Monthly Archives: January 2017

First Week of a Beginning Instrumental Music Class (Part 2)

Instrumental Music Teachers First Week (Part 2)This is part 2 of an on-going series for new instrumental music teachers who are leading a class of beginning music students.

Last week, I shared the first two lessons I taught my classes this year. This week, we will look at the next two lessons that you can use to kick off your semester.

Trying Out Mouthpieces 

Before the students pick the instruments they will be playing for the semester, it is a good idea to give them a chance to try out different mouthpieces. This gives them the chance to see how the the brass and woodwind instruments create sounds differently.

Small Group Instruction

One of the best ways to get your students playing quickly is to coach them individually or in small groups. I worked with four students at a time for a few lessons so that each student could get a chance to play both the flute and trumpet mouthpieces.

Small Group Ensembles (Orff Instruments)

  • Divide the class into groups of four. They can choose their own groups if they wish.
  • Demonstrate how to make a four piece band using the instruments we have (shakers, rhythms sticks, triangles, hand drums, etc.)
  • Ask them to create a piece together. (The teacher will work with one group of students to learn the flute and trumpet individually at this time)
  • Once they are done, a group that is ready to present a routine will present and trade spots.

Instrument Demonstration

  • Show the students how to get an instrument ready to play.
  • Set the case on the floor in front of you. Stress that it’s important to make sure the correct side is up.
  • Show them all three parts of the flute but that today, we will all get a chance to make a sound using just the head joint. This practice will help to ensure that the muscles in their lips develop so they can obtain a good sound on the flute.
  • Repeat this with the trumpet, show the students how to properly insert the mouthpiece by gently pushing it in until it stops. Do not push, shove, twist, or force it. If you push it in too hard, it will get stuck and we wont be able to get it out without a special tool that we don’t have. This will cost you or your parent’s money.
  • Never make the popping sound on a trumpet. If the mouthpiece gets stuck, you will have to pay to have it removed. Demonstrate this noise by by holding the mouthpiece slightly out of the instrument. Stress that this is something that is strictly not allowed. Ever! If the mouthpiece gets stuck, the case won’t even close. This is an easy repair to avoid.

Sterisol Procedure

  • Spray the mouthpiece. Wait two minutes, wipe it with a paper towel.

Flute Instruction (Small Group)

  • The student should put his/her lips together. Tell him to close his mouth completely but not tightly. Blow the air out through the lips. Do not pucker the lips and do not smile. The opening of the lips is a result of blowing the air and not making any special shape.
  • The student should use the syllable “pu” to blow the air out. You are holding the flute for them at this point so you can adjust it as need be. Praise any sound produced at this point.
  • When the student gets a few good sounds in a row, remove the mouthpiece from his mouth and quickly replace it and have him play again. He should get a sound easily. If not, move it for him. Then have him place his hand at the end of the head joint but not covering the open end.
  • Once they make a sound, remove your hand and have him play again. Once he gets a few good sounds, ask him to place the headjoint on his lap, reposition the mouthpiece, and play it again. The student should remember the best place to place the flute now.
  • If time allows, have them place their hand against the opening to produce a tugboat sound. Then challenge the student to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by using his index finger at different depths in the opening. Then ask them to play a high and a low sound simply by blowing.

Trumpet Instruction (Small Group)

  • First, wet your lips and try to buzz them. Now try it with a mouthpiece only. Make a siren sound. Gently, place the mouthpiece into the trumpet. Do not push, shove, twist, or force it. If you push it in too hard, it will get stuck and we won’t be able to get it out without a special tool that we don’t have. Never slap or tap the mouthpiece when it is inserted. Never pop the mouthpiece.
  • Left hand holds the trumpet. The thumb goes to the side of the cylinders. The ring finger may go into the third valve ring. The thumb of the right hand is placed under the tubing leading from the mouthpiece. The first three fingers go over each valve with an arch in and the ends of the fingers over each valve.
  • Try to make a sound. If they are having difficulties, ask them to make a sour lemon face and buzz with that shape of lips. Have them play an open note (either G or C, don’t worry which one they make) Praise the note and then ask them to play a lower / higher one. Have them practice with whole notes and quarter notes.

Listening Activity 

Introduce STILL time (Silent Time for Individual Listening Logs) and complete a listening log. Play Viennese Musical Clock by Zoltan Kodaly. Ask the students what instruments they hear in the piece – tubular bells, trumpets, celesta, piccolo, triangle and what it makes them think of.

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Lessons and inspiration from my class to yours

One More Douglas Adams’ Trip Through Space and Time

Doctor Who - Shada by Douglas Adams

Doctor Who: Shada by Douglas Adams (novelization by Gareth Roberts)

Douglas Adams never completed Doctor Who story has finally seen the light of day in a novel that does justice to the story he likely would have told.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. There were moments that were laugh out loud funny. The dry with and humour of Adams was able to shine through with the dialogue and some of the prose. Roberts wasn’t able to write in Adams’ voice the way that Eoin Colfer did, but I doubt anyone else really could.

The story was originally meant for the 19th season of the classic series and parts of it were filmed with Tom Baker. Unfortunately, it was never completed. Or maybe, this was the form it was meant to take all along. I’m not sure.

All I know is that, as I read it, I found myself thinking, “I wish they had shot this,” and “This could really work with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.” There were a few moments where I could picture Christopher Eccleston clearly in my mind as well.

Doctor Who fans, no matter the era, will enjoy this book. You can picture your favourite Doctor as you read it, or a combination thereof like I did.

My List of 2017 Reads – a continually updated reading log

My List of 2017 Reads

2017 ReadsFive years ago, I decided to start blogging about every book that I read over the course of the year.

This is an exercise that I would encourage anyone to do. Not only does it give you a chance to share what you read with an audience, but it gives you some pretty interesting data to look at.

I love having this collection of posts to look at, to compare what I read the last few years with what I am currently reading, to see any trends that appear, and to check to see that I am reading a variety of different material.

Here are some of the stats from the last five years.

2012 – 65 books total.

(16 novels, 33 Graphic Novels, 4 Hip-Hop, 4 Teaching-Related, 3 Memoirs, 2 Non-Fiction, and 1 on Writing)

2013 – 61 books total.

(14 novels, 37 Graphic Novels, 2 Memoirs, 2 Non-Fiction, 6 Teaching Related)

2014 – 78 books total.

(11 novels, 50 Graphic Novels, 3 Teaching-Related, 8 Non-Fiction, and 5 on Writing)

2015 – 60 books total.

(12 novels, 31 Graphic Novels, 2 Teaching-Related, 3 Hip-Hop, 9 Non-Fiction, and 3 on Writing)

2016 – 65 books total.

(6 novels,  51 Graphic Novels, 1 Teaching-Related, 3 Music-Related, 1 Non-Fiction, 1 Memoir, and 3 on Writing)

It looks like I should try to read more novels this year and maybe a few less comics. Maybe.

Either way, this post will be updated throughout the year every time I finish reading a new book. So, bookmark this page and come back often to get some information on some titles you can add to your own reading list.

Happy Reading!

NOVELS

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
Doctor Who: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams – Shada
The Flash – Stop Motion
The Martian
The Smart One

Children’s Books

Moo

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Darth Vader – 2 titles (The Shu-Torun War, End of Games)
Max & Charlie – 1 title (Max & Charlie)
Spider-Man – 2 titles (Miles Morales Vol 1 and Vol 2)
Spider-Woman – 1 title (New Duds)
Star Trek: The Next Generation – 1 title (IDW Omnibus)
Wolverine – 1 title (Old Man Logan)

TEACHING RELATED BOOKS

coming soon

WRITING BOOKS

coming soon

MUSIC RELATED

I, Bificus
Stay Driven

NON-FICTION

Beyond Mars and Venus

Memoir

The Blue Satin Nightgown: My French Makeover at Age 78

Total Books Read in 2017: 18

First Week of a Beginning Instrumental Music Class (Part 1)

Instrumental Music Teacher's First WeekHere are the first few lessons I used to start off the term with a brand new, introductory music class.

I hope that you will find them useful. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.

Day 1 Music Lesson Plan

Creation-Time

  • Give the students ten minutes to create something out of Play-Doh. The goal is to make something that “is in some way representative of themselves. They can have complete creative license to make anything they want as long as it is classroom appropriate. Explain that the class will see their creation, you will ask a question or two about it, and then have them tell us their name. They will not have to come to the front of the room and the whole process will take thirty seconds or less. That simple explanation of what to expect helps lower the stress students feel about speaking in the front of the class.”
  • While the students are working on their creations, walk around, have informal conversations, and get to learn a bit about some of the students. You can help them come up with ideas and use all of this info to help design hooks to lesson later on in the year.
  • Next, ask them to sculpt “Music” – think of the effects that sounds have on people and the images that music brings to your mind and then give it a form

Listening Activity

  • Play “Viennese Musical Clock by Zoltan Kodaly and ask students to respond to it on the worksheet from Listening Kit 3
  • Take up the worksheet with the students

Music Play Along

  • Divide class into four sections (rhythm sticks, hand drums, shakers, triangles) and instruct the class how we will be playing along with the recording. (Also from Listening Kit 3)

Teacher Note  Even though these activities are aimed at a primary level, they work for beginning band classes in middle school and high school. My first class was a success for Grade 11 AMU3O.

Day 2 Music Lesson Plan

Beat and Rhythm Boxes

  • Draw 8 boxes on the board with a quarter note in each box. Then say, “All types of music must keep a steady pulse or beat. This is just like the clock that keeps on ticket. The beat does not change throughout the song. It stays constant and steady. It does not speed up or slow down,. Let’s keep a beat by tapping 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. Beat is often arranged in groups of 4 that is why we are counting to four instead of eight.”
  • Rhythms change as you tap or clap different beats, but you have to make the rhythm fit the beat. Now let’s erase a few of the notes. We will tap the pattern out, when we get to a blank box, we will take a rest. Now we can try a 2 part piece. One half of the class will tap the top pattern. Let’s try it now. The other half of the class will tap the bottom pattern. Let’s try it. Now we will try it together.
  • All of the notes so far have been worth one beat. They are called quarter notes and sometimes referred to as “Ta.” Now we will work with eighth notes. These are worth half a beat. We need two of them to make one beat, referred to as “Ti-Ti”
  • Let’s play a two part pattern.
  • Now I want you to write a perform your own compositions. When you are ready to tap or clap yours for me, please let me know. When you are ready, I want you to work with a partner.

Instrument Families

  • Work through the package together going through percussion, brass, and woodwind instruments. Tell the students that they should start thinking about which one of these they would like to play this term. Write down a list of concert band instruments on the board that we will be playing – flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, euphonium. (from Listening Kit above)

Listening Activity

  • Introduce STILL time (Silent Time for Individual Listening Logs) and complete a listening log. Play Viennese Musical Clock by Zoltan Kodaly. Ask the students what instruments they hear in the piece – tubular bells, trumpets, celesta, piccolo, triangle and what it makes them think of.

Music Game

  • Staff races – Draw a staff on the board and demonstrate where the musical notes are. Play notes on a keyboard and ask the students to stand on the correct space or line. Have a student play some notes and see if the students can move to the correct positions.

Teacher Note – I adopted this from Music Lessons: Grade 1-3 and it is still a great introduction activity for beginning band classes and a nice refresher for the other students as well.

Continued Next Week

After this brief introduction to music, I like to give the students a chance to try out various mouthpieces before they get to choose which instrument they would like to learn this term. I will share exactly how I do that next week here on Teaching Tip Tuesday.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – weekly inspiration from my classroom to yours

 

Now Reading – Star Trek: The Next Generation

startrek_tng_omnibus

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Omnibus

Later this year, Star Trek: The Next Generation will celebrate it’s 25th Anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long since this iconic sequel to Star Trek took over television and changed the shape of what was to come. That’s no small feat for a little science fiction series many people thought wouldn’t work.

It’s nice to be able to jump back into the crew’s adventures without missing a beat. This 400 plus page omnibus lets us do just that with some beautiful artwork and amazing storytelling.

I especially liked the mirror universe saga in this collection and how it bridged the original crew from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, told some more of Worf’s personal story, and involved the Next Generation crew including Tasha Yar and Ensign Ro. And wait till you see who makes a surprise appearance.

The first story in this collection starts off a little slow, but fans who like Picard going on archaeological missions in his spare time will appreciate it.

This collection brings some old foes from the television series back and really captures what we all loved about the series. It was a a good read that I am sure all Trek fans can get behind.

My List of 2017 Reads – coming soon!

Long Range Plans – AMU3O (Grade 11 Music)

AMU3O Unit Plan

I am back to teaching and loving every minute of it. I have a Grade 11 music class full of eager students wanting to learn how to play an instrument for the first time. As such, if you are a Grade 7 or 8 instrumental music teacher, you may find this long range plan to be perfectly suited to your classroom as well.

We work on a shortened semester at my school but you can easily adapt this semester plan to fit the needs of your school and classroom.

I will be sharing my weekly plans here over the next term as well, so please bookmark this blog and come back often.

AMU3O Semester Plan – Winter 2017 (PDF)

AMU3O Semester Plan – Winter 2017 (Word)

The method book in this unit can be downloaded for free here . . .

Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps – Book One

as can the GPS – Grade Performance Steps books

GPS – The Road to Musical Success

And remember that there are hundred of tips, tricks, lessons, and best practices right here every Tuesday!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive

Five Rappers Who Will Breakout in 2017

In the world of hip-hop, we hope 2017 will be just as awesome as 2016 was, with its many surprises from new album releases to the introduction of new musicians in the limelight. Despite the challenges some of the musicians experienced, there were several great releases. The rise of some musicians has created a buzz and generated musical hype, especially 2016’s breakout star Chance The Rapper, who received seven Grammy nominations. This has severed has inspiration and should elevate artists to greater levels in 2017.

Here are five rappers making big waves in the hip-hop industry . . .

YFN Lucci

This rapper has actively contributed to the dominance of Atlanta hip-hop. Appearing alongside artists such as Meek Mill, Yo Gotti, and 2 Chainz, he has received wide recognition as one of the most promising upcoming artists. To top it all, his hit “Key To the Streets” featuring Migos has received national recognition. In music circles, it is believed that a hit begets more hits and that is true with this artiste. The rapper has managed to revamp the sound of his hit releases with his new track “Everyday We Lit” featuring vocalist PnB Rock.

Amine

This rapper came into the limelight some time last year. As the year was coming to an end, his hit “Caroline” was number 12 on the Hot 100 chats. His style is easygoing, laid back, and shows a lot of ambition. He says when he wrote the song he was hoping to create the modern day “Billie Jean”. Once he clinched the spotlight, he did not waste any time using his voice and lyrics in protest including his Tonight Show performance that was widely viewed as a protest against Donald Trump. His hits and performances have piqued the curiosity of his listeners enabling him to gain a huge following in return.

Princess Nokia

Her September mixtape titled 1992 has helped her cover plenty of ground. Her syllable rapping style that has the crowd in love with her “90s New York beats” easily transitions to club tracks such as “Kitana”. Her flexibility enables her to deliver calm couplets and assertive tracks all in one breath. These make her one of the promising rappers of 2017.

Kodie Shane

It is well known that Lil Yachty came into the limelight after his guest verse on Broccoli was nominated for the Grammy. He has garnered more than 60 million streams on his “1Night” single. However, Kodie Shane is seen as the rapper that might further take Yachty’s musical genius to the next level. Her mixtape titled “Zero gravity” is precise and sharp with an infusion of rap, catchy beats, and melody. Her duet with Yachty released towards the end of the year is still making the airwaves.

Dae Dae

The 24-year-old rapper made his first appearance into the hip-hop industry in 2014 and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. His 2015 hit “What U Mean” had over ten million views on YouTube and ended up in the Billboard chart. It has become the anthem for Atlanta and the rapper continues to show that he is in the game to stay. The rapper has range and has gone ahead to use music to address Black Lives Matter and express his views. As long as he can maintain momentum, 2017 is indeed his year.

Big things coming in 2017

These five rappers will be making noise this year. Mark my words.

Guest Contributor: Kevin Kennedy

Winter Trail Hike

I can’t remember the last time I went out for a winter hike through the woods.

trans-canada-trail-kw

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you will know that I’m always running these kinds of trails in the summer.

winter-trail

It was a nice change of pace to leisurely walk along the main path in the winter.

winter-wonderland

I was surprised to see that the trail had been sufficiently packed down so that we could just walk along it naturally. Of course, that didn’t stop us from going off trail and throwing ourselves down the snowy banks.

climbing-up-that-hill

Here we are climbing back up one of the snow hills.

off-the-main-trail

We threw ourselves down a few more hills too,

grand-river

and made out way down to the river. There were large and thick pieces of ice all along the shore.

white-trail

It truly was a winter wonderland and I was glad to go on this little adventure.

Lyrical Mind’s Birthday Bash – Oshawa

lyrical-mind-birthday-bash

Come out and celebrate Lyrical Mind’s birthday with some good friends, good vibes, and a great night of hip hop.

Headliner: Lyrical Mind

Opening Performances By:

Last Breed
Justn Cr3dibl3
Chezza
Cizzle
Tre Da Kidd
Milestone
Billy Marks
Infamous

Dance Performance By: Heather Mascarin

DJ Chase March on the 1s and 2s all night long.

WHAT: Lyrical Mind’s Birthday Party
WHEN: Saturday January 7, 2017
WHERE: The Atria – 59 King St. E., Oshawa, Ontario
DOORS: 9:00 p.m.
TICKETS: $10 at the door

Visit the Facebook Event Page for more info.

I hope you can come kick it with us if you are anywhere near Oshawa this weekend.

The Martian – Book vs Movie

the-martian-andy-weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

During an intense storm on Mars, the crew of Ares 3 are forced to cancel their mission and evacuate. As the astronauts battle wind and the elements, Mark Watney, is struck by debris. His suit is punctured and the life-sign readings fall flat. The escape rocket is starting to tip over and if they don’t act fast, the entire crew will perish. Believing Watney to be dead, they launch and leave him behind.

Watney regains consciousness and makes it back to the base. Apparently, whatever impaled him had allowed his blood to coagulate around it and form a seal in his space suit. The only problem is that he cannot communicate with his crew or with N.A.S.A. He is utterly alone on an alien planet with little hope of rescue.

It doesn’t sound like a comedy, but this book is full of hilarious moments. Watney uses humour to help himself get through the tough times. There is plenty of suspense as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

The Movie

The film makers did a good job of adopting the story. They managed to keep the tone of book and include much of the humourous moments. Unfortunately, they did lose a lot of the life and death  moments that had me flipping pages and not wanting to put the book down. The few that were in the movie didn’t have me on the edge of my seat as much as I was in my initial reading. The final rescue scene was brilliantly shot and I was on the edge of my seat for every second of it.

The Verdict

Read it and then watch it. Or if you have already watched it, read it and get even more in-depth with the story and all of the suspense and comedy it holds. You won’t be disappointed.

My List of 2017 Reads – coming soon!

Continuing the Chase in 2017

chasing-contentEvery month, I like to take a glimpse back into the past to see what was happening exactly one year ago.

I highlight some of my favourite posts from that month and share them here in a little feature I call “Chasing Content.”

Read all of the posts from last January

or just these highlights

Exploring Swearing in Hip-Hop

I had a lot of fun producing this radio documentary on swearing in hip-hop music. It’s part of the monthly series I do entitled, Know Your History. 

How to Properly Reboot a Franchise

I hope filmmakers can learn something from the Planet of the Apes movies. The reboot movies are extremely well done and are faithful to the original material in a way that can only please fans both new and old.

Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide

This is a fun read for anyone who truly loves hip-hop. The editor takes us on a journey through 60 classic albums with in-depth articles from noted music journalists.

The Death of Spider-Man

I did a lot of comic book reading last January. If you scroll through all the posts for the month, you’ll see tons of great Spider-Man reviews including Superior Spider-Man, Miles Morales, and this huge event that brought tears to many an eye.

Star Wars: The Force Retread

I still haven’t seen Rogue One yet, although I have heard good things about it. It can’t be worse than The Force Awakens. I was so disappointed with that movie that lacked any originality and I vented about it here.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me! 

We do this at the start of every month. Don’t let great content get lost in the archive. Click the links above, leave comments, and share stuff on your social media accounts.

Thank you!

Looking Back to help Look Forward

launching-a-new-yearIn order to truly accomplish a goal, you need to work at it regularly, keep it in the forefront of your mind, and make small steps to reach the intended destination.

This is something I am not good at. I write a list every year, and then it gets buried in the archive.

I decided not to make resolutions at the start of last year. Instead, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish.

The post still got buried in the archive and I didn’t think much about it till now as we launch a brand new year.

That being said, let’s look back at what I was thinking last year at this time and see how I did and what I really need to work on in 2017.

Here it is

“I want to . . .

  • be more creative
  • DJ all sorts of events (weddings, rap concerts, dances, etc)
  • get my fiction published
  • produce quality radio
  • build a life with the woman I love
  • find a way to support myself financially
  • find a job that not only pays the bills but makes me happy
  • sharpen my DJ skills
  • make a few mixtapes to highlight my DJ skills
  • run more than 300 kilometers
  • write a new work of fiction
  • write a non-fiction book (I have two great ideas for this too)
  • keep this blog regularly updated
  • read for enjoyment, self-improvement, and personal education”

Why?

Why did I write that first one? I have always been creative and don’t think I slowed down in that arena.

Wins

I did DJ a lot this year as you can tell from my #2016bestnine posts on Instagram.

2016bestnine-chase-march

Six out of these nine pictures are DJ related. It shows me deejaying on the radio, at a night club, at a stag-and-doe party, holding it down for the Rel McCoy and Cquel tour stop in London, and for being an official DJ for Sons of Boombap.

I did produce lots of quality radio programs including my annual Women in Hip-Hop Spectacular, All Women’s  Voices Day, Christmas Special episode, and tons of great in-depth interviews.

I made two mixtapes this year that were events. I mixed one-third of the collaborative mixtape from the Sons of Boombap collective. I also teamed up with DJ Hullewud to drop The MIX(ed)TAPE. I am very proud of both of these projects.

I didn’t track my running with an app this year but I did get out at least three times a week every week all season. I have to have cleared close to 300 km. I wish I knew for sure though.

I didn’t read as many novels in 2016, but I still did read a lot. I didn’t include the stuff I read for school either as I started working on a masters degree at Western University.

Fail

I didn’t write any new works of fiction or non-fiction this year. I did write and work on projects for the four university classes I took though. I hadn’t planned on going back  to school, but I am glad I did.

Win

Returning to university to pursue a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

I am very excited about this new career path and can’t wait to finish.

Set-back

I worked at a fast food spot as a survival job and kind of got stuck there. The good news is that I did get promoted twice.

Launch-forward

I have moved on from that job and will be teaching high school this winter term. That doesn’t start until Tuesday, but it’s a great way to kick off a new year (also featured on my Best 9 picture above)

The Biggest Win

The biggest win of 2016 is my engagement to Diana. She is an amazing woman and I am really looking forward to our wedding this winter and building a life together.

Good bye 2016

2016 wasn’t a terrible year. It felt like it was a transition year and that even better things are on the horizon. That is why I wrote this tweet.

chase-march-tweet

Hello 2017

I am ready for all the good things that will happen this year. I don’t plan on making any goals or resolutions just yet. Perhaps I will make shorter goals and work hard towards accomplishing some of the things I didn’t get to this year.

Happy New Year!