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My100Days: Kodaly Event (sneak peek)

This Friday, October 18th I will present a public lecture and performance. The talk is titled ‘Learning Out Loud’ and it is a foray into the how, why, and what of learning. As is typical for me, I am putting myself out there. I never ask others to do what I am not willing to do myself and the hope is that through demonstration of the process, others will see a glimpse of ‘yes I can’ and know that it is there for them too.

I will start with a talk, and then play the cello. All around the room will be the evidence of my learning. Sometime early in the summer I decided to start learning out loud – on a platform that housed a collective of creatives all doing and sharing projects to gain feedback and deepen their own reflective practice. Yapnet is that home. I decided I would document my practice in preparation for this lecture/performance in a similar vein to the ‘My100Days’ projects that you can see on social media sites. This was different. I was not doing it for any public show, nor was I spending ages preparing and presenting a polished few seconds to demonstrate that day’s work. When I did decide to include my process in this presentation, and I gathered all the days documentation: words, images, audio clips, video – I had over 40K words, and oh so many videos (116!) of short passages, describing how to figure it out, some squeaks, some successes – all progress. Day by day. The audio and video will be shared via QR codes so, if they would like, people can genuinely have a window into what I did.

Learning out loud is not something we see often – perhaps we think it is too close to failure. Well, you only get anywhere by putting one foot in front of the other and I for one am stepping out. When I began this journey I never intended to share beyond the Yapnet community. The reflections are all genuine – when it goes well, I say, and when it’s tough, I say that too.

This event is going to be a talk, a performance, and an interactive instillation (and an installation too).

And, one more thing – excitingly, I ordered 100 cello themed cupcakes for the event. 🙂 Cake and Kodaly – what could be better!?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the documentation of my learning journey:

This was written on June 28th, 2019:

MY 100 DAYS: DAY 28

Well, you know what? That bit I worked so hard on? I learned the high sequence wrong. That’s right. How did I find out? I watched a video and thought, hey, is that famous person playing the wrong notes? His fingering didn’t match anything physically possible to play the pitches I thought there were.  … So I went back to the score and looked really carefully at the music, where I’d written ‘D’ over the note was supposed to be a ‘B’. I sometimes have a hard time counting leger lines, and have to put a pencil or my finger to count which one I’m one because I lose track, and sure enough, I miscounted and learned that sequence wrong. Fortunately it’s easier the way it’s written, and makes more melodic sense (haha, not surprisingly!!) but that’s ok. It’s easy to change.

I played the following two pages lots. Well for a half hour, which was all my right arm would allow today. I had a suite of vaccinations this morning in prep for a trip to speak in Brazil in August, and the nurse did say that my right arm (they used both!) would feel like someone swung a bag of bricks into it. At least my thumb doesn’t hurt!! 🙂

Those two pages. Notes up high and coordination. It was all about getting the patterns in my mind and ear. All three finger, four string chords where between chords you move up to beyond where you are, but to a place that was held by one of the higher fingers. You know the Harry Potter giant chess game in one of the movies, where they must move to the right places and sometimes it’s a perilous leap?

That’s it. Until it’s stable, then I’ll be like a parkour princess.

I leave you today not with a recording, but with the new skill at the bottom of the seventh page of mvt3 where I bow the bottom string with one finger on it, and also hold down the next string with that same finger and the other two strings with the middle two fingers AND THEN pluck the top three strings with my pinky.
yep. pinky.

#My100Days

100 Days of Practice …and Yapnet

#100Days

Yes, I did 100 days and I’m still going…

I’ve been at this Kodaly for a while now and I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of an artistic community where I can share my progress and talk through the processes I’ve undertaken as they have unfolded. Everyday I practise, and everyday I document what I’ve done. As I’ve gotten farther into the days (I’m now on day 113 and have since performed a movement and will run the piece tomorrow at an informal performance, in advance of the scheduled public lecture and performance on Oct 18) I wrote less detail – or maybe only specific details about what I was doing, and the genuine brain blips happen as well as being in different spaces or having pressures of the day encroach. That happened on Day 100. I was teaching all day (lecturing) and grabbed time to practise wherever and whenever I could, and in those settings sometimes switching it on is tricky.

Having that community of people there (at Yapnet) who might read, might comment, but are present – encourages me. I find solitary working very challenging, long term. I need people. I don’t need constant praise, critical eyes are good too, but as a person, as an artist, as a practitioner, I crave connection.

If you are an artist of any flavour (as in a person who does creative projects – in the medium of sound, colour, or words, movement, or some other medium – I invite you to be a part of this space where work can develop in the open (It’s a private open – and that’s why to publicly share what I wrote I have to physically paste it here. The rule of the site is respect and ownership -as in you own your stuff, and people respect that as an artist you are developing something and it doesn’t get shared unless you share it <– you own your stuff.) How do I know to trust it? I co-founded it and I also trust Geoffrey Gevalt, founder who has a mighty track record with creating the very successful Young Writers Project for teens, also founded on the same principles. I invite you to join us in developing your own creative pursuits. Learn our loud with us.

Anyway, here was my Day 100. I didn’t plan to share these, but was spurred to share by a conversation with a friend about self-talk. In these short videos the interesting bit is not the playing but the thinking- and talking. See the very end of vid 1 & 2 and the start of vid 3. got to listen to catch it. Remember these were practice clips – not intended for public screening – when I video my practise I am my own fly on the wall. Some days I run bits of movements, and on this one I captured a bit of process. Practise is lots of nuts and bolts sometimes.

Here’s my entry for Day 100 on Yapnet:

Gosh it feels good to write that. 100 Days. I feel a bit like I did something, and at the same time I’m glad there ismore road ahead.
It’s a helpful practice to notice where we’ve been and where we are now, and for me I keep in mind where I’m going next – but not to the detriment of being present now.

I did a chunk in the day at uni and then another chunk at home, late. It’s busy teaching week time and I did a bit more than 1 hr 15 but not massively more.

Mvt3 and I worked at it. At home I got through the rest of it and the major work from the day before paid off. Gosh I wish I had more time.

The clips show the trials of practice. In take1 who knows what I did – I realised there were some notes all up bow and it suddenly felt funny. It was akin to saying a word over and over and suddenly becoming aware of your tongue motion and then questioning


The pictures are the holding images for the videos on my iPad. They speak volumes 😉
everything you know. Take2 shows you my odd nature and how I, yes, talk to myslef. What you don’t see are the times I shouted COME ON. GET IT RIGHT and the like. Who knows what passers by thought (!).

The final one is a bit better and you’ll see I am getting more consistent – nearly got those flappy bits! 🙂

Oh to have more time!
#My100Days #YesICan



Learning out Loud, an update

My project to learn and perform the Kodaly Solo Sonata is progressing. Yesterday was day 88 of documenting my practice, and writing it all down, watching with a mixture of an external and internal perspective has been really interesting. Here’s page 1 from yesterday’s practice at 8am. I have just over a month to go. I hope you’ll join me at the talk and performance.

 

Recently I’ve noticed a change. I knew change would happen, but I didn’t know how or when. In the past week I began to plan performances – run-throughs for the piece in public settings, I started practicing in bigger spaces, and I started to work more holistically as well as in detail. Looking back I can see I definitely turned a corner, but I wonder if it is something someone could dictate and plan for another? Could I say that by day xx in learning you should know xxx or you should do this. Yes, really, as a teacher you do this sort of thing, but it also needs to be organic. It does not work to artificially say or dictate you must run the piece now – if the person hasn’t learned it.

What has been difficult for me?

Maintaining the drive consistently. I don’t mean motivation – I have plenty of that. I mean balancing the physical and mental energy needed to focus, alongside other strands of my life. The university term begins Monday and it has been a time of intense preparation and meetings. Family, home, others, and importantly – self are also important and require dedicated attention. For me one of the ‘self’ things that has become apparent is that I need to run. I mean that literally. I run 2 miles a day along the seashore. I am not competing with anyone for distance, form, or time but I am using my body and I find that without it I am more sluggish in the rest of what I do. The physical exertion really benefits everything and helps me to find balance.

If I have a whopping good day of practice and fit in several hours across the day along with everything else, it is hard to maintain that momentum for days on end without allowing something else to take a back seat. I guess what I’m saying is I admit to having a finite amount of energy and I need rest. Sometimes I forget that the opposite of go is rest, (not stop, rest) and where there is one, we need the other too.

This morning I have run. Now it’s time to practice before I turn my attention to family and the other things a Saturday can bring, including rest.

 

 

Musical Self-efficacy: Measurement and Assessment

I presented this lecture on Questionnaire Development to the graduate students of Psychology at the University of São Francisco, Campinas, Brazil on Monday, 19, August, 2019. I take you through the process I followed to develop questionnaires for Self-efficacy for Learning and for Performing in Music. Unfortunately I didn’t video this one. The slides and my full notes (nearly a transcript) are below. Read more

Brazil Keynote on Self-Efficacy

III Seminário Internacional Teoria Social Cognitiva em Debate

Slides, video, and transcript of my keynote from Brazil.

Laura Ritchie Keynote: August 2019, Brazil from Laura Ritchie

1. Thank you very much to the organising committee for inviting me and making this trip possible. It is an honour and a pleasure to be here.

In this talk I would like to speak about self-efficacy in higher education, its power, how we measure it, the relationship it has with other constructs and factors in our lives, and how as educators we can influence the self-efficacy of our students. Read more

Seeing the sound

I have been practising lots this summer, climbing the personal Everest that is the Kodaly Sonata for performances in October and November and I have been writing about it everyday. (no, not here, on a private, open/free to join, network where creatives share unfinished work)

Yesterday I wanted to share something I had realised in my practice. In the end of the Second Movement of the Kodaly Sonata, there are long harmonics, played by lightly touching the string with one finger of the left hand. The right hand is occupied by pulling the bow across the string, and the score calls for more notes to be played, pizzicato. To do this, you need to use some other fingers on the left hand. I figured out that to stabilise the harmonic while I used other fingers from the same hand to play pizz, it helped to slip my harmonic finger between the strings and rest it on the fingerboard. Good.

Well, I wanted to share this and to document it. All through my practice I have been playing with camera angles and showing the nitty-gritty up-close of fingers and bowing, and I wanted to show the finger placement in an effective way.

I ended up balancing the phone (camera) on top of my cello while I played. The cello rests on my chest (sternum) and I put a practice mute against my chest to act as a base for the phone, so it could lie on the top of the cello and have the camera bit hanging off the end, looking down the fingerboard. I recorded this once, at 7:30 am. It is genuine practice, and so not at all perfect, but what I saw was way too cool not to share.

THE PICTURE WOBBLES WITH THE LOWEST STRING.

How completely epic is that!?!?! I can’t quite get over it. 🙂

I’ve been practising: Kodaly

My cello project to document my learning of the Kodaly sonata every day leading up to a lecture and performance on October 18 at the University of Chichester.

Read more

Keynote: University of South Wales, Creative Industries Conference

What a pleasure to be invited to talk here. It is always with a combination of anticipation and excitement that I go to a new place. I was invited by Celia who is wonderful. She reminded me last night that we had never actually met in person. wow. We worked together on a project a couple of years ago, and we got to know one another – funny how online and face to face can bleed into one. It was lovely to meet in person and share time together.

The keynote:

The programme advertised my talk as something about student efficacy and resilience, and yes, I talked about that and about learning – learning out loud. (my chosen title) About 100 sat in the hall’s plush red raked seats. What great colours and a great design for the space, just what you would hope for from a university boasting an array of wonderfully creative programmes. The full keynote is embedded below and the slides have also been uploaded separately, here.

I owe a special thank you to Margaret, my volunteer, who risked learning in public and played beautifully. As a presenter, while I was speaking, I wasn’t sure what the general audience thought. They were listening, and it wasn’t until afterwards that the thoughts came out. Individuals said things as we passed in the corridor and met over coffee – there was connection, and just like the tapestry of connectivism that I talked about, it was wonderful that for each person, they took something slightly different, as related to their practice. I am very greatful for the chance to be here today. Thank you Celia for taking the risk and inviting me. Without the limitation of time, if I had all day I would like to say so many other things… On some topics I only alluded to the tip of the iceberg. Good thing I’m an explorer and I can guarantee I will keep walking and climbing, and falling down and getting up, and definitely connecting.

I would love to hear your comments. Please feel free to get in touch.

Jazz24Live – Reflections

The past 24 hours have been spent with a load of varied people coming together to play Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon, yes, FOR 24 HOURS without break. My friend, colleague, and head of Jazz at uni, Nick Reynolds had this idea of doing a big performance for International Jazz Day that started as a dream, but then when we were in America, Nick was really moved by the school we worked with and decided to use the occasion to raise funds for the school. (you can read about the event here)

Nick organised the players from the university community and I organised the logistics and the tech side of the event – so we could stream the full 24 hours and make this accessible for people to view and potentially join in. Together we made a good team and the event went off without a hitch. Many thanks go to all who helped from set-up of sound equipment, to the performers, to the student who brought us coffee just after 3am, and the audience – special shout out to our Deputy Vice-Chancellor who came three times during the 24 hours, and stayed until 3am !!! and also to David, the sax player from my community orchestra who came for over 12 hours of the event – was there at the 8am start and came back pre-dawn to play with us to the 8am finish.

What’s so special about this event? Why was it not just another concert?

It is a fairly unique situation and I’ll use an analogy to explain. Read more

Open: When my heart sings

Sometimes when we sit with those we respect, our teachers, friends, our elders, and we listen, our hearts open.

There are some people who are like sunshine or like water or like the breeze and have certain qualities that are both etherial and penetrating. Being with them ignites my mind and makes my heart smile.

These past few days I have been at a conference in Galway with wonderful and diverse people and I’d like to share two (of many) #smallstories that happened over the past few days.

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1. I sat at the table with Brady and Kate as they talked about life, and I mainly listened. Being in a new situation can be daunting. Sometimes we are afraid. It’s human; we’re human. We talked about retreat to the seaside to think and almost sit with the fear. – and being able to acknowledge it as a thing there next to you, yet look at it as something that perhaps can sit beside you and that’s ok. You could turn and look and say, ‘hello. I see you. You can stay there, while I go on. But yes, I see you.’

It was a powerful conversation, mainly Kate and Brady’s ideas, bouncing off one another. I listened and near the end could add something a friend and former colleague taught me: Everyone gets butterflies, the trick is to teach them to fly in formation.

There was much more, but that is not my story to tell. It was a gift to be at that table.

2. The previous day, in the big lecture auditorium I listened to the keynote panel. I had met the three women talking last year at a conference in Delft, when we sat at the same table for a meal. In the keynote, Taskeen spoke about teachers and not the content or the methods, but being present and the value of learning from life, citing a Mauritanian scholar. (you can hear her words here and they are transcribed below)

“In this epistemological foundation, it’s entirely different where just sitting with the teacher,  being in their presence, and following them around in their daily life is counted as valuable learning. because one can be blessed by their spiritual presence, and here the connection between the student and the teacher is one the heart and the soul and not just the mind. The teacher is not just the source of the knowledge, nor are they the facilitator of knowledge, they are the embodiment of knowledge, and who the teacher is is much more valuable than how or what they teach. My question to you is how do we even begin to bring such pedagogies into openness?”

This moved me, and I tweeted what an aspirational challenge I felt this was. I had a teacher like that.

Upon coming home I was asked what was the highlight of the conference for me. For me it happened after the conference. Everyone was invited to meet to carry on the conversation, and in the most unlikely setting, a pub, I stood eating cheesy chips talking to Taskeen as she sipped her pint of water. Amidst conversation about PhDs and publications, munching cheesy chips, laughter, and the loud music, Taskeen recalled that type of learning she spoke of in the keynote and gestured to me and Brady, saying, ‘It’s what we have here, I can feel it’. (Brady was my co-presenter at the conference, but is also my student). Whatever made her say that was a gift. I certainly wasn’t teaching anything and cheesy chips aren’t a pedagogical method and I don’t think somehow I became a guru. I do aspire to more moments of being teacher and learner and of being that way, and in the first story I was  that learner. My students (this time one student), colleagues, friends teach me so much.

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There is something that connected many participants at this OER19 conference – beyond the hope mentioned in the closing plenary. There is a concern and commitment to life, a noticing, a meeting of attention and intention to create and curate our lived experiences. I appreciate and value the people I met for the first time, friendships rekindled, and the time spent with people, sharing and learning from them, from their words, and from just being with them. My heart did a lot of singing. I am tired now, because of working hard, playing hard, and I feel completely overflowing with connection.

Featured image CC BY-NC by haRee

below are some comments that appeared on Twitter, but I wanted to keep them, so have posted them here too.