Even though I mainly wear composer or flutist hats these days, I've done various teaching gigs since I graduated from UMass Amherst with a Music Education degree. Music pedagogy is a subject that remains near and dear to my heart. Here are the various fruits of my labors in this area:
the flute book.
The main impetus for writing a flute-book-as-blog was to fill in a gap I saw in teaching people to read music: there aren't enough easy folk tunes. And when I say easy, I mean really easy — using only, say, do re mi and whole, half, and quarter notes and rests. You might think, "Well how many tunes does that take before you get it and can move on?" More than you might think. And every student is different. So I started putting this together to provide more materials per musical concept. Right now, it's on a bit of a hiatus as I do three things: a) finish my dissertation which has nothing to do with music pedagogy; b) write more tunes; c) go through a slew of existing tunes to classify them for my devious pedagogical plans (mwah ha ha!). I don't know when I'll get back into this. In the meantime, there's a good amount to get you started.
beginning music reading
Here is volume 1 of the aforementioned really easy pedagogical songs.
Volume 1 uses: only whole, half, quarter notes and rests; only 4/, 3/, and 2/4; only drmsld' and its subsets; only major pentatonic in C, F, or G; no ties or dots; no initial anacrusis.
How to beatbox and play flute at the same time = A Fluteboxing Workbook.
thoughts on improvisation:
• how to improvise tonal music in any style: jazz, classical, emo, whatever. i.e., what to do with all those pesky scales you've been learning.
• a jazz improvisation primer I made up for some sixth graders I was teaching back in 1997.
• a jazz improvisation primer based on notes from a jazz history class I took at The Boston Conservatory with Jeff Stout back in 2000.
• a free improvisation primer I made up just cuz back in 2003.
• a real basic primer on comping bass lines, geared towards folks who know their chords and scales already.
Also see the open instrumentation pieces I have on my composition page; most of those also contain opportunities to improvise that should be comfortable for those new to improvisation.
• A unit on beginning songwriting, using only whole, half, and quarter notes and rests, and do, re, and mi in C, F, or G. I used this for an 11th grade general music class at Brooklyn International High School, a school that serves New York City's recent immigrant population.
• Two other ways to look at songwriting, that are less notation driven.
Sometimes you just need something big and simple to get the point across.
• what is a canon?
• what is call and response?
• what is hocket?
• what is ostinato?
• what is form?
• what is texture?
• what is pitch?
• what is timbre?
• what is rhythm?
• what are some good beginning guitar chords that will sound good together?
• what are some piano chords that will sound good with band instruments?
• how can I rock out if I don't play drum set?
• what constitutes good behavior in music class?
For beginning band directors, a helpful set of how-to sheets for basic band instruments.
A one-sheet detailing how to slur on trombone in three complicated steps.
early childhood music ed
A song I spontaneously made up in a kindergarten class to practice moving, matching, and freezing. It was inspired by an article I read in which a child development expert said, "If a boy is not moving, he's thinking about moving."
ideas about practicing
a manifesto on practicing...
scales and chords
If you need new ideas about how to practice scales and what scales to practice, here's a rather exhaustive scale workbook.
If you want to simply know the letter names for the notes in the major and natural minor scales, here's a nice list; Pentatonic? Right here.
If you play guitar, bass, banjo, or mandolin, I got scale tabs for you.
Two giant chord charts, one for piano and one for guitar. These are diatonic chords in major and minor (in minor, I do make one non-diatonic substitute, using the true V7 dominant instead of the diatonic minor v; otherwise, I stick to natural minor for simplicity's sake), arranged from left to right in the circle of fourths. Piano chords are for one hand, so that one can use the other hand for playing melodies and soloing. Not being a pianist or a guitarist, I am certainly open to gentle and reasonable suggestions at the email below.
Chord charts are often arranged alphabetically, which makes the chords easy to find. I wanted one arranged by keys in order to practice them in a musical context. If a student knows a song is in, say, Bb major, then the chords most common to Bb major are right there. These are certainly not the only way to play these chords, or the only chords that sound good together; yet these charts should work as a source that will help a beginner become more advanced.
Folks who play other instruments can simply play the arpeggios on their instrument, reading from left to right. I find going up two chords, then dropping down an octave makes for a nice sounding exercise. I discuss this idea as a preparation for jazz improvisation (or any improvisation) here.
Four classes I taught at Brooklyn College:
20th Century Music History
a teaching philosophy of my very own!
a teaching résumé!
andrea at reloadsanear dot com