Kenley Kristofferson


Tag: students

Music Ed Monday – Before You Go…

Today is the last day of class.   So, Grade 12s, you made it.  Congratulations 🙂

This wasn’t the hardest thing you’ve had to do, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest either.  It took a lot of work – sometimes, you didn’t put in quite as much as you should, put it appears that you put in enough.  You’ve made a great start.

Mr. Brandon had some great sentiments for the last class, and I feel like I’ve shared so many hundreds of hours with you all (100 hours per course; the record is 700 hours) that I want to leave you with some things that we’ve been saying during your past three years.  You don’t have to listen/read/follow, but you can if you want 🙂

1) Be humble.

Listen to everyone you meet, treat them with respect, and let them teach you what you need.

2) Nobody cares what you can do without trying.

Or to be said another way…

3) We only expect your best.

Give it your all, then give it a little bit more.

4) The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now.

This is a classic Brandon-ism, but it’s so good that I need to share it.  Which leads me to another…

5) It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Never, ever, ever.

6) Sometimes, it’s your fault; sometimes, it’s not, but both are okay.

As humans, we like to deflect blame.  We don’t like to be found at fault for things, whether it’s a car accident or gossipping, missing a bill payment or hurting someone’s feelings.  Some of these things may actually be your fault, so just own up to it and take responsibility, instead of making excuses.  It’s amazing what you’ll learn about yourself and how sparse those mistakes will become in your future.

7) When the caterpillar wound itself in a coccoon, it thought its world was ending… then it became a butterfly.

Sometimes, the hardest part of life is not knowing what comes next, especially when the axe is to the grindstone and you can’t see past the next paycheque, exam, or sleepless night.  But even through the fog of exhaustion or a huge life change, great things can happen and happen all the time.

Thanks for a great few years.  Be safe and do the right thing… Always.

Until then,

Music Ed Monday – The Inspiration Board

We used to have this whiteboard at the front of our room, but then we got this incredible SMARTBoard.   It’s an enormous touchscreen monitor that’s rigged up to our iMac.  It’s like Star Trek, the future is now 🙂

… But then what were we going to do with this old whiteboard?

Well, we just put it off to the side on, really, the only wallspace that would fit.  We also didn’t have much to put on it either (because we did everything on the SMARTBoard), so it held rehearsal schedules or reminders for a while, but then it turned into something entirely different.

I love this thing.  It’s now the “Inspiration Board” and I can’t really take credit for any of it.  This is a brainchild of Michael Brandon, my collaborating teacher.  We each bring something different to the Music Room, but I’m sure glad that he brings this.

But then another amazing thing happened: The kids started writing on it too.  Take a look at this gem here:

Then just last week, Michael posed a question on the white board: “It’s your turn! What have you learned?” And just look how they responded…

Some of my favourites include…
– “Everyone leads from their own seat” (we can thank one of our clarinetists for that one)
– “No one cares what you can do without trying.”
– “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

It’s amazing what they’ll tell you if only you give them the opportunity 🙂

Have a great week!

Music Ed Mondays – The Music Lesson (Part 1)

In our course, “The Fundamentals of Music,” we teach a novel called The Music Lesson by world-renowned bassist, Victor Wooten.

There  are two provocative parts to that opening:

1) Fundamentals of Music? Yes, they take place in both Grade 11 and 12, split into Fundamentals I and II.  While they started as a theory and performance course (as a buffer to the performing ensembles), we’ve geared it more towards musical philosophy, ear training, responding to music… and yes, theory and harmony.  It is, probably, the strongest course in our Music program because really teaches students how all of the spokes of the Music wheel go together  – not just theoretically and not just in regards to performance, but in the cognitive and emotional elements as well.  If you want to talk about it, contact me and I can send you everything we have to make it run – I’m happy to share the love 🙂

2) Yes, novel study in Music.  Every program builds literacy: If it’s translating a word problem in Math, studying maps and legends in Geography or connecting with text in Music, literacy needs to be built from every angle because words (and their power to change the world)  are never, ever going away.   That’s a whole post in itself.

Anyway, The Music Lesson is about Victor learning the bass as he is just starting out in Nashville, where a mysterious man enters his apartment and challenges his views on all things music.  Each chapter is set as a musical element (i.e. Tone, Space, Key, Dynamics, etc.) and focuses on one thing for the reader to think about.  The text is very accessible and challenges some of the thoughts that we, as musicians and life-long learners of music, think about each element, which makes a great critical thinking resource for students.

While Michael Brandon teaches the Grade 11 section (where the book is taught), we’ve been building and constantly re-imagining the course for three years.  The final assessment is a reading response to the work, but one of the prompts is this: “If you were to personify music, what would your relationship to he/she be? Explore and describe that.”

I’ll upload a sample from one of our Grade 11 students, but for this week, let’s think about what you would write.  What is your relationship to Music” Remember: Music is a person!

Explore and good luck!