Each year classical guitar enthusiasts convene at the annual "GFA" an amazing festival of artists, teachers, luthiers, mercheants and fans. The GFA moves around the country each year, so we are fortunate to have it in San Francisco this year, and the festival runs from August 5th -10th. I will be hanging with my friends from the South Bay Guitar Society.
Artists scheduled to perform are Zoran Dukic, Hopkinson Smith, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Friday Night in San Francisco, Pavel Steidl, Jose Antonio Escobar, Marcin Dylla, Boris Gaquere/Renato Martins, Thibault Cauvin, Raphaella Smits and Michael Nicolella, plus the following lectures:
Thomas Heck: "Research Resources Online"
Stephen Goss/Jonathan Leathwood: "Oxen of the Sun"
Robert Phillips: "Compositions of Miguel Llobet"
Alex Dunn: "Beethoven and the Guitar"
Alan Steel: "Sibelius: Music Software - Uses and Possibilities"
Lawrence Ferrara: "Teaching Guitar Online"
Tony Morris: "Public Radio, YouTube, MySpace and the New Media"
Ruth Felt, Donald E. Osborne, Hugh Gilmartin: "An Artist in the Marketplace"
Stephen Rekas, Jerry Snyder: "Publishing: a Roundtable Discussion"
Russell Bond, Rainer Gembalczyk, Stephen Pasero: "Recording for the Independent Artist"
Scott Cmiel: "Developing Talent in Young People"
Bill Swick: "You Just Completed Teaching Your First Year of Beginning Guitar Class. What next?"
Frank Longay: "Suzuki Guitar"
Kevin Vigil: The Role of the Guitar in Public Schools and Current Instructional Practices"
Classical guitarist Ray Zhou performs expressively.
Spring, 2008 brought an exciting and challenging new project - with three days of workshops in musical expression. Held June 18-20 at the Folsom Public Library, the workshops were the culmination of several days of workshops I attended in April and were sponsored by the City of Sacramento. The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC) recruited 50 artists to apply for this training, and I was among 25 artists selected and the only music teacher. The project prepared us to go out into the community, mainly schools and community centers, and deliver arts training at no cost to the recipients. I took it as an opportunity for professional growth, and although the training distrupted my teaching studio's schedule, I knew I would learn valuable insights about how to communicate about the arts and be a more effective teacher.
Dr. Rosalind Flynn, Youth Education Consultant for the Washington Performing Arts Society and a Teaching Artist with the John F. Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program, came out from Washington D.C. to train us for two of the days; the others were led by SMAC Arts Education Program staff Erika Kraft and Chelsea Hunt. We were led through a variety of exercises and given thick manuals full of educational standards for the arts for different grades, plus a binder full of advice and suggestions.
Having just presented a clinic in the topic for the South Bay Guitar Society, I chose Musical Expression as my focus. It was up to us to find the site of our residencies. Folsom's Teen Summer Reading Program at the local library provided a ready supply of potential students. Last year I coordinated with Library Technician Debbie Centi to conduct a "Guitar Basics for Teens" summer workshop there, and she handled this year's promotion as well, making flyers and posters and signing up teens (though a few 12-year-olds snuck in!) There were guitarists, violininsts, a cellist and a singer, so I had to adjust the workshops to include non-guitarists.
Line-up at the end of the "Musical Expression" Workshop: In the Folsom Public Library Meeting Room, from left: Tayler Duke, Kayla Tuter, Lauren Smith, David Johnson, Chirstopher Lorenzo. Vivian Lam, Lanre Akomolafe, Zachary Taub, Ray Zhou, DR. Missing: Drew Elam, cello, and Hannah Avdalovic, guitar. At the end of class Certificates of Completion were awarded from the Library staff.
Anyone who has read music has run into musical directions; but when they're in Italian and have meanings like "majestically" and "with much expression," it raises the question of how to translate that into action. For some time the fact that technical virtuosity and speed do not neccessarily equate to emotionally moving and compelling has intrigued me. Once you get past learning the locations and timing of the notes, the next phase is making the heart of the music come alive in performance. For the musical expression workshops for teens, I concentrated on taking terms as basic as tempo and volume from the conceptual to the experiential. I gave them this challenge:
The composer has an experience – love lost, love found, nostalgia, celebration, serenity, and another one of many universal emotions. The feelings are put to music, picked up by musicians eager to perform it. They learn the locations of the notes, get them in the proper order and, in time, share them in a performance. This is the crucial moment – the moment when the composer’s original experience can be tangibly felt in the hearts and minds of the audience.
DR's POSITIVE REVIEW FROM ARI OBSERVER
Observer: Chelsea Hunt, Arts Education Training and Partnerships Associate, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Session: 6/18/08
Daniel, your lesson was very well thought out and executed. The students all responded with intrigue and respect. Using the continuum line to demonstrate concepts and vocabulary words throughout your entire lesson was incredibly effective. The students understood it, kept referring to the vocab words on the wall and responded on many different levels to the visuals you provided. The exercise in which you had them gradually increase their volume was effective and fun. The students were all engaged and determined. There were moments in which there could have been more student involvement as opposed to sitting and listening such as your question and answer and the exercise in which you passed out words and asked the students to place you on the line. What if you asked the students to stand up and stand on the line themselves? Also, there were some questions that you posed such as “How loud is your world…is it louder than it used to be? You didn’t give the students very much time to ponder this or answer the question. This may be a great point in which to have them brainstorm in small groups for just a couple minutes to involve more students in the act of generating ideas for this topic before you posed the question and explained your thoughts on it. Overall though, your distribution of information and examples were all very clear and thoughtful.
A. Excite element of the lesson: The artist captures the attention of the student. Does the Excite element incorporate the art form?
I apologize for being late…I turned on the wrong Natoma street….(the first one) and that is why I was late. But, I entered the room and you were speaking of a musician, so I just assumed you had played them something as your excite?
B. Delivery of Facts or Directions: The students receive information from the artist. What is the information? How clear are the directions?
Your directions were very clear. Your visuals and examples played on your own instrument were all very constructive. Everything flowed very nicely, your delivery of facts to your student involvement.
C. Performance or Presentation: The artist demonstrates a professional level of the art form. How does this occur?
Yes, you demonstrated on your own instrument often and spoke about your musical history in relation to several topics (one of them being hearing loss…which I think was a very subtle way of sharing your own experiences with it while warning the students about damaging their own ears). You also interjected personal philosophies and your own experience with listening to the world around you. It was enlightening and a great way to open the minds of the students to the sounds around them that they may not pay attention to.
D. Question-and-Answer: The artist asks and responds to questions. What are the purposes of the questions? How effectively are questions phrased?
Your questions were phrased well. I did notice that you didn’t give the students much time to answer them. In a couple situations you answered them yourself. See above opening comments for suggestions. There were also moments in which you asked the students to define a vocabulary word. In these moments you did allow the students to respond and they knew the answer.
E. Discussion, Brainstorming, or Review: The artist helps students explore, elaborate on, or re-visit information or procedures.
All of your activities helped the students explore and elaborate on the topics of the lesson. There were also several points in which you reviewed something discussed last class. See above comments for brainstorming ideas. In your lesson plan you had written that you would do a paired sharing activity (Learning Activity #5). This paired sharing is a great idea for increasing student involvement and personal expression and would balance out the amount of listening versus doing for the students.
F. Modeling: The artist demonstrates an action or activity while students observe.
Yes, you modeled the concepts throughout the lesson on your own instrument and in your description of things. Students love to hear about the professional life of an artist. You demonstrated that very well in your discussion of yourself in a band and at the end when you brought up the articles you are writing.
G. Participation I: The artist leads students in an arts activity.
Your engage activities were very well scaffolded into your main activities. Again, the main activity of gradually increasing the volume from student to student on different instruments was very effective in helping grasp the concept of levels and how much that can vary from instrument to instrument. The students loved it! Your reaction to the student with the electric guitar was also fun…
H. Participation II: The artist supervises, circulates, or observes as students work independently on an arts activity.
The activity placing emotions on the line between pppp and ffff was very effective. See above comments about student involvement. I also enjoyed your comments about personal style and playing passionately.
End Element:Your end element was a nice way to close class and well scaffolded into the lesson’s concepts.
Since 1983 the artistic highlight of my year has been playing at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, 20 miles east of San Jose, and it's coming up again, September 6th at 7pm. Sharing the program will be my special guest Richard Giliwetz, a fingerstyle wizard from Florida. At 4200' elevation, around 350 turns in Mt. Hamilton Road with brings hardy audiences to this historic scientific facility, which still does cutting edge astronomical research.
A historical note - before the annual Great Guitars! concerts I started in 1997, an assortment of musicians played in the dome of the observatory. The snapshot below taken by Steve Waldee in 1987, shows harpsichordist Regina Roper at her instrument, mine and amplification in the foreground, and me off to the side. The concert has finished, and the audience is off to hear a lecture on astronomy and queue up to look through the giant telescope. In 1997 the annual concerts were moved from the dome to inside the great hall. Each location has its challenges - the hall was cold - whatever the night air temperature was - the hall is warmer but very long and narrow. But the Lick Observatory experience is unique and magical. World traveler Muriel Anderson calls it her favorite gig.
CREEKSIDE OAKS HOSTS TWO CONCERTS
As this is written, one concert has passed and one is pending at Folsom's Creekside Oaks Retirement on Creekside Drive. On May 1st, David Johnson, Josh McClure, Allison Pepper and Mitch Thompson tested the facility. Slated to play at 10 am on July 17th are students Connor Asmus, Jerry Bellizzi, Max Franklin, Nick Haglan, Brandon Kane, Isabella Lancisi, Ellyse Magnani, Joey Manz, Josh McClure, John McIntyre, Allison Pepper, Delyana Popov, Martin Sabonis, Parker Temple and Kayla Tuter. Come out and support the students as they entertain the 70- to 90-year-olds!
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NEW EXPRESSIVE PLAYING COLUMNS PUBLISHED
Concurrent to preparing to teach how to play more expressively, I was asked by Mel Bay's Guitar Sessions webzine to contribute to their Teaching Column, which focus on teachers and tips on the profession. It was an honor and a challenge to be in the role of advisor to teachers, and the two projects dovetailed nicely. The topic was the same, but the readership is professional guitar teachers, and the workshops were for teens. So far, the columns have focused on DYNAMICS (May), TEMPO (June) and CREATING EXPRESSION (July). Still to come are RHYTHM, ACCENTS, HARMONY, BALANCE, REGISTER, PITCH, BENDS, SLIDES, MICROTONES, TONE, VIBRATO, ATTACK, LEGATO, STAGE PRESENCE and HEART. Several of these topics will be combined. If you take the time to read the columns, I welcome your comments.
CURRENT FAVORITE NON-MUSIC SITE
"THE STORY OF STUFF"
The amazing true story of stuff we buy and toss - 20 minute video.