one of Melbourne’s leading singing teachers and choir directors.

3: Instruments Download
In Part 3 Graham and Richard discuss why learning an instrument is good for children. They are joined by Alastair McKean, Director of Border Music Camp in Albury, NSW.

4: The Mind Download
Graham and Richard conclude their discussion on the importance of Music Education for children. In this program they focus on the proven benefits of musical experiences for a child’s intellectual and social development.

Accidental Connectivism and the Impulse to Write

Writing has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps because I have been thinking about writing I am finding stimuli everywhere and everywhen. I realise that it may be that I am an ‘accidental connectivist’.

The most recent stimulus was George Siemen’s blog post Teaching as transparent learning. In the post George explores the idea of learning by sharing:

My work on blogs, articles, handbooks, and so on is an invitation to engage in conversation, not a proclamation of what I absolutely know.

He adds that Will Richardson (see, for example, New Reading, New Writing), Terry Anderson, Stephen Downes, Grainne Conole, amongst others, “seek not to proclaim what they know, but rather to engage and share with others as they explore and come to understand technology and related trends.” (Stephen Downes picks up on this point in his OLDaly post. Stephen notes that “When I write, and even when I speak, I am basically thinking aloud – and readers and listeners are able to follow along.”)

George adds to his list Alan Levine, D’Arcy Norman, Janet Clarey, Brian Lamb and Alec Couros as examples of writers who decide “to share their thoughts and ideas in a transparent manner” in doing so “they become a teacher to those who are observing.”

[George’s post sent me off on a tangent about teaching and demonstration. Many years ago some physical education textbooks used to talk about ‘executive demonstration’. This kind of demonstration required the teacher to demonstrate a skill or an activity. The idea was that learners could observe and extract from the demonstration. Whilst looking for some links to old texts I came across a conference paper by Michael Messerole and Paul Clark (2004) entitled Electronic Portfolios: What Value Do They Provide? In it they show examples of teacher candidate portfolios. These examples include “types of digital artifacts being created by teacher candidates, including digital video, text and electronic documents.”   Michael and Paul’s paper demonstrates the transparency George writes about.]

Earlier this week (27 April) OLDaily pointed me to Clay Birrell’s post How to write timed essays that are not crap. He shares an approach to writing that  “was never possible before about two years ago – a way that allows the students to literally watch and hear their teacher read an AP Exam prompt, read the exam poem cold, and then write the exam. All under test conditions, within the 40 minute time limit.”

Will Richardson’s post on New Reading, New Writing had a fascinating ripple effect. Gardner Campbell picked up on the annotation potential of Diigo explored in Will’s post as did Melanie Jennings.

A few days earlier two car journeys in two days gave me access to Radio National’s Book Show. One of the journey’s had me transfixed with Lee Gutkind’s interview.

lgutkind Photo Credit

I was fascinated by Lee’s discussion of creative non-fiction as a genre and followed up his discussion here in which he observes that:

Although it sounds a bit affected and presumptuous, “creative nonfiction” precisely describes what the form is all about. The word “creative” refers simply to the use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner. To put it another way, creative nonfiction writers do not make things up; they make ideas and information that already exist more interesting and, often, more accessible.

Number 36 of the Creative Nonfiction Journal took George’s transparency and Will’s Diigo annotations one step further:

During the editing process for this issue, with the permission of the writers, we eliminated the original beginnings of three essays and started them a few paragraphs or pages in. Our goal was to make the beginnings more immediate, to eliminate some writerly throat-clearing, to help plunge readers into the heart of the story—the action, the theme, the substance—from the very beginning. Did these changes in fact make this story more effective? And what was lost in the process? See what the author had to say about the changes, and join the discussion below!

One day earlier I listened to the Book Show’s discussion of Richard Brautigan and Chris Kelly‘s great idea for the Torpedo magazine‘s birthday tribute.

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John Barber has created a remarkable website that chronicles Richard Brautigan’s work. In a section on Brautigan’s novels, this quote appears:

One day when I was twenty-five years old, I looked down and realized that I could write a sentence. Let’s try one of those classic good-bye lines, “I don’t think we should see so much of each other any more because I think we’re getting a little too serious,” which really meant that I wrote my first novel Trout Fishing in America and followed it with three other novels.

An audio file of the Radio National program can be found here. I ended up reading some of Richard Brautigan’s poems after Adam Ford‘s observation that Brautigan started writing poetry “to learn how to write a sentence and once he was satisfied he could write a good sentence he would have a crack at writing fiction.” I liked this short poem from Wild Dog (1965) entitled The Buses:

Philosophy should stop
at midnight like the buses.
Imagine Nietzsche, Jesus
and Bertrand Russell parked
in the silent car barns.

I did stop myself pursuing poetics at this point but I did remember fondly Miller Mair‘s work.

All these opportunistic encounters add to my sense of being an accidental connectivist. By this I mean that many of the wonderful opportunities to engage with other writers in structured courses like CCK08 are transformed into a local context after such courses are ‘over’. Of late I have been participating in Yammer communities and writing Tweets. Both of these encourage parsimony. Despite the brevity of exchanges in these media I sense there is enormous transparency available too (shortly after concluding this post I received a link to Tweeting to Inform learning Space Development via OLDaily and followed up with a visit to Kate Trgovac‘s blog). There is great humour. (Just recieved a Creative Nonfiction tweet on Writing it Short.)

Blogging after shorter writing episodes is a treat. Writing about writing is a great slow blogging possibility to be open. Todd Sieling explored these ideas earlier this year.

Oh and … I realise that I must return to How to write articles and essays quickly and expertly (2006) too if I am to continue exploring witing!

Memories and Overcoming Live Skype Problems

I was up early this morning hoping to have a Skype link up with some friends in North Wales at a Reunion dinner. Synchronising time after a clock change made some fascinating maths!

I had two Macs running and had tested cameras and microphones a number of times. A test run earlier in the day with my host at the dinner had worked well although there was some latency.

dinner

Given the live nature of the event I was keen to have an alternative plan. Once we started testing the link for the live feed it was clear we had a number of problems.

exchange

I had not prepared a message in advance but as soon as the difficulties occurred I started looking for alternatives. Given I live in rural New South Wales some of the bandwidth available to me limited the options I had.

1. On one of my computers I had the old iMovie version.

2. I used the iSight camera to record the picture and a USB microphone for sound.

3. I exported the video as a .mov file to CD format for a file size of 5Mb. (A one minute message)

4. I tried to share the file via Skype (the first time I had tried this) but the file share failed.

5. My host recommended YouSendit.com but I was unsure about the sign up requirements.

6. I decided to use my Google video account to share the file and despite the bandwidth problems I have the upload and processing occurred very quickly.

7. I posted the link on our Skype chat and my hosts at the Reunion had the option of playing the video.

I am delighted that I found a way around the difficulties we experienced. The Reunion was very important to me. I have never attended a reunion of any kind but the opportunities to meet friends from 35 years ago made me think about flying from Australia to attend.

My video indicates why this was important.

Ironically the game the Reunion was celebrating was the start of my professional involvement in sport and I have spent the last thirty years working with educational technology in sport. It was fascinating that an early morning in Mongarlowe could trigger such memories.