Monthly Archives: September 2012

Undervalued, Unappreciated, and Misunderstood

via http://www.simplycyfair.com/great-gift-ideas-for-teachers.aspx

I am very dedicated to what I do. I put so much of myself into my job. I don’t clock in or clock out. I am always a teacher. And I don’t complain about it.

My family, friends, and even neighbours know how much work and effort I put into my job. It seems to me, however, that the general public does not.

I feel undervalued, unappreciated, and misunderstood.

I’m not sure why elementary school teachers are viewed with such disdain. High school teachers and university professors seem to get a lot more respect. In my humble opinion, we are equals. We all educators and not one should be placed above or beneath another.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about any of this. I wouldn’t feel that I had to prove myself to anyone other than my students. I would just continue working as hard as I always do. But to be honest, my profession is under attack and I feel that I need to stand up and say something.

The government and the media reporting on this issue seem to make it all about money. They want teachers to take a two year pay-freeze. That sounds reasonable enough and I’d be willing to take the hit if we were in such dire need of saving money. But, it’s not that simple. So much money is wasted in the education system and I’d like to suggest that none of it is on teachers’ salaries.

We are professionals. We are well educated in ways to best  reach our students and we constantly upgrade our skills through the use of additional courses (which we pay for out of our own pocket.) We attend workshops to help sharpen our craft. We read the latest research and articles and apply that knowledge in our classroom.

I keep seeing that full-day-kindergarten commercial on TV. It’s a great program and I am thankful that it has been added, but it does cost a lot of money. The constant advertising for the program also needs to be considered.

There are some great ways we can save money when it comes to public education. There are levels and levels of middle management that could be cut out. I’m not sure that every city needs to have its own school board. We could probably twin cities up and streamline how things are done at the office and bureaucratic level.

Teachers are worth every penny we pay them. Don’t we want to attract the best of the best to care for our children on a daily basis? We shouldn’t treat them like second class citizens. It’s about time we show them some appreciation, show them that they are valued, and do our best to understand all that they do for our children.

Know Your History 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause (Part 2)

On January 12th, 2010 Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake. The natural disaster left the already poor and impoverished country in an even more dire state. One month later, wheels were set in motion to mobilize some of Canada’s most popular musicians to help record a benefit track for the cause. As such, Young Artists for Haiti was born with over 50 musicians collaborating on one song.
The song was inspirational to begin with but the star-studded remake seemed to make it sparkle even more. There’s just something about that chorus of voices that is breathtakingly beautiful. That’s the power of music. Not only can it unite artists for a project, it can captivate an entire country and make the world a little smaller. The single debuted at number one and went on to raise a lot of money to help the citizens of Haiti in their time of need.
That song originally appeared on K’naan’s album “Troubadour” and the positive message behind the lyrics combined with an incredible catchy chorus made “Waving Flag” an instant hit and an obvious choice for a star-studded remake for charity.
Gathering artists together to create super-posse cuts wasn’t something new. It had its birth in 1984 with “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in the U.K. That track was recorded to help raise awareness about famine in Ethiopia while raising money at the same time, to hopefully alleviate the problem. That was the goal of Bob Geldof and he continued to raise money and support for the cause not only through the release of the charity single but through the formation of Live Aid and huge concerts. While K’naan showed us that rappers could also unite for a cause, this wasn’t the first rap track to do so.
Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. If you missed our episode last month, we focused our show on songs that have brought rappers together, united for specific causes. We looked at songs such as Self-Destruction, We’re All in the Same Gang, and Heal Yourself.

If you missed it, go to TheWordIsBond.com and download the podcast for free and don’t forget to check the transcripts at ChaseMarch.com. You can also catch us each and every week on the radio at DOPEfm.ca. That’s where it all began. Much props to Daddy J, the founder of the program, a great deejay and a close, personal friend.

Without further ado, let’s continue our coverage of Hip-Hop United for a Cause. This is Know Your History: Episode 29. You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player at the bottom of this post, or just keep reading.

I want to look at three specific songs today, starting with this one. This song is from “Hip-Hop for Respect” and it features Talib Kweli, Kool G. Rap, Rah Digga, Sporty Thieves, Mos Def, Common, Pharaohe Monch, and Posdnous of De La Soul. It’s called “One Four Love.”

That was “One Four Love Part 1” from the album “Hip-Hop For Respect.” It was released on Rawkus Records in the year 2000 and every single artist on the project donated their time, voices, and name to the cause.
The liner-notes in the CD package, unfold to display a painting by Evan Bishop and Kofi Taha. The image shows the face of a young, black male amongst the backdrop of an American flag. There are two police officers with their guns drawn in the middle of the picture. Two more officers at the bottom of the frame also have their guns trained on the youth, one has a rather sinister look on his face as well.
A closer examination of the flag shows the stars in the corner of the flag are, in fact, bullet holes, and the stripes are trails of blood. It is a very powerful image that speaks just as powerfully as the music we just heard. Underneath the image, Talib Kweli is quoted as saying, “Police Brutailiy is not a black issue, it is a violation of the rights of human beings everywhere.”
On the inside cover, he explains the musical project in more detail, “It seemed as if our elders had some sort of training in how to respond to injustice, and they already took action. What was the hip-hop generation going to do? We were going to make a record that demanded respect, hip-hop style.”
Kweli continues, “When we talk about defending ourselves and direct our energy towards the real enemy, not each other, then there is always a hesitation on the part of these corporations that get rich off our culture to put out positive music. Everyone wants to stay away, it’s too political. Not only do they help create a climate that shows artists to have no responsibility to their communities, but they make a concerted effort to shut down anything that promotes self-knowledge over self-destruction.”
We talked about that topic a lot in the last episode and specifically the Krs-One led track “Self Destruction” for the Stop the Violence Movement. But what about when nature unleashes its wrath and causes horrible destruction? What can rappers do to help that situation?
We found out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In August 2005, the storm slammed into New Orleans, Louisiana. The levees that were supposed to keep the water back failed and the flooding that ensued wiped out entire neighbourhoods, left many people without a home, and caused almost two-thousand deaths.
Tons of people responded to the relief efforts in any way that they could. The situation was tragic and touched the entire nation. Several musicians held fundraising concerts and got together to release charity singles. Warren G, Ice Cube, B-Real, and Snoop Dogg, got together to make this song, a remix of “Get U Down” to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
That was the “Get You Down” remix from a group of West Coast rap artists who got together to raise money for the relief efforts and the rebuilding of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The track featured Warren G, Ice Cube, B-Real, and Snoop Dogg and it was only one of such songs. Many musicians lent their star power and talents to record charity singles and albums. There were numerous fundraising concerts as well.

I love what Snoop Dogg has to say in this track. He talks about some of the programs that rappers have started in their own communities including the football league he started. He created The Snoop Youth FootballLeague, a non-profit organization to provide the opportunity for inner-city children to participate in youth football. The league is open to any children between the ages of 5 and 12 and stresses the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship, discipline, and self-respect. It’s been going strong ever since it’s 2005 debut and it is amazing to see such a great organization started by a rapper.
There are all sorts of great things that rappers and musicians do for their communities. We don’t always hear about all of these great programs in the general public or on the news, but they are there. I think giving back is a natural inclination that when given the time, money, and opportunity, many people would jump at.  
It really is amazing how many projects and fundraising efforts are made by schools, organizations, church groups, and individuals following a natural disaster. I was impressed with the sheer amount of projects and the outpouring of support that had many people stepping up to contribute to the relief efforts in Louisiana.
You’re listening to Know Your History: Episode 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause. We needed two episodes to cover this topic and we still can’t get to every single project that had rappers coming together, united for a cause. A lot of people assume that hip-hop can’t do any good. They assume it is vile, violent, and of little value. I hope those people have been listening to these last two shows. 
It doesn’t even matter what language you speak. We are human and when we see tragedy or injustice we are often compelled to do something to help. We can write about it, make songs about it, and record radio shows on whatever topic has touched our hearts.
When I was doing my research for this show, I came across a track called “The Conspiracy for Peace.” At least, that is the English translation. I don’t understand any of the words in this song but I really don’t need to. The title pretty much speaks for itself. That, plus over two-dozen artists from Medellin and the surrounding areas of Columbia, South America.
It’s not often that foreign hip-hop gets played over here. We try our best at DOPEfm to highlight global hip-hop and The Word is Bond is all about Uniting Hip-Hop’s Underground, so it’s only fitting that we play this track tonight. This is “The Conspiracy for Peace” on today’s edition of Know Your History: Hip-Hop United For a Cause. And we’ll be right back to talk more about the track. Stay tuned.
That song professes a message of peace, unity, harmony, respect and good energy. The English translation for it is “The Conspiracy for Peace” and it was done by a group of artists from Columbia. I don’t think I’ve listened to any hip-hop from South America prior to discovering this track during my research for this show. It’s clear that they have a burgeoning hip-hop scene over there. The music video for that track is very well done. It was produced with the assistance of the local television station, Telemedellin.
Listening to hip-hop in a different language is an interesting experience. We can hear how similar the songs are to what we listen to. We can hear the energy and enthusiasm in the rappers’ voices and sometimes we can even hear the message behind the lyrics we might not even understand.
Here are a few of those lyrics right now, thanks to Google Translate, “Please do not ask for war / ask me for peace / I do not want to go to the cemetery / to visit many more / Everything we have seen g / has consequences.” But by far, my favourite lyric of the song is,
“This is the conspiracy / Rappers united in one mission that is the conspiracy / The proposal of hip hop / Nationwide honesty and respect for peace in concrete / All rappers together on the street”
That’s what it is all about right there. Rappers coming together in a community to affect real change, whether it is financially through the use of charity singles and fundraising concerts, or through the power of the message in the music. Hip-Hop has power. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hip-hop has the power to unite listeners, artists, and communities.
You’ve been listening to Know Your History on DOPEfm and TheWord is Bond. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Drop a line and let us know what you think of our programming.

I’ll see you next week here on the podcast and next month for another edition of Know Your History. This is Chase March signing off, saying, “You Better Know Your History.”

Download Know Your History: Episode 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause (Part 2)

MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

Teaching Tip – Differentiated Instruction

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is all about differentiated instruction. It will include tips about how to reach each and every child in our classrooms, how to tailor our instruction to meet the very different needs of our individual students.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with differentiated instruction.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page and, specifically, my Differentiated Instruction Board for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Guided Reading
How To Fit In Small Group Instruction
Small Group Instruction
The Write Start: Nurturing Writing at Every Stage
Throw Out Your Rigid Classroom Schedule and Your Students Will Work Harder

Life Unexpected (Great Television)

I always borrow DVDs from the library and I’d seen this one on the shelf several times. I had no idea what the show was about, simply because of the way the library had packaged the DVD set, but something about it called to me. I just didn’t have the time to watch it until this summer. But I am so glad I did.

Life Unexpected was a pleasant surprise for me. It was brilliantly written and I fell in love with the characters, especially the main character, Lux Cassidy.

Britt Robertson plays 15 year old Lux, and she unexpectedly shows up at her father’s one day. He had no idea that he even had a daughter. Of course, she wasn’t planning on sticking around. She just wanted his signature so she could apply for emancipation and move out of foster care.

Things didn’t go as expected for Lux either. She ended up getting released into the care of her birth parents. One of whom was a hopeless bachelor, and the other a career-driven loner of sorts. They hadn’t seen each other since the winter formal in high school when Lux was accidentally conceived. Her mother gave her up for adoption but due to a lot of different circumstances, she never did find a good home. The writing makes this all come alive, even though it may sound a little complicated.

It’s a great series, with wonderful writing and brilliant chemistry between the actors. I really was quite invested in the show and am sad now that I’ve worked my way through all 26 episodes and the bonus features as well.

As I watched the DVD, I didn’t realize that this six disc set encompassed the entire series. Life Unexpected originally aired in 2010 and ran for two seasons on the CW Network and I am so thankful that the series finale was able to wrap up the major story lines and give a sense of closure to the whole show. It makes this DVD collection all the more valuable to me. I want to buy it now.

Angus McKenzie Trail (St. Thomas, Ontario)

I collect trail runs. I’m always looking for a nice place to go for a jog. Sometimes I have no idea what the trial is going to be like, how long it is, or where exactly it leads.

Today, I laced up my shoes, strapped my camera to my wrist, and decided to explore this brand new trail. It’s called the Angus McKenzie Trail in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

It starts with a narrow trail into a small forested area.

A small river runs along this short trail,

and it makes its way around this marsh. At first, I thought this was all the trail had to offer and I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to run at least 5 kilometers.

I decided to follow this trail even though it seemed to just lead to the road and another suburb. . .

but I was surprised when the trail continued on the other side of the street and followed along the edge of Lake Margaret.

It’s pretty cool to see that this is a protected natural area.

This run was more in the open than I was expecting but it was really nice to be able to run along a small creek, a bog, and a lake.

I could have kept running along the trail. I had a feeling that it might even connect up to Pinafore Park. It was a hot day and after running for 17 minutes, I had to turn around and make my way back to the car.

More Photographic Tours

Springbank Skatepark (London, Ontario)

I’ve been collecting trails for a while now on this blog. Whenever I run a new one, I take a few pictures and write about it. I’ve decided to do the same thing with my favourite skateboarding spots.

Today we are going to explore the latest skatepark to be built in London, Ontario, Canada. It’s located at Springbank Park in the small township of Byron.

There is a nicely shaped quarter pipe. A lot of parks I go to, the quarter pipe is too steep or shallow. This one is perfect.

There is also a flat elevated ramp on the other side of this small park.

This pyramid is close enough to the flat I showed you in the picture above and the concrete here is so smooth that my board felt like it was gliding effortlessly between then ramps. I didn’t even have to pump.

There is a stair obstacle, a rail, and several grinds in the park.

It’s a small park, primarily designed for single runs. But it’s nicely built. The concrete is super-smooth and it’s a fun place to hang out with friends.

Want to see more skateparks?

The Write Start: Nurture Writing at Every Stage

I don’t often take my own advice of taking the summer off from teaching. I usually find something to read at the very least. I think it’s important to develop professionally and books are a great way to do so.

I found this book over the summer at the library. I wasn’t looking for a teaching resource, but it kind of jumped out at me.

The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy.

There are some great ideas here that will get children writing. The book is aimed at both teachers and parents with ideas that would work equally well at home or in the classroom.

Hallissy also differentiates each activity to include preschool children all the way up to elementary school students. I like her four stages of development that make each activity accessible to all. She calls them “Scribblers” , “Spellers” , “Storytellers”, and “Scholars.”

One strategy she proposes is called “Treasure Hunt.” This activity takes a bit of pre-planning from the teacher or parent. It involves setting up a small scavenger hunt of sorts. To do so, start at the point that you want the students to end up at and then write a clue to help them get there. Continue doing this until you have a good sized hunt for the kids.

The best part about this activity is how Hallissy differentiates it for learners of all stages. For the scribblers, you can use picture clues. For the spellers, you can use one word clues. For the storytellers, you can write sentence clues. And for the scholars, you can write the clues in riddles.

Once the students are familiar with the activity, they can then create their own “Treasure Hunt” for the parent, teacher, or other students to solve. I so love this idea.

I also like how her strategies get students working with writing in unique ways. The activities are laid out simply and are quite easy to implement.

More Good Reads

Avid Reader . . . Still Collecting Book Experiences

I’ve never kept a reading log before. I always thought that it missed the point. I read because I enjoy it, because it’s a great way to experience stories, because I love the written word, and because I am a writer and appreciate the craft.

This year, I decided to at least keep track of everything I read and so far I have blogged about every single title.

I have read 42 books already in 2012 and I am not slowing down. You can find the complete list here with links to each particular book. I will continue to update it as well.

Here are the latest titles I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

This book tells the story of a sex-ed teacher who is faced with a big dilemma. She believes that the kids in her high school deserve to know about sex in a real, open, and honest way. She’s been teaching the program for several years but is faced with a new curriculum that stresses abstinence only. She stays on as the health teacher despite her objections to the new program.

I liked the idea for the novel and I enjoyed most of it, but it just petered out at the end. The main issues for the characters never got resolved and I felt kind of cheated because of it. I hate when a novel doesn’t have a powerful ending that ties things all together.

That being said, I understand that in real-life, our stories rarely get wrapped up in neat ways. This story felt real and I could identify with some of the characters, but I still want my literature to end nicely. Or to at least have something more poetic at the end.

Green Lantern Corp – The Weaponer by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkam, Batt

The Weaponer forged the first yellow power ring for Sinestro but now he has developed an even greater weapon and is bent on revenge. Meanwhile, the truce between the Green Lantern Corp and the Sinestro Corp is about to be put to the test. If the yellow and green ring-wielders fight each other without rings, the truce still holds, right?

Lanterns without their rings? A huge battle against an opponent with a very powerful weapon. The excitement keeps building in the Green Lantern books. This is the ninth trade paperback I’ve read this years and I must say that I am really enjoying the series.

Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike DeCarlo

I hadn’t read this book since it came out in 1988. It was really cool to take it out of the plastic cover. It had the unmistakable comic book smell. The newsprint pages and the lightly coloured pages are a stark contrast to today’s comics.

In this story, Robin actually dies at the hands of The Joker. The scene was quite brutal for the time and it still is. There have been several Robins over the course of the comic, but this second lad to take on the role wasn’t universally liked by all of the readers. DC Comics actually had readers vote on whether or not Jason Todd should live or die in this story.

2012 Reads – My Ever-Growing List

There are over three dozen books in this list so far and I keep adding to it all the time. I wonder how many titles I will have read by the end of the year?

Make Mistakes and Roll With Them

“Weren’t you worried you would make a mistake?” I ask.


“Made two of ‘em. No one seemed to notice.”

I nearly choke on my carrot stick. “What? You made two mistakes?”

“Acting’s like real life, Mon. You make a mistake, you keep going. Everyone adapts. It’s no big deal.” He hurries to say hello to Mr. Jurzek while I stand in the wake of his words.

He made a mistake in front of hundreds of people and he doesn’t care? Better yet, no one even noticed? How is it possible that Dad got to me more as a fictional character that he ever has as a father? Maybe he should concentrate on what he loves to do rather than orchestrating lame heart-to-heart talks in pet stores. I smile across the room at him and he gives a goofy wave back. I guess he’s just muddling through like the rest of us.”
– from Janet Tashjian’s novel “Multiple Choice” pg 164-165

What an inspirational passage!

Making mistakes is a part of life. You can’t be worried about making one. And if you do make a mistake, you need to just keep going. You can let a small error stop you in your tracks. Obsessing over your past mistakes also doesn’t erase them, doesn’t fix them, and just expends needless energy.

I try to encourage my students to make mistakes and to learn from them. There is no way to do something perfect the first time. Everything we do is a learning experience. And sometimes the mistakes themselves can fade away into the performance as long as you keep rolling with it. That is one of the messages I got from this book.

I love how you can learn things through fiction. I hope you have found this passage as inspiring as I have. 

Too Many Things, a Doom, and Finally a Daredevil

I saw these gumball superhero figures that looked really cool.

I put my two-dollar coin into the machine and hoped that I would get a Daredevil to add to my collection. 

I got Thing from the Fantastic Four instead. I thought I’d try again. I put another twoonie in the machine and got another Thing.

On three separate occasions, I put more money into one of these machines just hoping to get a Daredevil.

As you can see from this picture, all in all I got five Things, one Hulk, one Dr. Doom, and finally, yes finally a Daredevil.

I also found this cool eraser at the comic book store and just had to pick it up.

Want to see more of my Daredevil collection?

Teaching Tip – Financial Literacy

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is all about financial literacy. It’s important that we teach our students about money and not just in math class. They need to understand about taxes, interest, debt, and how to manage money responsibly.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with financial literacy.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page and, specifically, my Financial Literacy Board for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Classroom Economy 
Dollar Stores
The What-If Activity
Using Play Money to teach Responsibility

A Photographic Tour of Coves Trail

It’s time for another edition of my photographic tours!

Today, we will be exploring The Coves Swallowtail Grove.

Swallowtail Grove is a butterfly garden containing native plants required by butterflies for food and habitat – there is an interpretive sign on site. The grove is accessible from a mowed path through Greenway Park or an extension to the paved Thames Valley Parkway Trail. (from Friends of the Coves)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this trail, but I laced on my cross-trainers and started what I hoped would be a great trail run. I didn’t know where this trail led or how long it would be going through a natural area, but I was happy to be exploring and running on such a beautiful day.

It turned out that this trail was only about 500 meters long.

It opened up to this grassy area with a nicely cut and maintained grass trail . . .

And then it connected to the paved Thames Valley Parkway trail.

I have run sections of this trail before but never this specific portion of it.

I really like how the trail follows along the Thames River.

You can also learn a bit about history along the way.

The “Victoria” Boat Disaster 1881

On May 24, 1881, one of Canada’s worst marine disasters occurred on the Thames River near this site. The “Victoria”, a small, double-decked stern-wheeler commanded by Captain Donald Rankin, was conducting holiday excursion trips between London and Springbank Park. On a return trip to London the boat was dangerously overcrowded with more than 600 passengers. Oblivious of the danger, the crowd repeatedly shifted from side to side, resulting in flooding and a precarious rocking motion of the boat. It finally heeled over and the boiler crashed through the bulworks, bringing the upper-deck and large awning down upon the struggling crowd. The “Victoria” sank immediately and at least 182 people, the majority from London, lost their lives.

As I got further down the trail, I recognized exactly where I was. I was on the Terry Fox Parkway portion of the Springbank Park trail.

I looped around the leash-free dog park, passed a few soccer fields and a community playground, and then made my way back to where I had started.

I took a side trail on the way back. It’s really hard to see here because not only is the trail very narrow, but it’s mostly over-grown.

There were a few places where the footing wasn’t very good and I was a little worried I’d trip and tumble into the Thames River. But I didn’t.

This little trail looped right up to the start of the Terry Fox Parkway at Horton Road.

All in all, I ran about 6 kilometers. I had a really nice run and I hope that you’ve enjoyed coming along with me for this photographic tour.

More Photographic Tours

Stopped by a Train (But Admiring the View)

I don’t always have my camera in the car when I get stopped by a train, but I had just gone for a trail run and some great graffiti kept zooming passed me, so I grabbed my camera and took a few shots.

I don’t think train graffiti really harms anyone. In fact, I think it makes getting stopped by a train a little less annoying.

There were some huge pieces zooming by me today. This one is rather plain but it must’ve taken the artist some time to do.

This one looks a little faded but really nice. I like the blending of the colours, the shadowing, and how it takes up the entire car.

Getting stopped by a train isn’t that annoying when there are great pieces of art to enjoy.

Long live train graffiti!

Ta-Ku Interview and Mixset

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. We have a very special guest today on the program, all the way from Perth, Australia. Welcome to DOPEfm and The Word is Bond Podcast, Ta-ku.”

Ta-Ku: “Thanks for having me.”

Chase: “It’s definitely nice to get in touch with you. I am sure a lot of people have heard of you, but if not, can you give us a little description of who you are and where you are coming from?”

Ta-Ku: “My name is Ta-Ku, from Perth, Australia, born and raised. I’ve been making beats for about seven years now. I first started in hip-hop production and with the whole beat scene up and running now, I’ve kind of branched out to some electronic stuff as well.

I’ve been featured on a few compilations, releases around the world. I’ve worked with many artists, but just concentrating on my instrumental work now and representing a few labels at the moment, HW&W out in LA, Project Mooncircle out in Germany, Soulection out in San Diego, and Paperchain out in Perth. So, yeah, it’s a good year.”

Chase: “That’s amazing, so you’re doing production for four different labels right now?”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, the labels have been pretty amazing because each is a little different with what kind of music they want from me. It gives me a chance to experiment and be creative.”

Chase: “What made you get in to music production?”

Ta-Ku: “To tell you the truth, I first started deejaying. Well, I say deejyaing, but I guess I was trying to deejay. Mainly collecting records made me listen to more samples. And listening to people like Dilla, Pete Rock, and Premo made me want to have a go at trying to sample a record. It really just sort of evolved from that. Trying to be a DJ, I guess, is how it started.”

Chase: “It’s actually really cool to see more people becoming DJs and getting started with production. It seems like it is now more of an arena than it was in the past. Everyone wanted to be a rapper back when I was coming up and trying to make a name for myself, but now it seems like there are a lot of DJs and producers out there.”

Ta-Ku: “Everyone thinks being a DJ is easy because when you see a DJ, it doesn’t look like they are really doing too much. I was more into the turntalblism, that stuff is really hard. I think beat-making is a lot easier than being a turntablist.”

Chase: “Yeah, I think so too. I used to actually make beats a long time ago, on an Akai X7000. I know some people don’t like to give away their secrets, but would you mind telling us what gear you use?”

Ta-Ku: “It’s pretty minimal. I’m still using software like Fruity Loops and Cool Edit Pro to cut samples but when it gets to synths, I use a lot of soft synths and VSTs. I got a micro Korg that I use quite extensively. That’s pretty much what my set-up is, and it works for me. It’s simple but it’s effective.”

Chase: “That’s cool. I don’t think you necessarily have to have a particular piece of gear, as long as you can make it work. That’s the musicianship, being able to make whatever you have sing.”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, definitely. There are guys out there with great technical abilities who know how to use amazing equipment, and that is just as effective as someone who cuts a record up and chucks it into a sequencer. No matter what you use, whether it is simple or whether it is quite technical, it’s what you really do with what you have, the end product, that really makes it shine.”

Chase: “I definitely agree with that. So you are going to spin for us now, give us some of your dope beats.”

Ta-Ku: “No doubt.”

Chase: “Excellent. So, you get on the wheels there and on your production tip. Everyone listen to this. Ta-ku is going to spin some tunes for the next 45 minutes and we will definitely be back to talk some more with him right after this.”

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Chase: “All right, you just heard an exclusive mixset from Ta-Ku, excellent producer / beatsmith all the way from Perth, Australia and we are lucky enough to have him on the phone lines.

I know a lot of the music from Australia doesn’t seem to make it’s way to North America, to USA or Canada for some reason.”

Ta-Ku: “The hip-hop music that is made here is really good. It’s different, that’s for sure. I guess because it is different cultures that it doesn’t really translate to the North American hip-hop scene there.

I guess, without offending anyone, I think the Australian hip-hop is slightly behind what people in America or Canada are doing but by no means am I saying it’s less quality. I think, just in regards to the kind of style that Australians are putting out in hip-hop music, it’s just a little bit different to what people are doing in the States.

In saying that, though, there are some really good artists in Australia, both emcees and beatmakers who are really world standard at the moment. And you see them popping up, for instance people like M-Phazes. He’s one of my biggest inspirations. He’s a beatmaker from Melbourne, Australia. He’s world class on the production, so people like that, always peak through.”

Chase: “Yeah, M-Phazes is definitely amazing. You’ve put out quite a few projects and when you do a search for Ta-Ku online, your output is crazy. You have so many releases you can’t even keep track of them all.”

Ta-Ku: “I was actually looking through my Soundcloud the other day and I think I have 103 songs uploaded there and I’ve got about 20-odd releases on my Bandcamp. And I was just thinking that’s too much.”

Chase: “It’s not too much. It’s awesome. I was just listening to you 50 Days for Dilla and you have another project that I looked at for September and it looked like you had a track for every single day of September, you have tracks for 50 Days for Dilla, so is beatmaking something you do every day and you just sometimes tie that in as a theme?”

Ta-Ku: “That’s the thing. Beatmakign for me has always been a hobby even whwen I picked it up. Since I work a 9 to 5, I find it really hard to find time to make beats. And if I don’t set myself a goal or a project to do, my interest in actually making beats weans a little or my creativity dulls down a bit.

September was just an exercise in beatmaking to see how many beats I could make, every day. I only did it for sixteen days in September so I didn’t actually get to complete it because I had some things in my personal life some up.

The 50 Days for Dilla was really an exercise to see if I could set myself a goal to make a Dilla-inspired beat for every day for 50 days. I made it but it wasn’t easy. It was pretty hard. I really had to put work into it every day and night.

But it’s just nice to set yourself a goal and try to keep yourself motivated, especially if you have other commitments in life. You never want to let your creativity die. Being creative is also relaxing and makes life a little bit easier.

50 Days for Dilla was a really fun project. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun.”

Chase: “Yeah, he definitely was a huge talent and it is a shame that the hip-hop world has lost him.”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, and J Dilla’s memory lives on in so many different genres and in so many different musicians around the world. My 50 Days was just as small aspect of how he actually lives on in other people’s music today.”

Chase: “You’ve had a chance to work with quite a few different musicians. Do you have any favourites or any stories, you’d like to share?”

Ta-Ku: “I worked with a few MCs. I’m actually still working with a few MCs because I like to concentrate on doing instrumentals. I guess the biggest story for me was working with Sci High the Prince, who was actually working on G.O.O.D. Music, which is Kanye West’s label.

When I got word that he actually picked a beat of mine for his mixtape, I was pretty geeked and I was really happy they were going to use it. He got in touch with me and sent me a video which showed him in the studio working on the song we did together. That was pretty buzzy for me. It was good to see that group of people tied into Good Music and mainstream hip-hop, to hear my music come out the speakers in the studio, and to know that earlier that day, Sci High said that Kayne was actually in listening to the whole mixtape, made me spin out a lot. It’s amazing what the Internet can do for your music, where it can go, and who can hear it. That’s probably the biggest story I’ve had with collaborations.

Chase: “Speaking of the Internet’s influences there, you should let us know how we can get in touch with you or find out more about Ta-Ku and your amazing beats and the projects that you have going.”

Ta-Ku: “My main spots are Facebook, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp.

Chase: “So what is the main project you are focusing on right now.”

Ta-Ku: “50 Days for Dilla is actually coming out on wax and it is now available on HW&W. I’m very excited to release that on vinyl. Apart from that, I’m just working on my first instrumental LP. I’m just chipping away slowly.”

Chase: “It’s really cool to see people still releasing vinyl. That’s where hip-hop started and to see that culture still come alive. And you like you said before, you started as a DJ and I know you use sample-based production, so you are still big into using vinyl, right?”

Ta-Ku: “As a musician, to have your music on vinyl is the ultimate dream, even audio wise, the quality on vinyl is probably the best you’ll ever get. The sounds are in the grooves on the record. I actually think now the resurgence of people wanting vinyl is coming up a little bit more. It’s always going to have a special place in people’s hearts.”

Chase: “I think it has some staying power, a lot more than some of the other music formats we have.”

Ta-Ku: “Defintely. I mean, CDs are gone. In my opinion, CDs are dead. But with vinyl, it’s just taking that next step where you have the whole sleeve, the whole artwork, 2 LP. It’s more tangable than a CD. It’s something you can open up and hold and collect. And it actually looks cool too.”

Chase: “You online presence is labelled Ta-Ku Got Beats so if there are some MCs out there that want some of your beats, can they buy some from you?”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, definitely. I’ve got a catalogue and normally when MCs hit me up, I send them a catalogue. For those who are serious about collaborating, all they have to do is let me know what beat they want. I’m flexible and always willing to help out starting artists or people who are established. Whatever your budget is, I’m sure we can work something out.”

Chase: “That’s very cool. One of my pet-peeves is all these young up-start artists making mixtapes where that are rapping over someone else’s beats, when there are a lot of producers out there, like yourself, so they could find beats fairly easily enough and do some original stuff.”

Ta-Ku: “That’s my same pet-peeve. I actually had a 13-year-old from New Zealand hit me up. He wrote me a huge email saying this is what he wants to do and his vision. He even said, ‘I’m not sure if you are even going to respond. I was hoping you could hit me up with a beat. I’m only in school now. I have a limited amount of money, but I can work weekends at my dad’s grocery store to help you out.’

I read the whole email and at the end of it, I emailed him back and said, ‘You know what, ‘cause you actually took the effort to get in touch with a beatmaker instead of just jacking someone’s beat, I’ll give you one for free.’ He was pretty geeked about that.

But, you’re right, Chase, Just get off your ass, hop online, and email someone. You don’t have to jack for beats.”

Chase: “That’s such a great story. I’m a teacher so just to hear that a kid reached out to you and that you helped him out is very inspiring. I think hip-hop is such a great art and we should be able to expose the kids to it and have them creating.”

Ta-Ku: “Hip-hop is universal. No matter how old you are, or how young you are, it speaks to everyone. And you could tell it spoke to this kid because of the way he talked about it.

The culture now, the producer is becoming what the deejay was, back in the days. The DJ used to stand behind the MC a lot of the times, but when turntablism got big, they kind of stepped out in front of the MC.

And I think with this beatmaking scene, it’s stressing the importance that whilst you can be a very dope MC, the fact that he saw at 13 that production is very important, and to have a working relationship with a producer is important for an MC. It was pretty impressive to me, seeing he was so young, I was more than happy to help the kid out.

The beat scene is getting pretty big and people are starting to listen to more instrumental hip-hop now too, which is great.”

Chase: “And not just beat tapes for MCs to freestyle over either. It’s an entire genre unto itself now.”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, Dorian Concept, who I went to Red Bull with often said that he used to make beats for MCs but then he got sick of working with them so he made instrumental music and to make sure that no one could rap over them, he made them so busy that no one would even attempt it. ‘Cause he’s a crazy pianist so he would just make this really intricate and amazing beats that MCs would have no room to be on.

I guess what I am trying to say is that producers are becoming more artists themselves now rather than just a co-producer to a track.”

Chase: “Which is awesome to see. A lot of people I talk to don’t even think that rap is really an art but there is a lot of musicianship to it. I always feel like I have to emphasize that and say, ‘You know what, we’re musicians too!’”

Ta-Ku: “Yeah, you’re right. When you look at the difference between rock music and hip-hop music, people always say there is more intricacy and more technical ability when you make rock music. And whilst is some cases, it may be true, people like Slo-Mo who connect hip-hop into the more indy-folk-rock world, they are starting to see that it’s not just drums, bass, and a sample. It’s actually more.

To sample a record is just as technical as knowing how to play guitar. Not everyone can do it.”

Chase: “Very true! Producers can totally chop up and make a sample completely unrecognizable and do all sorts of creative things with it. It absolutely blows my mind what they can do with it. I wish more people could see the talent behind it.”

Ta-Ku: “That’s what’s really inspiring, when people like Premo or Dilla can take five to ten seconds of a five minute song and recreate an entirely new song that sounds entirely different, which flips up the original composition entirely. I think that’s what really amazes me.”

Chase: “It has been a pleasure talking to. Thanks so much for coming on the radio and on the podcast.”

Ta-Ku: “Thanks so much for having me. Big respect to DOPEfm and The Word is Bond. Much love and all my support goes to them.”

That concludes the transcript of this interview. You can listen to the entire interview and hear the exclusive mixset Ta-Ku laid down for us with the player above. You can also download this podcast for free to play it over and over again whenever you like.

Thanks for tuning in!

Download the podcast for free. 

Residential Schools Novels, Memoirs, and Picture Books

Residential schools have had a considerable impact on children, families, and entire communities. In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people on behalf of Canada for a over a century of residential schools.

This small action helped to expose Canadians to this long-hidden aspect of our history. This is a topic that is often ignored, denied, or brushed aside. It’s impossible for us to move forward as a country without acknowledging our past.

I did some reading about it this summer, and found some wonderful books that I’d like to share with you. I hope that teachers will find these resources useful. This is a subject that should be covered in social studies and history classes.

Wawahte as told to Robert P. Wells by Indian Residential School Survivors 

“The legacy of Canada’s  Indian Residential School system needs to be addressed if we, as a nation, are to move forward. Learning and knowing about our history is a prerequisite to our healing of today and the restoration of our families and culture.”

Very wise words from an elder who spent eleven continuous years at a Residential school. You hear her story and that of two others in this book. There is also a appendix that lists all of the schools that operated in Canada over a 150 year period and which church operated each one. There are historical records in here as well (including some of the official apologies that have been made to the First Nations People)

This is definitely a great place to start of you want to learn about Canada’s Residential Schools.

Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

This is an amazing book. It tells the story of an Inuit girl’s experience at Residential School in a very real, open, and honest way. The artwork is beautiful and really helps tell the first person narrative. There are definitions of native words, photos, maps, and all sorts of interesting information.

The best thing about this book is that it tells a story that kids can relate to. I would highly recommend this for students in Grades 4 and up.

A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

This book is a sequel to Fatty Legs but it stands alone as well. Both books teach about the history of Residential school but this one helps illustrate the traditional life in the village more clearly. It also shows the damage the schools did to the rich culture of the First Nations people. You see this when Margaret comes home and she has forgotten her own language. As such, “she must begin a painful journey of learning how to fit in again, how to reconcile her old self with her new self.”

Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and Kim LaFave

Shi-shi-etko is forced to go to Residential School. It is the law, but her parents want her to remember that her name means “she loves to play in the water.” They want her to remember the sights and sounds of nature and their traditional way of life.


Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell and Kim LaFave

This is a sequel to Shi-shi-etko and it tells of how her younger brother brought a tiny wooden canoe that his dad had carved for him to residential school. He kept it hidden away and safe as a reminder of the rich culture awaiting him back home.

More Good Reads

Chasing Content – September 2011

'Round-up' photo (c) 2007, Benny Mazur - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
It’s time for another round-up of posts. We do this at the start of every month in a little feature called Chasing Content. So, please take a moment and explore what was happening here on Silent Cacophony last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from September 2011

or just these cool ones. . .

Use Lego to Teach Science – I love using Lego to teach my Grade 4 units on Pulleys and Gears. It is a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive way to have students experimenting and building simple machines for a variety of real-world purposes.

On the Red Carpet at the Stylus DJ Awards – It was hectic being on the red carpet for an award show, but I still managed to get some great interviews from hip-hop artists, singers, comedians, and television stars.

Everyday People Interview – Here’s an exclusive interview I did with Hamilton hip-hop group, Everyday People. You can read it, stream it, or download it for free.

Stupid Cell Phone – Having a cell phone comes in handy some times. I thought having one with me this day would help me win a radio contest but my phone had other plans.

Skateboarding, Batman, and Photoshop – I so wanted this picture to be real. It’s hard to know what is authentic these days with pictures being so easy to doctor. Oh well, it’s still a cool shot.

Not Impressed with Digital TV – And I’m still not. I wish we could go back to analogue. Sure the signal was a little fuzzy at times but I actually did get more channels back then. Some days I can’t even tune in certain channels at all now. But I am watching less TV these days, maybe that’s a good thing.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Conducting Music with Michael Miller (Transcript and Podcast)

This is Part 2 of an exclusive interview I did with Michael Miller, author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Conducting Music. If you missed Part 1, you can go back and read it now. You can also listen to the interview for free. Stream it with the player below or download it to listen to later.

Enjoy!

Michael: “A conductor has to know a little bit about every instrument out there. If you are conducting your seventh grade band and your French Horn section is having trouble with a particular passage. You have to figure that out. Why are they having trouble with it?

You have to know how that instrument works. Are they having fingering problems? Is it breathing problems? You have to know a little bit about the instruments.

If you are conducting a choir, you don’t have to be a singer yourself, but you have to know how to sing and what proper vocal technique is. So that’s another part you have to layer on your skill set. You really have to know about the instruments or the choral vocalists that you’re conducting.”

Chase: “A teacher colleague of mine told me a neat way to do that. She doesn’t remember the fingering position for the French Horn, specifically, she told me that. But there are fingering charts in the back of the student books. She’ll go to the student and reinforce where to find they can find answer without having to admit that she doesn’t know.”

Michael: “You’re not going to be a virtuoso on every instrument. You’re the conductor. A few of the conductors I interviewed told me they rely on the concertmaster, the first violin, for example. If we have an issue with the string section, I go right to the first violin and to that section to see if we can figure it out. You have to rely on your players to some degree.”

Chase: “When I was in high school, I was really impressed with my bandmaster because if you had trouble, he would take an instrument and sit down beside you. He could do that with every instrument in the whole concert band. It just blew me away. I want to be able to do the same thing but I don’t know how to play every instrument. I’ve been learning the woodwinds this summer. I already knew the brass. I want to be able to, at least, play a couple notes on each one.”

Michael: “This is why I think the more difficult conducting jobs are conducting youth players because you have to do much more individual teaching. Not that it’s easy conducting a professional orchestra. It’s not. There are different pressures and challenges, but those guys know what they are doing.

Dealing with younger players, you have to teach them so much about dealing with their individual instruments and about how to play together as a group. With older, more experienced players, you take that for granted. But the conductors who have the hardest job and who I admire the most are the school conductors, the people who are conducting junior high and high school choirs and bands.”

Chase: “Ah, you’re scaring me. I’m just kidding, Michael. On page 58 of your book you say, .You should strive to maintain as much eye contact with your musicians as possible—and encourage eye contact in return. Keep your head out of the score, and the score in your head.’ Why is that important?”
Michael: “You need to make a connection with the players. You don’t want your players to have their heads buried in their music and you don’t want to have your head buried in yours either. You want to have that direct connection. So much of conducting is body language. It can be your hands, it can be posture, it can be the way you raise your eyebrows at a certain passage. That’s how you get across your point.

You need to be looking at them. They need to be looking at you. If you don’t know the music and you’re actually reading the score as you go along, you are missing a big opportunity to connect with the musicians.”

Chase: “That’s a really key point. Thank you. Another thing I was wondering is how exactly I’m going to cue the students to come in. On page 115 you say, ‘You should avoid pointing while conducting; there are better ways to let a section know they need to be ready. A former teacher of mine called pointing the ‘the finger of death.’ . . . The less you use it, the more effective it will be when you do.’

Michael: “This varies from conductor to conductor. Everyone has their own personal style. It also varies from ensemble to ensemble. With more experienced ensembles you have to cue them less. But pointing should probably be used judiciously. If you are pointing every other measure, pointing loses its point. Looking at a section and giving them a nod is a good cue.”

Chase: “Yeah, and it gets the students following you if you are conducting a good pattern while maintaining eye contact. You conduct the beat pattern with your right hand, but your left hand can do different things to cue people in without having to point as well.”

Michael: “Obviously, your right hand keeps going with the beat. Your left hand does everything else and the less it does the better. I think one of the temptations for a less experienced conductor is to cue everything. Your welcome wears pretty thin when you do that. You should try to use your left hand only when it’s necessary. Train the musicians to do what they have to do without having to be pointed at all the time.”

Chase: “So, your left hand should normally be relaxed at your side?”

Michael: “If you don’t have anything to cue, get it out of the way.”

Chase: “You have a four step plan in the book that shows how to use rehearsal time appropriately. On page 37 you say, ‘Start with a warm-up period, where everyone settles in and gets in tune. Use this period not just to warm up your vocalists or instrumentalists, but to also build a sense of ensemble, develop intonation, and solidify other basic skills.’ I want ito touch on e on point there – build a sense of ensemble. How do you do that?”

Michael: “It’s a matter of teaching the musicians how to play together. There are lots of practice techniques you can use. I talk about some of them in the book. It’s a matter of getting them to think outside of their own heads.

If you are dealing with brand new musicians, those in 5th or 6th grade or whatnot, they’re just concentrating on their own music. They’re not listening to anyone else. You’ve got to get them out of that so they are hearing what the person sitting next to them is doing. You can do it with a very easy piece of music, even if it’s just playing a scale, something where they don’t have to concentrate on the reading and you can get them listening instead. This is key.”

Chase: “I really like this quote on page 40 of your book. It says, ‘Finally remember to be positive, even when things aren’t going quite as planned, Let the group know that you enjoy their playing, and offer profuse (but honest) compliments throughout, Don’t focus on the negatives, but instead try to turn them around; instead of saying ‘that really stunk, do it again,’ try ‘that was pretty good, but now let’s try it a little faster.’ And if you do find yourself reacting too harshly to an error, try tempering that harsh comment with humor, a little laughter goes a long way.’

I think that can be applied to teachers in any capacity, not just in music.

Michael: “One of the guys I interviewed in the book, I forget which one, said, ‘I’m as much a psychologist as I am a musician when I’m dealing with a group of 20, 30, 40 people of all ages and experience levels. You’ve got to use a lot of psychology to deal with them.’

And just how do you deal with people? Some people come in very blustery and yell, and that might work for some but for most people that doesn’t work so well. You need to encourage them, not discourage them. That’s why during the rehearsal time, you always want to end on a piece that they can play well, so they end on with positive feeling about the rehearsal as opposed to a jumbled train wreck of a rehearsal.

You want everything to be as positive as possible. You’ll get the most out of your musicians that way, especially those who might be struggling otherwise.”

Chase: “There are those sections we need to work on and tough pieces but your advice is to do that in the middle of the rehearsal. Then towards the end, work on something more familiar, something they can have success with so they go out remembering that, but then also remembering that we are going to assign them homework and they need to practise this specific section.”

Michael: “Your rehearsal process almost looks like a Bell Curve. You start on the left side as you start the rehearsal with something easy to get them playing together well. Then you move into the harder stuff and you woodshed that. And you end up with something easier that you know they can play well and everybody feels good about it. That’s a successful rehearsal.”

Chase: “You know what’s amazing? I’ve taught music every single year of my career and I’m coning into my tenth year. I’ve taught primary music so it’s mostly singing, but I’ve also done recorder. I thought I knew a lot about music. When I started reading this book, it’s called The Complete Idiots Guide to Conducting Music, and for the first twenty pages I thought, ‘Woah, this really is for idiots.’ But then I started getting stuff out of it, even though I am a musician and I know a lot of this stuff. I took six pages of notes and wrote in the margins.

I think this is a book that people should get. If you are conducting music and you’ve done primary choir or something like that. You can still learn a lot from this book.”

Michael: “It’s designed for anybody. There are a lot of folks who get thrown into conducting, whether it’s the church choir, the high school musical, and even people like you who’ve been doing it for a while.

There is a lot more to conducting than just waving your arms around. 80% of it is the rehearsal process and how you interpret a piece, how you get the musicians to play, and there are always new things you can try. Hopefully, my book does some of that for people.”

Chase: “The interesting thing to is about whether or not to use a baton. When I did primary choir, I never used one. But I just recently bought one and it feels so good it my hand. I love it. Even though conductors are doing the same job, per se. You have a whole chapter in your book about that. But there are different ways to do it. Certain choirs or jazz bands don’t use batons. It’s interesting to see that it’s not just the conductor’s preference but also the style that seems to dictate that.”

Michael: “In the real world, a lot of choirmasters conduct bare-handed, a lot of orchestra and band conductors use a baton. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. A choirmaster might say, ‘Oh, I can’t get the finesse and the emotion I need with a baton,’ and that’s just bull. Of course you can. Or a band conductor might say, ‘I can’t get the precision with my bare-hands that I can get with a baton,’ and that’s bull also.

You can be as precise as you want bare-handed and you can be as emotive as you’d like with a baton. It really is just a matter of personal preference, what you get used to, and what you’re good at.”

Chase: “That being said, speaking as a musician sitting in the orchestra pit, I find it a lot easier to see a white baton than a hand.”

Michael: “That’s one of the reasons I prefer a baton. It does give the performers something to focus on. I’ve seen a lot of bad choir conductors in my day, like where’s the beat? They’re just waving their arms around, whereas with a baton it will cause some conductors to focus more if there is that thing in front of them and in their hand as opposed to just being bare-handed. But again, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it that way. It’s just about perfecting your craft whichever way you decide to go.”

Chase: “Besides conductors learning the basic patterns of the different time signatures, there are different ways you can conduct to indicate phrases and dynamic with your left hand. It’s very complicated. It looks like someone is just waving their hands around, but it is something that we are doing to communicate to our musicians in front of us.

I’m glad that you’ve written this book and that I’ve had a chance to read it. There is a lot in here that I didn’t know. I think I’ve learned a lot out of it and hopefully I’ll be better to go on the first day of school this fall.”

Michael: “If a conductor or an aspiring conductor reads the book and gets a half dozen useful things out of it, I think that’s money well invested considering how important the job is. A lot of people are probably going to get a lot more out of it than that, especially if you’ve never conducted before. It will take you from square one on up. You can jump in wherever you need to jump in. I’ll tell you that there are a lot of conductors who probably need the help, so I’m glad I wrote the book for them too.”

Chase: “Excellent. So tell our listeners and readers how they can get this book and get in contact with you.”

Michael: “This book and all of my books can be found at molehillgroup.com. There is contact information on there as well. I’ve written a lot of books about music, music theory, playing drums, that’s my main instrument. There are also books from different fields as well. I do a lot of writing.”

Chase: “Well, it has been a pleasure talking to you. I am thankful that your publisher sent me a copy. I’ll podcast it and transcribe it for the blog so hopefully a lot of people can enjoy the music. Thank you.”

Michael: “Take care.”

Download the MP3 of this interview or stream it with the player below.

MusicPlaylist
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