About Me

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Illinois, United States
I am a band director at five private schools in Kankakee. Music is a big part of my life, but knitting and crafting are right up there too. I own a ridiculous stash of yarn, which I am slowly using... and replacing with better yarn... I tend to knit and crochet a lot, in class, out of class, while watching tv, while driving, pretty much constantly. I have been involved with crochet romantically for 15 years, and involved with knitting for 11 years. They sometimes get jealous of each other. I think its funny. Along with knitting and crocheting, I quilt, spin (drop spindle) and design patterns!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday: Day 9- Halfway Through, Wednesday: Day 10

We observed at Zollberg Realschule. Refresh- It is the middle level school, between the Hauptschule and the Gymnasium. Students here had the middle/average test grades.

The Principal was sick the night before, and yet still came in so we could ask her questions! Very nice of her. WE talked with her for two hours... More than we needed, but we got a bunch of information out of her. ( The light is off in our hotel room right now, since we needed to open the windows because of the heat (no air) but the bugs outside come inside when the light is on.
So I cannot read my notes. )

But she and the secretary had this table set up with the most amazing pretzels I have ever tasted. And we at sooooo many of them... sooo many.
I cannot wait to start counting calories and working out again when I get home. I simply cannot wait. You know all that weight I lost? With eating bread constantly here in Germany(its the thing to do...) I'm sure I put some of the weight back on. So heres to working out for the rest of the summer! :)

We went out to dinner afterward in a 700 year old wine cellar called Einhorn. (Unicorn) WE drank rose wine made in the town we are staying! Esslingen is known for its vineyards. And the wine was actually pretty darn good! I don't even drink wine!
I got a great dinner. I ordered Maultaschen, which is almost like a pasta lasagna, but not... In a beef and onion broth. So good. So amazingly good.

The entire group!
Outside of the wine cellar restaurant.

Today I got to observe in a Musik class! General music, 5th and 6th grade, because the Realschule is a sport oriented school. They do not have a band class like most American schools. If a student is going to play an instrument, the parents have to pay for private lessons outside of school. If they wanted to be in band, they have to already know how to play their instrument. THey would not be allowed in the band program if they could not play.

In America, we teach students to play. We are the teachers.
In the school we were observing today, (and yesterday) The general music class does not learn with recorders, which American schools tend to gravitate towards. I would choose a recorder because its hand positions are like most woodwinds. The students can learn notes, and become accustomed to where the hands and fingers fall on a regular instrument.

In this school, the students learn on Harmonicas. They say it is easier, but I am skeptical. Then again, I have never tried a harmonica. (New goal for this year!)

I asked the teacher why they do it this way, and she told me that its easier to play. She is not looking to get students used to holding their hands and mouths a specific way. Rather she is looking to help the students learn the notes and rhythms with ease. Learning an instrument is not the music teachers responsibility.

We started out the lesson with some singing, and some harmonica playing. Then switched over to music theory. In 6th grade... I never got music theory in 6th grade...

She was working on intervals with the students. (How far one note is from another) The first exercise: she had two notes written in, and the students had to answer how far apart the intervals were. After they finished that, they stood up and did a clapping Call and Response exercise. (just to keep their attention on the work, and not on goofing off) Then she did the next examples, where the first note was written in, an then the number of the interval. The students went around saying what the second note should be.

Then they did another singing/dancing exercise.

Back to the third example- She would play each interval, and ask them which song it sounded like. They threw out answers. Somewhere over the rainbow (first two notes) is an octave.
This is not something I did until college. As a music major. IN COLLEGE....


These kids make me feel dumb...

ANd this was not even a music school!! I cannot even imagine the theory and aural training that would happy in a music specific school. The gymnasium we went to the first two days was a music school... I just missed out on all the music days... Sigh...

The 5th grade was working on Peter und der Wolf.

"Peter and the Wolf (Russian: Петя и волк, Petya i volk), Op. 67, is a composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 in the USSR. It is a children's story (with both music and text by Prokofiev), spoken by a narrator accompanied by the orchestra." Wiki

She put up pictures of each of the animals and people in the piece, and asked the students to name some characteristics of each animal/person. (Wolf-mean, scary Peter-playful, quick....)

Then she asked them to name instruments that would fit each character. After that was all written down, she played an except for each character and compared answers.

"Each character in the story has a particular instrument and a musical theme, or leitmotif:
Bird: flute
Duck: oboe
Cat: clarinet
Grandfather: bassoon
Wolf: French horns
Hunters: woodwind theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum
Peter: string instruments"

They did pretty darn good in connecting the character with the instrument! I am positive I would not have done so well if I were in their position years and years ago. I don't believe I really knew Peter and the Wolf much until my college career!

The story of Peter and the wolf if you do not already know:

"Peter, a young boy, lives at his grandfather's home in a forest clearing. One day Peter goes out into the clearing, leaving the garden gate open, and the duck that lives in the yard takes the opportunity to go swimming in a pond nearby. The duck starts arguing with a little bird ("What kind of bird are you if you can't fly?" – "What kind of bird are you if you can't swim?"). Peter's pet cat stalks them quietly, and the bird —warned by Peter— flies to safety in a tall tree while the duck swims to safety in the middle of the pond.

Peter's grandfather scolds Peter for being outside in the meadow ("Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?"), and, when Peter defies him, saying that "Boys like me are not afraid of wolves", his grandfather takes him back into the house and locks the gate. Soon afterwards "a big, grey wolf" does indeed come out of the forest. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck, who has excitedly jumped out of the pond, is chased, overtaken and swallowed by the wolf.
Peter fetches a rope and climbs over the garden wall into the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf's head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose only gets tighter.

Some hunters, who have been tracking the wolf, come out of the forest ready to shoot, but Peter gets them to help him take the wolf to a zoo in a victory parade (the piece was first performed for an audience of pioneers during May Day celebrations) that includes himself, the bird, the hunters leading the wolf, the cat and grumpy grumbling Grandfather ("What if Peter hadn't caught the wolf? What then?") In the story's ending, the listener is told that "if you listen very carefully, you'd hear the duck quacking inside the wolf's belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive."

Eastern Illinois' Orchestra did this a few years back. I absolutely loved it!!!

I know I left a bunch out because I am not reading my notes.. All... 10+ pages of them from today and yesterday. So when we get back from our trip tomorrow I will make sure to post all the interesting things we learned from the Realschule Student counsel, and vice principal!

Tomorrow we are heading to a concentration camp. It will be a very solemn day for us I am sure...


Cat said...

why are they learning on harmonicas? on my school we had flutes and harves when we were small and of course you could be part of the orchestra (either the one for the small ones or the advanced one). i decided not to have music class any more because the theoretic part was just too heavy (we were taking apart an opera called "wozzeck" by alban berg). i always enjoyed the experimental music classes when we would acctually play (usually percussions) but allways hated the theory (because i did not play any instrument very well and i had difficulties with notes).

oh i miss maultaschen!!! i will have to eat a ton of them when i get to germany...(you can only get them in the south/southwest of germany)

luganknitter said...

I am not 100% sure why they are using harmonicas... It does not make much sense to me. But they are one of the only schools that use harmonicas.

So I guess its just preference?