Summarising Library Resource Seminars

I’ve recently given seminars on catalogue and database searching to all our traditional music students, and to our first year B.Ed. students.  Biteable animations are proving a fun way to summarise what they’ve learned with me.  They have a certain sheer surprise value, too.  (Today, the speakers were set louder than I’d expected, so they surprised me, too!)

 

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Animating a Bibliography? Yes, for sure!

Edinburgh Legal Deposit Music Research – Brief Bibliography

I’m looking forward to giving a talk to students at the University of Edinburgh this week.  The University Library was one of the recipients of legal deposit materials during the Georgian era, before the law changed in 1836.  Amongst all the learned tomes and textbooks, they received sheet-music too.  The interesting question, of course, is what they did with it!

Now, as you know, I’m a bit of an enthusiast when it comes to bibliographies, but this time I’ve prepared a very minimal bibliography in a novel format.  Don’t worry, all the necessary details are on the big, definitive bibliography page on the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall blog.

HAPPINESS IS …WRITING A BALLAD

magpie-2364332__340Not content with setting old folk-tunes, this weekend I decided to go one further and write a ballad.  Yes, the whole thing.  Seventeen verses and a couple of different tunes, so the setting uses tune A for a few verses, then B for a few more, and finally back to A again.  We have all the ingredients for a classic ballad – a lovelorn lass, a motherless child, a lone father … and a couple of Glaswegian magpies.  (They exist – I can show you the tree and chimney pot where I spotted them on my way to the bus-stop last Friday morning!)

magpie tree skyI was asked to write something for voice, flute, violin, piano and guitar / accordion.  I’ve done so.  Personally, I think it would be best to have either piano OR guitar / accordion, but not having heard it played by live musicians, I’m willing to be proved wrong.  Here’s the computer audio-file – unfortunately you can’t hear any words!  But if you listen right to the end, you’ll get an audible hint as to how the story ends!

Jackdaw-Jo : a Ballad

Happiness is … an unaccompanied tune!

There are three strands to my professional self: librarian, musicologist and educator.  But there’s a fourth strand which stays at home – creativity.  That’s not to say, of course, that I’m not creative at work, but I don’t get the opportunity to sew or arrange tunes during my working day!

During my doctoral studies, I encountered Georgian Scottish song-collector Alexander Campbell, of Edinburgh (and the Highlands).  The tunes he collected are in a 2-volume collection called Albyn’s Anthology.  There are some lovely tunes, but his accompaniments are pretty dire.  (Sorry, Alexander, but they are!)  I have had very many hours of innocent pleasure arranging them for small instrumental ensembles.  This week I was challenged to arrange something for soprano and flute, and I ended up with this: ‘The Lone Wanderer‘.

A bit of background: the poet of this tragic song was “Anon” (maybe tune-collector 2018-10-02 10.06.41Alexander Campbell himself?), and he set it to an “ancient Lowland melody” that he had collected on his song-collecting travels. The lyrics tell the story of a girl who went out of her mind with grief, when her fiance was taken from her on their wedding day. The theme is strongly reminiscent of a very popular song, “Crazy Jane.”

Whether he died, was conscripted, or some other disastrous circumstance, is entirely up to the listener’s imagination in the present song.

Campbell went on two song-collecting tours in Scotland in 1815 and 1817, publishing a song collection after each trip. It is with relief that I ditched his accompaniment for this one and wrote an alternative flute accompaniment!

I decided to put some of my arrangements on Sheet Music Plus – they’re all here if you’re interested!

How to Keep Moving Whilst Standing Still

giphyI think I’ve mentioned before my annoyance when ambitious career-seeking professionals pronounce judgement on those of us that haven’t moved regularly in search of promotions.  Today, it happened again: I read a tweet stating that after you’ve been in a job four years, you’re the “best you can be” and should move.  What about working parents, particularly if they’re the main breadwinner?  What if moving would actually be detrimental to your family for various reasons?

So, here I am in the last decade of my career, and I’ve been looking at my CV.  There’s actually a pattern to it.  Just when the careerists insist that I should have moved on, I generally did something that changed my situation in some other way, be that starting a family or gaining more qualifications.  So, just because I haven’t relocated or been promoted, I might have failed in the eyes of the high-flyers, but I don’t think I’ve stagnated!  If I’ve added to my qualifications and experience, surely I  might even be more valuable?

  • 1984 left library school, first cataloguing post
  • 1985 moved from temp to permanent post
  • 1988 moved to my present library post.
  • 1992 By the “you’re the best you’re going to be after 4 years” rule, I should have considered moving.  Instead …
  • 1993 I stayed put and changed the status quo – we started a family and I continued working full-time.  I’m the generation Mrs Thatcher convinced into believing that women truly could have it all – family and a career (never mind the cost of childcare and minimal maternity leave!)
  • 1998 had third child.  Continued working.
  • 2002 If I had deferred the “you’re the best you’re going to be after 4 years” rule until our third child approached school age, I should have considered moving.  In 2003, I applied unsuccessfully for a job in the USA, and did a small-scale research project as I continued working in the same place.
  • 2004, the small-scale research project had finished but I wanted to do more. I stayed put and changed the status quo, beginning a PhD part-time and working full-time.
  • 2009, Certainly changed the status quo: graduated with PhD.  Stayed put.
  • 2012 does becoming a part-time post-doc in the same institution but collaborating with another institution, count as moving?  True to form, I had stayed put and changed the status quo again.
  • 2017 still a part-time post-doc but now a PI with grant funding.  Also graduated with a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching.  Yup, I’d stayed put and changed the status quo again.
  • And here we are in 2018.  In the eyes of the careerists, I’ve failed miserably.  But … I’m certainly a master at the art of keeping moving whilst standing still!

Conferences as I hear them

ric_stylesHere’s a very quick videoclip,  summarising the observations that follow:-

Make Conferences And Lectures Easier for the Hard of Hearing

I’m not deaf.  I don’t identify as disabled – I’m merely hard of hearing, and I wear two hearing-aids.  Most of the time I get along fine – my hearing-aids aren’t visible, and only people who know me, know I wear them.  I’m a musician.  I can hear pitch and rhythm well, indeed I can take music down at dictation with some facility – it used to be one of my party-pieces as an undergraduate.  It’s possible that I’m not hearing the tone or sound quality as well as other people, but I certainly can hear it.  It’s following speech that can be tricky. All those syllables, disappearing in people’s mouths before I can hear them!

In some situations, hearing’s particularly difficult.  When large groups of people are all talking at once, whether it’s coffee-time or a conference break-out session, then I struggle.  If a whole conference is divided into four groups in one large hall, and told to discuss something amongst themselves, then, boy, I really do struggle.  I don’t know if I should generalise, but I’d hazard a guess that many hard-of-hearing people experience this.  My hearing aids mean that my hearing is more omni-directional than the average pair of ears, and so sound comes at me from all directions.   I’d rather have break-out groups in different rooms, so I only have to listen to one discussion.

Sitting round a large board-room table is sometimes tricky, too.  I don’t lipread consciously – I didn’t know I even HAD a hearing problem until I was in my forties, so I’ve never had that kind of training.  But I do know I can hear better when I see the speaker’s mouth, so if someone is at the other end of a table, and on the same side as me, I will be challenged.

What about the induction loop?, you ask.  Not every room HAS an induction loop, and I’ve seldom found the induction loop setting on my hearing aid to improve a difficult hearing situation.  And not every induction loop seems to work very well.  I asked about one, once, to be told, “Well, it’s correctly wired-in, so it MUST be working.” (Ah, right. That’s okay, then.  It’s just me being silly, and I should try harder to hear what’s being said.  Do you know how HARD it is to try harder when your ears, even with hearing-aids, won’t let you hear better?  It’s exhausting!)

But there are other situations when people could actually help, with only a little forethought.  I’m not griping – obviously, people aren’t deliberately being hard to follow,  they just haven’t thought.  And I must state right now, some people speak loud and clear, not too fast, and the space doesn’t even need much amplification.  But then, I’m one of the lucky ones, because my hearing loss is not bad.  But here are my pet hates:-

  • Presenters not standing near the microphone.
  • Presenters standing halfway back a stage with no amplification.
  • Presenters turning and talking to the OHP screen, rather than to the audience.  (If the talking isn’t directed towards us, AND we can’t see their faces, things become impossible!)
  • Presenters talking too fast.
  • Presenters holding their paper so high that you can’t see their lips move.  Please! Don’t. Do. That!

If there’s amplification, then in general, please use it.  If the sound technician has any means of adjusting it for speech rather than music, that’s great.  I realise it’s not always possible.

Also – I’m not very tall myself, so I am conscious of this – if it can be avoided, see if you can avoid hiding behind a tall lectern.  Maybe stand a few inches to the side, and angle the mic towards you.

I only realised I had hearing loss when I became so resentful of accusations that I wasn’t listening, that I went and got my hearing tested.  And there it was on a graph – I wasn’t Not Listening after all – I was Not Hearing. There’s such a difference!  But to this day, if I’m in a conference and I miss a few words out of every sentence, it doesn’t take long for me to lose the thread of whatever the speaker’s talking about.  And it still takes a while for me to realise that – hang on, I’m not being spectacularly stupid here, neither am I failing to concentrate – I actually cannot understand because I’m missing too much.  In a conversation between a few people, you can ask for something to be repeated.  In a lecture? Obviously not!

I’d like to suggest a code of good practice for conference speakers.  In fact, it might be useful for other people like teachers, too.  Because there must be loads of people like me out there.  We’ll continue to struggle on – but a bit of forethought might make our struggles just a little bit less so!

Postscript: Video-clips

Here are a couple of extra thoughts.  If you’re playing a commercially-made, or internet-sourced video-clip to a group of people, please do listen to it thoughtfully first.  If there’s verbal commentary over audio soundtrack, then it can be hard to pick out what’s being said.  If the soundtrack is too loud, consider whether adding subtitles might be feasible.

And if you’re making a video-clip from scratch, then it would be great if subtitles were included from the outset.  You can Google how to add subtitles to a YouTube video.

The bottom line is, it’s hard for anyone to stay engaged if they can’t hear what’s being said.  And you don’t want that!

 

 

Librarians: Part of your Learning and Teaching Strategy

We’re having a three-day Learning and Teaching Conference here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this week.  Today, Information Services department gave some quick updates.  Here was my invitation to teaching colleagues to make the most of the skills that we Performing Arts Librarians can share with students at appropriate points in their courses.  I am quite keen on the Biteable format – it’s quick and snappy, and it seemed to go down quite well!

Librarians as a Learning and Teaching Resource

I'm a musicologist disguised as a librarian. I'm qualified in music, librarianship and education. I began this blog when I was studying for my PGCert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Arts Education, and I'm now using it for CPD. I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Midweek I am PI for an AHRC-funded research network @ClaimedStatHall – early legal deposit music. Off-duty I'm hard-wired into my sewing machine!