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Dr. RizzRazz
Philadelphia, now Baltimore
Chair, Early Childhood Music, Peabody Preparatory; Musicianship chair for ORCHkids, Baltimore Symphony
Interests: music education, teaching babies up to graduate students, dixieland jazz, Music Learning Theory, audiation
Recent Activity
Can we notate in music a Stephane Grappelli solo accurately?( ) The notes? Mostly. The rhythm? Partially. The style? Less likely. The tiny slides between notes, the rhythmic feel, and subtle expressive elements? Impossible. Absolutely impossible. The best anyone can do with notation would be to put something down... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2015 at Teach Music to Kids!
Well, you'll have to read it for yourself. (See links below.) Or, in the meantime, just hear this: My take on all the research I've read is that there are indeed solid relationships between music and non-musical skills. The problem is establishing clear causality. All of these studies could be... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2015 at Teach Music to Kids!
Subject: English Lesson 1 - letters of the alphabet, sounds each letter makes Lesson 2 - commas, periods, colons, semi-colons, other punctuation Lesson 3 - Paragraph forms OR perhaps parts of speech—noun, verb, conjunctions, adjectives, adverbs, etc Lesson 4 - Longer paragraph forms OR grammar, concision, clarity, eloquence, Lesson 5... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at Teach Music to Kids!
These comments are common and very encouraging. But, it’s short of what we need. I’ve been reassessing our IndieGoGo campaign to date and at some point, we knew we needed help. So, we got some. My partner and I just got off the phone with an entrepreneur and business coach*... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at Teach Music to Kids!
First, take a banana. Open up and smell it. Is it ... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Teach Music to Kids!
The key to the *musical* success of any program would be to start early—VERY early—but not necessarily with instruments. At the upper elementary, MS and HS levels, my point is almost moot. At younger levels, consider that early music childhood experiences provides for children the crucial readiness for long-term success... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2013 at Teach Music to Kids!
Dr. RizzRazz is now following Sistema Fellows Program
Jun 23, 2013
Nice paper! Kudos! It's great to use both qualitative and quantitative methods of measurement (assessment). One requires lots of preparation out front (quaNtitative) and the other on the back end (quaLitative). That is, if they are to be done properly. I used both extensively in my PhD dissertation related to music aptitude and achievement. Music literacy, to me, infers reading and writing, much like language literacy. You usually don't say a 3 year old if very literate, though they think and can speak eloquently at times. Music literacy should be built upon a large foundation of listening, and performing skills, PRIOR to introducing literacy skills—reading and writing. If the foundation is not in place, learning will be haphazard for most of the children. Rating scales for performance achievement are key is determining objective progress in the child's ability to understand the tonal, rhythmic and expressive dimensions of music. Technical skills can be measured as well this way. Creative and improvisation skills can also be measured though most have difficulty developing appropriate measures and providing the children with the readiness to be successful at these "tougher nuts to crack." The key point you make is valid: for whom, why, and how do you do the assessment? For me, I believe strongly that measurement is for one overriding purpose—for me to improve my instruction. For the child, a test should be something from which to learn, not just a marker of progress. All would do well to read Edwin Gordon's chapter on Measurement and Evaluation in Music Learning Sequences. The reliability of our measures needs to be high enough to trust. Otherwise, you're judging on a subjective basis and this, by its very nature, cannot be reliable. Anything unreliable cannot be valid. This is the science of statistics. Say I got a 34% on a test. What grade should I get? The number of items correct on the test is measurement—a ruler, albeit a bit stretchy in most cases. The grade I should get is a subjective determination which should be based on both normative (within the group I'm being measured against) and idiographic (me being rated against myself [my aptitude, for instance]) factors. Sorry for the bad sentence. What if 34% was the highest score of all on a test written for 12th graders and I was in 4th grade. That's more than an A in my book. What if 34% were questions on a True-False quiz. A monkey should have done better, right? Fail for sure. This is evaluation. A child with high music aptitude should be held to an objectively higher standard than his peers. A child with low aptitude should be nurtured along while the high achieving student can be asked to keep stretching himself further and faster. We are not all equal in our abilities to learn music. This is a no-brainer. And yet, we teachers tend to treat each child similarly, as if they were a homogeneous group. Think about it for a minute. It's tough to confront, but I would be willing to bet my house that almost all of use don't know or understand the objective tonal and rhythmic music aptitudes of our students. How do you know who to push and who to nurture? A teacher who goes on prior performance instead of a valid aptitude measure is likely at cause in the moderate to severe underachievement of 40-50% of his children. This is harsh, but it's borne out in the research. When most of our children come close to reaching their potentials, it will be a big day for music education. Typically, only a handful overcome the obstacle of traditional music education to learn to read, write, improvise, and create music with competence. We teachers persevered through the system because we were both smart and had high aptitude. Most of our students are NOT LIKE US at all. Some are smart, some have high music aptitude, some just love music and practice a lot, and some struggle and drop out. In fact, the dropout rate is 80+% over just a few years. Hopefully, el sistema inspired programs will make a huge difference because of the passion (and hours) we bring to the party. Kids are doing extraordinary things. I just know that we're just scratching the surface when it comes to music achievement based on the above paper and our reluctance to "test" to measure the achievement of our students. It's unconscionable to teach without measuring what the students are learning. It's the BEST way to improve our instruction. For them, it's the BEST way for them to get an objective marker from which they can assess their progress and continue to improve. There's more to say, but let's leave it there for now. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Let me know what you think. Some of my work is controversial given the status of higher level music education and it's relatively entrenched ways. Still, el sistema is forging new territory and bringing a new passion to music education. Further, our true el sistema mission is about social change. I think good change will happen as children get hooked into something they are extraordinarily successful at and continue to pass on the passion through several generations of a new breed of musicians that we are helping to create. Hooray for what we do!
Teaching Harmonic functions to 3rd and 4th grade on their first day. via Continue reading
Reblogged Dec 20, 2012 at Teach Music to Kids!
What Great Music! - Gordon's classical music selections for babies and young children Classics for Kids (RCA Victor) Nutcracker, Parade of teh Wooden Soldier, Carnival of the Animals, March of the Toys, Socerer's Apprentice, more. . .Boston Pops, others too - (different mix of selections) 9026-61489-2 Bernstein's Favorites Children's... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2012 at Teach Music to Kids!
Hi Julie, I appreciate your thought and it made me think about what you were saying. Still, I come back to this: Theory is usually absent in the "thing" itself. It's a theory. It's an abstraction from the thing you're trying to understand. For example, in music, there is no perfect 5th that actually has any meaning. Even if there were a perfect 5th in a piece, which one is it? C to G? Even that's insufficient information. C to G in D dorian means something quite different than C to G in C major. Theory is imposed to try to make order out of something that isn't already there. Rules are broken all the time. Bach broke voice leading "rules." Analyzing this response (in language) theoretically won't help you understand what I'm trying to communicate. Neither will breaking apart a symphony, or even a song, into its component parts to help you understand what is actually there: the music. Only what hits your ears and makes "musical sense" in your brain—audiation. Looking forward to rebuttals or more thoughts. Thanks!
Interesting conversation I thought worth sharing. Please respond if you'd like. [I added additional comments in brackets] musicteachstuff robert hylton Music lesson Plan "Naming Notes" worksheets "If they can't name notes then they can't build scales and chords" #mused [Seeing this tweet prompted me to respond right away—essentially because... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2011 at Teach Music to Kids!
Dear all, Here’s some of what I have. Please add to the list. Classical: Bernstein Favorites – Children’s Classics Classics for Kids – RCA Victor What Great Music! – GIA publications Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra; Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge; Simple Symphony Bobby McFerrin... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2011 at Teach Music to Kids!
In response to Jessica Tomlinson’s post about Imitation, the second type of preparatory audiation: Jessica, Hi again! I couldn’t get this much on your blog site, so I’m putting it here. Can you tell I’m passionate about this stuff? See my comments after **. This type of preparatory audiation... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2011 at Teach Music to Kids!
Dr. RizzRazz is now following
Apr 20, 2011
To YUNiversity: For guitar, a typical age is usually around 7 or 8. Some start very early but there are dangers with starting too early if it's not anything by completely enjoyable for the child. It needs to be "play" even up until 5 or 6 years old. After that, there can be 15-30 minutes of day of practice and some formal instruction from a kid-friendly and professional teacher. Some early guitar programs start at 5 or 6 years old and are based on Suzuki-style instruction. Play by ear and play by modeling. No note reading. This is key at the earliest ages that you avoid note reading. The less information, the better. The more playing and enjoying music better—whether that's with or without the guitar. I would strongly recommend buying a ukulele (or actually two, so you can play together) and play melodies for him. Then he can pluck and you can finger it. Show him by demonstrating. Start simple. When he's done, you're done. No pushing for anything extra. Also, play great music for him. I recommend Julian Bream for classical, also Ana Vidovic is tremendous. For jazz, no less than Django Reinhardt (early jazz). He's a pure genius. I'm sure there are plenty of other greats: John McLaughlin (with Shakti, especially "Natural Elements[great Indian fusion]), Charlie Christian (40's jazz) and Al DiMeola (70's jazz). Find and share YouTube videos with him. Ask a great guitar teacher what he should do while he's growing what I call "instrumental babble." This stage can last a few years, so you have to be patient about it. Let him lead the way. Listen to him and his needs. To be clear, NO formal instruction at this age. Maybe by 5 years old, but starting early does not necessarily breed long-term success. There is NO hurry. Just enjoy. Hope this helps. Feel free to ask questions. Best, Eric
First, it’s great to see this post. (See below.) Early childhood music education and the learning theories behind it are relatively new to the music education profession and extremely important to its future. Having been an early childhood music specialist for 20 years and also having been in class with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2011 at Teach Music to Kids!
Background: I studied for several years with Dr. Gordon, the man who coined the term audiation. His ideas about how we learn to be musical handily refuted my undergraduate training in music education. It also profoundly affected my musicianship as I learned how much I did not audiate. This was... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2011 at Teach Music to Kids!
Q: What is your synopsis of Feierabend's structure? Here's a list of repertoire I've used for movement.
You're dead on. I agree with you on everything here. I'm glad you're using assessments. They are valuable as one of a few great tools in a teacher's utility bag. The next step would be to test their reliability. That's goes to a whole other level.
- - I am sure this requires a lot of coordination, discipline, and $$. ** Knowing the above would only help guide appropriate decisions. It's informational, especially for teachers and parents who want to start children on instruments. - -Any figures or plans on how to implement this? I'm starting band kids in 4th grade and I'm struggling to get instruments in their hands at that stage. ** How so struggling? Don't have instruments? . . . To be clear, I don't think children should start early on instruments unless the above readiness list is met.
Feierabend's repertoire is a pretty good start, but it doesn't have the diversity of repertoire, especially when considering the variety of tonalities and meters. I'd still use a lot of it. Also, using good classical recordings is great. But, also, use jazz, blues, world music, EVERYTHING that you think is great music. Move expressively to it all. Sing tonal patterns and rhythm patterns. You're on the great track, but I'd just use more diversity of music—stylistic, cultural, and contextual.
Piano, cello, and violin are the typical instruments for kids to start on at the young ages, even as early as 3 years old. Other instruments such as trumpet, clarinet, flute and saxophone can be started at age 6 at the very earliest, but more typically at 7 or 8.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2010 at Teach Music to Kids!
This is a response to a new early childhood music teacher who had a lot of questions and thinks starting early makes the most difference. First off, just sing and chants tons and tons of repertoire. Find out what they really like and do a bunch of it. Play great... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2010 at Teach Music to Kids!
Teaching Harmonic functions to 3rd and 4th grade on their first day. I've posted this kind of thing before, but it's worth posting again with a sequence of how I taught them. I sang Mary Had a Little Lamb using the appropriate I and V7 accompaniment, but I stopped on... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2010 at Teach Music to Kids!