A Historical Approach to Studying Traditional Music: Valuing Older Collections

In this presentation, I managed to combine Karen the music librarian, Karen the musicologist and Karen the newbie educationalist.  I’m posting the slides here, just so they’re there if I need them, but I’ll turn my notes into a written piece at a later stage.

A Historic Approach to Studying Traditional Music, slides without notes

Now then, later today Jennifer Snow gave an excellent presentation extolling the virtues of YouTube as an educational tool. Brilliant, I thought – maybe I could find some examples of my Scottish music for when I give seminars to our traditional music students.  (Someone had suggested this after my own presentation – so obvious that I could kick myself for not thinking of it earlier!)

A TREASURE HUNT FOR PARTICULAR SETTINGS OF SCOTTISH TUNES ON YOUTUBE

Things didn’t start well.  I couldn’t find a YouTube video of the very first example. But I did find one of the second. So I kept going!

  1. Dutches [Dutchess, Duchess] of Athole’s Strathspey / Niel Gow, First Collection of Scottish Fiddle Tunes, 1784
  2. The Highland watch, now the 42nd Regt. or Royal Highlanders Strathspey. Very Slow / First Part of Gow’s Complete Repository, 2nd edition, 1805  – here played by Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward, March 2016 – I think they’re using the first edition, though. This is how it would have sounded.  And see how slow it actually is!
  3. The Lass of Peatie’s Mill / Frances Barsanti [ca.1742] -in A Collection of Old Scots Tunes. It’s written “with the bass for violoncello or harpsichord”. I have been playing it with realised figured bass on the piano, but I found a YouTube version for 3 cellos by Giovanni Solima. It’s a thought-provoking arrangement – I like it.
  4. Thro’ the wood, laddie / Barsanti again. Here on the Baroque oboe with cello and harpsichord accompaniment. Delightfully played by Michael Henry, Roberto Gini and Diana Petech. Starts 7 minutes in.  Recognise it from Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy?
  5. Cope, are you waking yet? / Ritson’s Scotish Song. Published as an unaccompanied tune, there probably won’t be a recording of it!  (If you look it up, try ‘Cope, are ye waking yet?’ – loads of versions but NOT Ritson’s unaccompanied vocal version. (Did he even intend it sung? His version is ridiculously high, perhaps because he was more interested in the words than the music, for the notation of which he had to seek advice.)  Just  because I like it, here’s an alternative for you – another Tim Macdonald YouTube recording. With cello accompaniment and variations -definitely not Ritson’s version, but I love the raw sound and energy of this setting.
  6. Robin Adair / arr. Colin Brown, 1883 in a collection called The Thistle.  You won’t find this arrangement on YouTube – it’s very averagely late Victorian! I’ll record it myself at some stage.

 

Footnote: The paper was entitled “A Historic Approach”.  Any subsequent interations will be “A Historical Approach”, which is more correct! My approach isn’t historic in the sense that you’d talk of a historic event. It’s a historical approach making due recognition of the cultural history surrounding these music publications. Mea culpa!

 

Better Engagement = Better Results, by Michael Smalle (University of Limerick)

Panlibus 40 cover

A useful article in what is essentially our LMS (library management system) trade magazine, Panlibus.  Issue 40, Summer 2016, pp.4-5. The author has experience both as a teacher and a librarian and has recently been hired by the University of Limerick to a new role, Librarian: First Year Student Engagement and Success.

Interestingly, after hearing at one of yesterday’s ISME sessions that students welcome alumni advice about careers, and the importance of slightly older peer support, this article specifically mentions “peer advisors” in a library capacity, to help students learn what works best in their library and information searching activities.  An idea worth bearing in mind!

Read the article here.

Also saved in my Mendeley and Diigo accounts.

Is it really me? I’m attending ISME

Up until a couple of years ago, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to attend ISME – the big summer conference of the International Society for Music Education.  However, the music librarian-turned-musicologist is currently brushing up her pedagogical skills with a PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Arts Education.  Attendance at ISME (which happens to be in Glasgow this year) is thus nothing if not timely!

Today, I attended presentations concerning the education of the professional musician – that’s what we spend a lot of time doing at RCS, after all.  The first session was under the aegis of CEPROM (Commission of Education of the PROfessional Musician), about leadership in the education of professional musicians.  There had been a CEPROM pre-conference seminar, and five people gave us summaries of different aspects of that.

  •  Judith Brown (Australia) spoke of developing leadership skills in musicians, of community projects in this context, workplace placements, and autonomy in student learning. In my practice, only the latter is really applicable, but it does tie in with my concern to engage students in their own learning, rather than standing and lecturing them, wherever possible.
  • Pamela Pike (USA) spoke of transformative pedagogy: student-centred, flexible and explorative.  She reminded us that leadership could be facilitative, directive or integrative, depending on the cohort’s place in their learning journey; and that leadership is actually an attitude.  Above all, she said, we must “foster students’ ownership of their own learning.”  (A theme was beginning to come through loud and clear! )  To do this, we should “shift curricular paradigms; engage students in the reflective process; [help them to] begin their professional narrative; and the process should not be separated from the product.”
  • Annie Mitchell (Australia) spoke of leadership in large ensembles and community music.
  • Pamela Burnard (Cambridge, UK) talked about institutional change, and of a positive welcoming of change – the “we’ll find a way” approach, and of facilitating leadership.
  • Glen Carruthers (Canada) talked about the “responsive university”, and how, with declining applications to music courses in Ontario, his university started a degree in community music, in response to students’ need.

There were comments from the floor about mature students, recreational music-making, and an acknowledgement that portfolio careers are now a reality in”the real world”.

Making our way to the International Concert Hall for the main keynote of the day, we first heard Nick Elliott of ABRSM tell us how they try to support independent learning, provide resources, and seek to reconnect the performance and understanding of music.  There are new forms of assessment, accreditation and resources planned.

As with the Teaching Artist and PGCert courses, the ABRSM makes a blended offer of analogue and digital platforms, and Nick alluded to the recent “Classical 100” primary digital resource.

Next, we heard a stunning presentation from Evelyn Glennie, who told us about the philosophy of her own old school, “Every child has a story to tell”, and her first percussion teacher’s openness to creativity.  Delegates were urged to keep creativity and imagination alive in their pupils and themselves, at any stage in life.

As a downpour overwhelmed Glasgow, I went to the Piping Centre for a lunchtime concert which turned out to have been cancelled, then instead went to a five-piano concert, spending some time after that networking over lunch before the afternoon sessions.

Frank Abrahams spoke engagingly about musical literacy and sight-reading, pointing out that the use of folksongs for sight-reading over the years was now becoming outdated as being an idiom far-removed from students’ everyday experience.  He talked about an experiment he’d run with two teachers getting students to pick repertoire for sight-reading, from pop music and hiphop, which the teachers would then grade and transcribe for them. In terms of engagement, meeting students “where they are” definitely has its benefits – though I am left wondering how I could best do this, when I introduce historic Scottish tunebooks to first/second-year students, or demonstrate databases etc.  The “parachute lecturer” (dropping in to deliver single seminars) doesn’t have the opportunity to allow students to collaborate in deciding what they’d like to learn over a period of weeks.

Frank said that getting students to collaborate empowers them. Have them feel the rhythm by moving their feet and counting, and get them to brainstorm what the possible difficulties of different songs might be.  There were challenges in choosing music that wasn’t too difficult rhythmically, and in teachers being willing to shift the power and responsibility to the students.  It means being willing to let go, to an extent.

I attended a talk by Brit Aagot Broeske Danielson about students being involved in a collaborative student project, but unfortunately, moving between sessions meant I missed the beginning of her paper, and struggled to understand what the powerpoint slides were actually about, though the project itself sounded as though it had been highly beneficial for the students.

Karen Burland (Leeds) spoke about research projects she had done and was about to continue, regarding career information for students, what different levels of student found helpful, and how engaged they were in different kinds of training provided.  It seemed as though it was just about as hard to get students to attend careers seminars as it is to get them to attend any library training that is perceived as voluntary or extra.  It has to be timetabled, particularly to get first years to attend, when they are still not really thinking about future careers.  The other strong message was that students welcomed the chance to speak to someone who knew them and their strengths, or alternatively was just a few years further along the same path so that they could see what was possible and achievable (“Idols in touching distance”).  Alumni links are actually vital.

Karen reminded us that not all students became performers or music teachers, so students need other “employability activities”, but perhaps they don’t realise when they’re acquiring some of these – eg networking skills.  Portfolio careers require entrepreneurial skills, too, but students need to be taught them or given opportunities to develop them.

The final session I attended was about programme music, specifically, Rachmaninov’s “Faust” sonata.  This was probably the session I gained least from.  I had expected a presentation about the benefits of understanding the ‘programme’ behind particular pieces of music.  Instead, it was a blow-by-blow account of the programme behind one specific sonata.  There was nothing relating to pedagogical skills or student development, and the presenter would have had an easier time had there been a colleague either running the powerpoint, and/or reading prepared excerpts from Goethe’s Faust so that he could concentrate on talking and playing musical examples.  Additionally, at times I struggled with the assertion that particular musical passages were directly related to specific passages in Goethe’s text.

Tomorrow, I’ll be in the library, but I’ll attend more sessions of ISME later this week.

I made a WordCloud: Educational Music

Tagul Wordcloud
 I’m doing a presentation at WELEC in September, and I’ve spent the day playing around with data prior to actually starting writing the paper.  I’ve been looking at the instructional music in the St Andrews Copyright Collection, and this wordcloud shows some of the words that occur frequently in late 18th and early 19th century books. (There’s another wordcloud to go with this one, but I have to leave some surprises for the workshop!)

I found the LIDP (Library Impact Data Project)

A librarian at the University of Huddersfield held a focus group with low or non-users of the library, and wrote up his findings on the blog associated with this (now finished) project.  This might be useful either to inform my library user education sessions, or as food for thought when I’m working on my PGCert research project.

Here’s the link:- https://library3.hud.ac.uk/blogs/lidp/

I won’t comment on it at present – but at least I’ve got a note of it!

Devotion to the Cause

IMG_20160706_142728I must have been born feeling guilty.

It’s a strange thing.  As a librarian (80% of my time), when I take holiday, I take holiday.  I’m not expected to go on producing work from home.  As a researcher (20% of my time), the natural assumption would be exactly the same: holiday is holiday.  No-one has asked me to do otherwise.

But whereas I wouldn’t think of writing a report about some aspect of my library work, I regularly write about my research subject in my evenings at home.  (That goes back to my part-time PhD, when the only time I had for research was my own time.)

This week, I’ve been on holiday.  I’ve written a conference paper, and Storifyed someone else’s tweets about student induction procedures, so that I can retrieve them easily when I need them for my PGCert project.  I thought that the conference paper would assuage the guilt that “I should be doing something.” Well, it did – briefly.  Then I thought I’d read a book that I’d ordered in connection with my research.  In actual fact, it turned out to have little direct connection after all, but it was fascinating, a great read, so I’ve absolutely no regrets there.  I spent a bit of time transcribing someone’s early 19th century borrowing record.  And filed a few research notes.

Still the niggling little voice nagged on.  “You’ve got a grant to write.  You need to write it.  Saying you’re on holiday is a stupid excuse – it just puts off writing it when you’ve actually got the time to get on with it.”  Stop it, conscience.  I’m on holiday.

Eventually, I sat down and spent a couple of hours on it.  Just collating figures, but it will silence my guilty conscience until tomorrow!

Quick, get the sewing-machine plugged in. It’s the only activity that will truly distract me!

Shared Thinking

Yesterday, I saw on my Twitter feed that royal_york_hotelUniversity of South Wales librarian Sue House (whom I don’t know, apart from following her on Twitter!) was attending a conference about student induction, in York, run by a company called Shared Thinking.

When I realised she was sharing lots of references to names I’d never heard of, about things that might be relevant to my teaching practice, I decided I’d need to keep a note of them.  After all, she mentioned buzzwords like experiential learning, and student engagement and so on.

I decided I needed to hoover up as many relevant tweets from that conference as possible. I don’t know if others there were tweeting, but I think I have enough information to be going on with!   Bits of paper get lost, even saved Word documents can be forgotten. So this time I saved the whole thing to Storify and can go back to it relatively easily, as well as sharing with other people.  (I also looked up most of Sue’s citations and posted links to them. Might save time for me or someone else later on!)  Here it is:-

Shared Thinking: Student Induction Event (mainly as reported by Sue House)

(I might add that this actually validates much of my social media activity, because I am often thinking about quite serious professional issues as I tweet or react to tweets!)