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Re: Tapping into your musical/improvisational ideas and skills for my classroom!

Hi Margaret,

Hmmm, since you're working with 10th graders, why not apply these
ideas to instrumental hip hop? It's very loop-oriented, has a "use
what's available to you" aesthetic, and there's a good chance more of
your students will be into it.

The musicians would engage in building phrases that repeat over the
course of a song, are musically understandable, but require careful

It'd definitely be useful to get some sort of looping mechanism. It
sounds like an Ableton Live setup would be ideal, especially if you
have computers available to you. Then for the rest of the stuff, go
back to the roots - a cheap old turntable & cd player, various drums &
resonant objects, guitars with things to 'prepare' them, is there a
piano in the room?

You can start off by using things they're used to - lay down a simple
pulse and have them add things to it. Some other ideas:
-Having each class member add 1 sound or modification to the loop
-teaching them how to layer rhythms (for example, in many rap songs,
the 'snare' sound is a complex layering of several different sounds
-teach them how to modify sounds once they're already in
-borrow a drum kit or two for a class and hand a different element to
each student for a session.
-adding non-musical elements (like environmental recordings) and
seeing how they become musical with repetition
-show 'em some different techniques for playing found objects (the
rubber ball on a stick for making groaning sounds, suspending
silverware between styrofoam pieces, etc)

Listening exercises
- how do they make that sound?
- How do the musical phrases change over the course of a song?
- paying attention to when certain instruments are *not* playing
- Dynamics! (I attended a great class one time that involved listening
closely to the dynamic changes of "You lost that lovin' feeling".)

Then, you can start bringing in the Steve Reich/Terry Riley ideas, and
they'll probably think it's cool rather than old.

Matt Davignon

On Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 12:16 PM, margaret noble
<margaretnoble2000@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hello Live Looper List!
> This is Margaret here, I chime in from time to time and am very much 
> forward to Y2K8 this October!
> In order addition to working as an artist, I teach high school. This is 
> second year and my bread and butter, the good news is that I love my 
>job. I
> am designated as the sound production and digital arts instructor. My 
> is founded on project based learning, it is free to students and 
> as a charter school. If you are curious about the school, here is the 
> http://www.hightechhigh.org/
> So, why am I reaching out to you all?
> Basically, I have free reign with my curriculum. I am about to start a 10
> week class with a group of 25 tenth graders. I want to focus exclusively 
> sound, listening and musical movements (no visual content). I plan on
> screening lots of documentaries and presenting listening exercises for
> exposure and dialog. Additionally, I want to have morning group
> improvisational exercises. Maybe 5 minutes or so of performance, then 
> it and play it back to class. It assumed that most  (maybe all) students
> have absolutely no musical training thus the goal is to create exercises
> where success is easy for the newbie. It is also assumed that these kids
> definitely will have moments of shyness and/or pressure to be cool thus
> anything that goes too far might be rejected.
> Here are some ideas I have for tools (suggestions, recommendations based 
> super low budget please):
> - Having the students craft very cheap tonal single notes from pipes for 
> tonal tool and having them create an atonal percussive instrument (like
> shakers).
> - Sending an audio out from every classroom computer/midi controller to a
> central mixer for computer based sounds improvisational exercises.
> Now exercises: this is where I need alot of help with:
> - I am  thinking of hybrid versions of Steve Reich's  Music for 18
> Musicians
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCZEckS5X94
> And just to throw one more curve ball out when considering this course, 
>I am
> no musical expert and have been getting by  with production more than
> musicianship for my work.
> Ok, so there it is! I am looking for your input on listening exercises
> (musical and purely sound-art), instrument construction, improvisational
> warm-ups and even performance or recording projects.
> Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you all!!!!!
> http://margaretnoble.net/