Category Archives: Presentations

Talking About Research

OK – since September, I’ve given four talks, with another to follow next week, and then a sixth in November.  In terms of both research activity and public engagement, I think I’ve been quite active!11228598145_661aa7a45d_z

In September, I talked about Instructions, Introductions, Treatises and Tutors: Music for the Regency Miss (Women and Education in the Long Eighteenth Century); then my Exchange Talk here at RCS: Meanwhile in Scotland, 1808.

Last week I did a Show and Tell talk at Martyrs Kirk research library in St Andrews; and yesterday I did an illustrated Music Talk in St Andrews: From Stationers’ Hall to St Andrews: late Georgian Music and Ladies of Leisure.karen-and-st-andrews-library-choir

 

 

Next week it’s the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society: The Legal Deposit Music of St Andrews: Scottish Airs, Irish and Hebrew Melodies, and other late Georgian Favourites.

And finally, on 16th November, the RMA Scottish Chapter (5.15, Room 2, Music Department, 14 University Gardens, Glasgow) – an approximate but not exact repeat of yesterday’s Music Talk.

rma-colloquia-autumn-2016

Meanwhile in Scotland … 1808 (Exchange Talk)

On S11228598145_661aa7a45d_zunday 2nd October, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is reenacting a benefit concert that was staged for Beethoven in 1808.  Details of event – click here.

But before that, on Monday 26th September at 6 pm I’m giving an Exchange Talk at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland  in the Ledger Room, to tie in with the 1808 theme.  Be prepared for an interesting auditory experience – we’re playing music that may not have been played for nearly two centuries!

Actually, the pieces by Nathaniel Gow are the most commonly known! Concerto Caledonia performed them on their latest CD, Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band.  (We have it in the Whittaker Library).  But there’s also an early Scottish song arrangement by Beethoven, a piano trio by Kozeluch, and a duet for harp and piano by Sophia Dussek.  Can you resist?

And this is what happens when music librarians get immersed in historical research!

Exchange Talks: Dr Karen McAulay– Box Office Link

Gearing up: Trimester 1

Girl on beach digging
Remember digging for information?

It’s that time of year again.  In order for our library teaching to take place, we need to get ourselves booked into our teaching colleagues’ timetables.  Every year our communications get a bit more finely-honed, and today’s is undoubtedly the best so far.  I’m emphasising the scope of what we can cover, and also clarifying the limitations of the traditional lecture format.  (We’re happy to work within it, but can do more in other teaching situations!)

“We’re trying to get organised bright and early this year. Colleagues will already have had an email asking for updated reading lists.  (Didn’t get it? Check your Clutter folder!)

“And now we’re offering our services to help inform and train our students in getting the most out of our library and electronic resources.

“We can talk about the catalogue; give an overview of particular electronic resources; explain how to access e-books and e-journals; give advice on referencing; or tell students about RefMe, a quick and easy way of saving bibliographic details for an assignment. We can give an overview suited to your students’ level, whether new undergraduates or more advanced students wanting to research information for their reflective journal. Or we can introduce some of our historical resources, if colleagues are teaching something that would be enhanced by them .

“We’re happy to appear at the beginning or near the end of a lecture or seminar – small chunks of information can be more palatable than a long spiel.  Obviously, we can’t arrange any collaborative learning activities in the context of a lecture theatre, but we’re very amenable to discussion as to how best to engage our students in other settings, if this would help.

“”Relevant and Timely” is our motto, so colleagues are urged to get in touch so we can organise our calendars accordingly.  Let’s start the conversation!”

 

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!

 

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.

50 Shades of Teaching Artist

To the teaching artists who work with clay, fabric, paint or in the performing arts, much of what I do must seem very far from teaching art in any sense at all.  Nonetheless, I teach performing artists, I’m a performer myself (albeit in a small, local way) … and my relaxation often involves textile arts, so yes, I’m a teaching artist.

I blogged earlier this week about my conference-attending this month.  You could argue that all conferences are learning opportunities – I’m sure my line-managers would agree! But what I’d like to pick out for special mention (in the context of being a teaching artist) is the Academic Music Librarians’ Seminar at the IAML (UK and Ireland) Annual Study Weekend. I was gratified to find that Adam Smith from the Royal Academy of Music had blogged about it on the IAML blog, so I saved the link, because it compliments my own notes from the session.

The sessions looked at different aspects of our work as music librarians, and obviously it’s about more than teaching library skills. We heard about user format preferences for different kinds of audio (vinyl is popular with jazz musicians!) – and electronic versus paper books.  We heard about library surveys.  Richard Chesser talked about research training programmes at the British Library, which cover a wide range of topics essential to researchers.  And we heard – as I’ve mentioned – about the RNCM’s use of a giant Snakes and Ladders board in their induction sessions.  I was also interested to hear that they run separate sessions for their international students. Speaking personally, I think I’d prefer to keep our brief library tours and then maybe have an extra session called ‘Meet the librarians’ which anyone could attend, but which would be particularly targeted at students from different cultures/ with hesitant English.

Karen took to the floor to host an open-participatory segment, asking those among us how we get the music from our collections off the page (if we do at all) and in through people’s ears – so as to promote the use of the collections themselves, not just the pieces being performed.

My own session was requested at very short notice, so I decided that leading a session and facilitating a discussion of practice was pragmatically the most feasible, but would also give me useful experience in this kind of seminar. After all, it wasn’t all about our practice at RCS, but simply sharing ideas about what works in terms of getting readers enthused about some of our most special, rarely seen items.  So I started by talking about some ventures that I’d encountered, in St Andrews, Oxford Bodleian and the Jerwood Library at Trinity Laban, and then invited everyone else to share their best outcomes.

  • Peter Linnett, Librarian at the Royal College of Music, explained that the library works with the performance department and in particular those concerned with historical performance. This leads to ‘exploring the archives’ sessions at which readers can see manuscripts, perhaps using materials to prepare for a concert. Crucially, such sessions get into the monthly RCM events guide.  They also have ‘Turning the Page’ postings on the website.  Peter also reminded us that the library doesn’t have to focus solely on big names – even highlighting minor composers or less flashy ‘treasures’ still shows what the library does and what it can offer.
  • Richard Chesser (British Library) told us about the live music element in what they do – eg, Chris Scobie had a live quartet playing Donizetti, and the Stefan Zweig collection of 120 manuscripts were drawn upon for a concert in the Wigmore Hall. Again, marketing and promotion are key – getting the library mentioned in the programme to highlight the importance and relevance of the materials that are curated in the collections.
  • Geoff Thomason (RNCM) cited public performances of Arnold Cooke’s 6th Symphony and a 1905 cadenza for the Schumann Cello concerto – emphasising, like Peter and Richard, the desirability of making sure the marketing department knows that the library has had input by making these special materials available to performers. He also stressed that related archival material can also be displayed in connection with library initiatives or public performances.
  • Roy Stanley (Trinity College Dublin) told us how the library responded to requests for increased access and publicity surrounding the Irish composer, Enid Boyle (fl. 1920-60s), by digitizing and making many of her manuscripts available online, and also encouraging postgraduates to make performing editions.  These might one day be published and made available to purchase. Roy also told us about library collaboration with the Irish Traditional Music Archive, in which ITMA published two volumes of the mid-19th century James Goodman’s tune collection, and put material on their website.  This led to performances, broadcasts, a CD and a symposium.  (I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to being a little envious at these remarkable outcomes!)

I am hatching a plan involving an exceptionally rare string quartet from the late eighteenth century, that we’ve recently acquired.  We have possibly the only copy in the UK.  Until I’ve had discussions with colleagues at work, I’d better not share what is (in my mind, at least!) a rather exciting idea – no praise like self-praise – but I can certainly say that I have learned lessons from the shared experience session that I led, and I’m hopeful that we might be able to facilitate quite an exciting event if all goes well.