Technology In Moderation Tuesday, Apr 10 2007 

“Cell, Blackberry, instant messanger, wireless, blog, podcast, download, mp3”

-These are the key words to describe technology and communication in today’s society.

Owen Bradley, from “The Digital Music Educator,” had many great points in regards to technology in conjunction with the classroom. Technology can be great in many ways-for communication, information, classroom additives, entertainment, etc. However, it can also be overwhelming and in some cases, when it just does not work, can hinder learning or progress. It must be realized that technology needs to be an additive to teaching and learning-not a replacement for learning. Some students, including myself, much prefer an “old-fashioned” pen and paper for notetaking, while others prefer a keyboard and wordprocessor. Also, a variety of teaching tools and methods should be used throughout the classroom. These should include technology, but also methods of discussion, lecture, hands-on learning, etc.

Our generation is generally very “technological savvy.” However, most of our parents, or student’s parents, are not at the same “technological caliber” per say. There is an evident technological divide that must be addressed and considered. My parents, for example, sometimes get overwhelmed with simple short-cut computer commands. I am always being asked to “slow down” and “show them again” the keys that I pressed or the code that I typed.

I agree that introducing technology to a classroom or parent group should be done in moderation and step by step. Start with an e-mail list. I think that this is especially great, if the numbers of e-mail users (which should be generally high) are largely the majority of parents. Parental involvement is vital to any area of a students education and life. The more teacher-parent interaction, the more involvement and at least understanding of what is going on will take place. Once a technological foundation is built, additions of a website, blog site, podcast, wiki, etc., can be tried. Just remember, moderation is KEY!


For more information regarding Owen Bradley’s article or “The Digital Music Educator,” visit:


For more information regarding technology and the classroom, visit:


Copyright, Video, and Ensembles Thursday, Mar 22 2007 

Are ensembles allowed to film themselves and freely distribute the video to those within the ensemble either “for cost” or at “no cost”? 

After reading the above question, I realized that I was not sure if I knew the correct answer.  I was aware of some basic copyright laws, and realized that there are many legal aspects that educators must abide by.  However, after researching in more detail, I realized that the situation can be more complicated than I expected and is most likely frequently violated.

          According to MENC and their Music Education Copyright Center information, a single copy of a videotaped performance of your ensemble can be made to keep on file for reference or review.  However, if you want to make multiple copies and distribute them, either with or without charge, you will need permission of the copyright owners for each piece of music performed on the videotape. In addition, you will also need permission from parents to have their children videotaped.  For more information about MENC’s copyright views, read the MENC publication on copyright law.

Another individual who seems to agree with the view of MENC is James Frankel, teacher and author of To Burn Or Not To Burn: It’s More Than An Ethical Question.  Though his book deals with a different avenue of copyright, Frankel has done much research concerning the topic at hand and has much to say.  In response to the above question of copyright legality, Frankel responds, “The answer is no. Why? Every piece of music published with two copyright protections – one copyright protects the printed music itself, and another protects any recording of a performance of it.”



          So how can you legally sell copies of a concert?  According to the Fair Use Policy (which was written to protect those who are financially affected by the loss of sales), one can record a concert for archival purposes only and that the recording may not be lent out to students.  This recording can be played back in a classroom for critique only.  Also, without written permission from the publisher of the composition, you may not post a recording of the concert on a website, which is a commonly violated aspect of copyright.  Many teachers not only record their concerts, but they sell the recordings as a fund-raiser.  However, this is a clear violation of the law.  In order to have legal sales, you must get clearance from the Harry Fox Agency and pay royalties per copy of each CD sold.

          To learn more about this issue, visit the following link for more information:  Also, I strongly encourage going to both the MENC site and Harry Fox Agency as well as James Frankel’s copyright blog site.  All will be very educating and insightful concerning copyright legality. 

Music and Strings: Is it just about Mozart, Bach, and Haydn? Monday, Mar 19 2007 

     As I reflect back on my junior high and senior high school orchestra experience, I realize that most students were really not “into” the traditional repertoire that was performed. While the more conventional or traditional “classical” string music repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, etc. is important and necessary for students to be familiar with, it is not always music that they can fully relate to. Also, for much of today’s adolescence, it is not viewed as “popular” or interesting. The songs that students really got excited about were often of different genre such as world music (African or Irish/Celtic music), movie themes, blues, and even jazz and rock (yes there are such options out there for certain levels of orchestral performance groups).

     One individua who shares some of the above throughts and ideas concerning students is Mark Wood.  Wood is a phenomenal Grammy and Emmy award winning violinist, performer, composer, a member of the Trans Siberian Orchetsra, and owns one of the world’s largest electric violin companies in the world.  It was during the early years of his life that Wood first started playing the violin and viola in his family’s string quartet (he comes from a very successful musical family).   However, an interesting fact about Wood is that he was actually a huge fan of up and coming rock artists such as Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton.  Throughout Wood’s teenage years and after hearing the music of these individuals, Wood realized that he could play this repertoire on the violin. So, after years of playing traditional string repertoire, Wood started to additionally pursue new outlooks and genres.  This led to his ideas for building numerous models of electric violins that are based off of guitars. Some of his most popular models are his “Vipers,” which have six to nine strings. Not only does he play the rock music that he enjoys the most, but will take music from Vivaldi or Bach and add his own interpretation, effects, and flare to it as he “rocks out” on his Viper.

     While it may seem as if Wood completely departed from the conventional path of European Classical Music, that is not the case. Rather, he believed and still does, that it is important to continue to learn, play, and teach European Classical Music, but to more importantly celebrate and work on American Music. Wood currently works with educational programs around the country and promotes the learning of music from American greats such as Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, etc. Celebrating jazz, rock, blues, folk, etc. is something that he believes is vital to educational programs and is something that all students can relate to as it is a part of our American Culture and heritage (http://madpodsdummycastvideopodcast-http// I strongly recommend going to the above link and listening to an interview with Mr. Woods. He has already contributed a great deal to American music and has a lot of great ideas for music in the classroom and educational programs.


       Music would not be where it is today if it was not for European greats such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc. These men paved the way for public concerts, musical forms, musical advancement of styles and ideas, and much more. However, they along with others even before their time, helped make a foundation for music. As time goes by, others build and expand upon that foundation. It is a never ending evolutionary process of musical ideas and concepts. I fully agree with Mr. Woods, as well as others who believe that relating to music that is happening now or the “Classics of America” is very important for students.  This music is part of our roots and musical foundation and should be regarded just as highly as the European Fathers who lived centuries ago.


Music and Strings Wednesday, Mar 14 2007 

It often seems (at least in rural areas) as if public school orchestras are lacking in numbers. Lack of funding, scheduling, and student interest and recruitment are all factors for this decline. This post is for idea pertaining to building these programs, increasing student interest and numbers, as well as dealing with the stresses and problems of schedling the arts into student’s academics.