Monday, June 25, 2012

On a musical high

My friend Emily said tonight that I am on a "musical high" and I think she is right. For me one of the most exciting things about music to me is new music. I love hearing newer music (not that I am hater towards old music) but I am so enamored with the compositional process and composers in general that it would be natural that I would be so fascinated by compositions in general. Tonight I unexpectedly had my world rocked. I attend the Silicon Valley Music Festival. It was a free concert of new music composed in the last 50 years and included some truly wonderful works. I found out about the concert via facebook from my friend Jason McChristian who is a composer here in San Jose. We have had the pleasure of working together at the Summer in the City Music Camp that I co-direct the past couple of summers. While we have not formally started working together outside of the camp, I had the opportunity to hear a composition he wrote for brass quintet performed by the Nautilus Brass Quintet at our summer camp last week. Jason also wrote a delightful composition for our double reed ensemble.

What a treat it was to hear his work for solo flute entitled "dashed a tone of light rose." After hearing so much of his music lately I am so excited to begin working with him and bringing in a true composer in residence into my music program. It reminds me of the days of the "Contemporary Music Project" one of my favorite projects in music education's history and if I had unlimited resources it would be one of the things I would bring back to music classrooms across America.

But I of the things that I was told at the MSU Symposium (see my blog, a week in review) was that I needed to go just sit and listen to fantastic music and experience what is going on in the vibrant community that I live in. Between the MSU Sympsosium, the work we did last week with the Nautilus Brass Quintet at our Summer in the City Music Camp, and from the conversations that I had with campers was the importance of chamber music.

So I went to a new music concert that included solo and small chamber works. And it rocked my world. Not only was experiencing Jason's piece amazing and exciting BUT I found a new composer whose music was epic. His name is Andy Akiho and they performed his pieces Murasaki (Purple) and Kirro (Yellow). On Murasaki he performed on "steel pan" (one steel drum). I was skeptical when I saw it listed in the program but it was no joke. He is playing with the 4 mallet Stevens grip and he makes that pan sound like a hybrid between harp, celeste, and muted piano. It was a sound like none other and I was memorized.

His final piece....modern and hip. I love music that is fresh and new to my ears. Music that makes me think. Music that combines modern sounds. This concert was simply outstanding. I made some connections with some folks running the festival and have some big ideas for summer music experiences next summer and look forward to seeing if I can work them out for the students as I think there could be a great collaboration between Summer in the City and the Silicon Valley Music Festival. If you are local and you get a chance please consider going out and supporting them. If you aren't local then the performances are being recorded and will be video cast. To Ray Furuta, the student from Independence High School who is out in New York studying and on the way to making it big...what an amazing gift this music festival is to the community you came from. Thank-you for sharing your music and your friends with us!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Week in Review

It has been pointed out to me by a few readers (which it still shocks me that I have readers) that I have been absent. Every so often you have "one of those school years" where things get more overwhelming than usual. For me I felt like one afternoon I looked up from my desk and it was summer break.

So here I am ending my second week of summer vacation and I find myself at a conducting symposium at Michigan State University. This is my first symposium and it was definitely time to tackle my fear and in the words of one of the symposium clinicians "jump off the deep end". And so I did.

I was nervous. When I get nervous and I mean really nervous my confidence goes out the window. It starts to affect my psyche and then causes me to not be my best self. Day 1 I was a mess. I couldn't keep my head on enough to really even start the piece.

Thank God I got my head back on after that. Part of that is the genuine spirit of the folks running the symposium. For the first time in a long time they truly got the best out of me. It wasn't easy but I was in a supportive place to experiment, start to break bad habits and truly start to take my conducting to the next level.

And there is a clear symbiotic relationship between these changes I am making in my conducting and it's impact on my students music making. I need to let them go and have them be responsible for their music making. That equates to less is more in my conducting. I can't make them play more in time by beating a bigger pattern. If they can't play in time then I need to be their musical coach (like a chamber music coach, which was a big philosophical idea of music making this week) and coach them on how to play more in time. I need to be facilitating their musical selves.

So I am excited to take a step back and re-work my conducting fundamentals this year. In doing do its time to continue focus more on my physical health and deal with my shoulder problems.

I then will be making a shift in the philosophy of music making in my classroom this coming year. Evolving my philosophies. In many ways reflecting on nine years of teaching and what our next journey will be. It's a pretty neat place to be.

How is it thrifty? Because practice is free. Taking the time to focus on my conducting basics requires time, mirror & baton. Sure I came to a fancy symposium but I don't need to go home & get expensive conducting lessons or some fancy method book for my kids.

What my program needs is for me to carve more time for the most important things. I am going to simply see more music, surround myself with more musical experiences and bring that to the classroom.

And this is the most excited I have been to try new things and develop my personal musical self since I left grad school.

Thanks Michigan State for a great time. You got me to jump in the deep end, rethink my priorities in my life & will change my students in ways I had not imagined.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Part time elementary music gig Job Posting

The Indigo Band, STHS Playathon March 2012
Wow I sure have been absent from the blogging this year....I must have been busy being a thrifty band director this school year or something (hahahaha). Well summer is here which means I will be back at the blogging thing. Today I am using the blog to share information. Feel free to share with folks you might know who might be interested.

As you may or may not know I took on ANOTHER gig this year in addition to being the Director of Bands at Santa Teresa HS AND the Summer in the City Camp Director at San Jose State University. My other gig is being the band director to 17 charming beginning band students at the Indigo Program, a K-8 school of choice in my elementary feeder district just blocks from my campus at STHS.

And it has been amazing year! But enough about me...the title of this blog says "part time elementary music gig job posting".

Indigo is a rare school in many ways. The school and the PTA believe in offering music and art to the students and pay for this. So we are looking for someone to teach K-5 music. You only see the students once a week and you are paid hourly (one rate for credential one rate for non-credentialed). You have a classroom and LOTS of supplies (Orff instruments, drums etc). You are supported for your creativity and flexibility. The program has TONS of room for growth. We are looking for someone to be a team player in our positive discipline/whole child curriculum model (which for me has truly been a joy to embrace) and I have loved every minute of working with these teachers and students. We do want someone to bring structured curriculum with the use of our Orff instruments, singing, teaching of basic music skills (music notation etc). Below is the info I received from the school site. If you know someone who lives in the South Bay Area who might be interested in the gig forward this to them. If you are interested CONTACT ME!!!

We are looking for someone to teach 9 classes from kinder to fifth at 5 ¾ hours per week of direct instruction.  Each class gets 30 minutes of prep time to set up and take down.  Non-credential rate is $25 per hour credential rate is $42 per hour.  Hours will between 8:30 AM and 11:50 AM.
Music Vision Statement
Music at Indigo will provide your student with a variety of constructivist experiences including exposure to different rhythm instruments, movement, music styles and cultures.  The Orff method of music instruction is our primary methodology. This is integrated with classroom instruction using whole, small, and cooperative learning groups.  Students are encouraged to support each other in their effort to explore and create in a student lead, teacher supported environment.  Your child is encouraged to participate in public, community performances.