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The Daily Connect

(1 min read) My first thoughts today were: every moment is now. We can. I am. Happy Friday!

I am one of those people who wake up feeling like that, and today was no exception.

(that’s my morning view. my photo cc licensed here)

Bursting with exuberance hits the spot nicely, so it’s a good time to reflect on yesterday’s Daily Connect.

What has connected courses meant for me?

connection, giving rise to a voice, reason to thoughts, tangible outcomes.

I still can’t get my head around that everyone doesn’t run a class online.My MUS654 open music course (all the sessions are on the tab on the menu bar, latest page here) has two weeks to run in this, its first iteration. I initially thought that connected courses was a gathering point for people who already did that, to form a community of people who did that, to build practice. So in the beginning when I signed up and there was a question on the form – are you a participant or facilitator? I thought, that’s odd… certainly they know the people who are on that staff page – they must mean who runs a course or who has only taken a course- so I ticked facilitator.

…aren’t I naïve!  – well I guess it was partly right as I worked closely with Jonathan on his trust content here, and he couldn’t mention that until afterwards.

I digress.

I remember that moment of signing up, and it was a bit like crossing a threshold.

I had done it. Committed to something. Declared I would take a risk, and through it I have met and interacted with some of the most inspiring thinking, educating, sharing people I have ever come across. It has taken me out of my daily existence and given me sight of others – glimpses into practice, flickers of personalities, and a host of ideas. Everyday can drag you down, not in a depressing way, but into detail, Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 07.54.03into minutiae, and connected courses has reminded me that all this time I have wings to stop that ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ feeling and fly above and look at the forest and even see the ocean or the desert if I want to.

So if it is about forming connections, then it has succeeded already. I value the connections. I value the encouragement. I value that I have risked connecting to others and I sincerely value that they have reached back. My mind sparkles a bit like the dance of a highly carbonated drink freshly poured in a glass or spring rain dancing on the pavement when I think what might come out of all these new connections. (photo cc licensed by me here)

If you haven’t joined the Connected Courses bus yet, there is room and your stop is on the map. You can bring a friend, and the ride is free, and as long as you are willing, you are guaranteed to learn.

Has that edge moved again?

I find that my edge is moving daily. What I used to think was the edge is now quite far behind me as my confidence grows and new connections become more integrated into my professional and daily life. It is like standing on the edge of the invisible bridge that is there if you trust or climbing a tree – every step that is new can feel like the edge, even if it is something that someone else has tested, if it is new for you.

I need to remember that for my students. My edge may be very different to their edge… and today is a day that they see their edge change under their feet as they cross the stage on graduation day. I have had several graduations, and it was the last one that really meant something. I owned it. I really felt that I had learned and earned and that I had gained something that would take me forward – not the piece of paper, but the experience and what I had produced. Some of the earlier graduations weren’t really anything. I did them, they were big, with big crowds and they were a big deal to my family, and I even got presents – but the last one, where my husband and children weren’t even allowed to be there (the two tickets went to overseas family) – That was the one that meant something to me.

For my students, I hope that they are able to really feel that this graduation means something to them today. That they value it, and that each of them can begin to see their edge move in a good way. That they feel that their skills and experiences are already taking them from where they were to somewhere new. Not just having jumped some hoops and leaving the test scores behind, but taking the experiences forward and letting them infuse into what comes next.

Today I am bringing my children to see what happens at graduation. No, they aren’t going to be in the ceremony. What I want them to see is the atmosphere, the shared respect for achievement, and the celebration. My youngest is in primary school and the older two are a few years away from university. They are each at a different stage in their own life and educational journeys. I don’t know if in their day-to-day learning and activity they have the opportunity to see why they are doing it – to dream – and what that means for their lives, and where can it take them. There is a big difference from the homework papers to life, and if I can show them a small vision, a tiny aspect of the big picture, the reason, and the value – then it is worth it.

See you there!

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Protected: The script: From practice to performance

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This story begins with a conversation on Twitter:

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Bring my A game?? A challenge???


The gauntlet has been cast5937288293_a50fca3d01_z

Photo CC licensed:

Jonathan, I accept the challenge to bring my ‘A’ game and I raise you to an A# game. (yes, that’s a sharp and not a hashtag) I present #MusicFood – or is it #MusicPhood? In our session today my students and I are planning to digest our notes.

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Music feeds the soul, and a bit of high grade cocoa powder helps too.

So, to the pholks at #phonar with your #phonarphood, I hope you haven’t seen the last of us…. we’ll be Bach. …and maybe one day you can join us!

Where’s your edge?

Photo CC licensed here: (3 min read)

Last night’s #ccourses webinar had some really inspiring moments, and several people picked up on Howard Rheingold saying “if you’re not falling off it, you’re really not exploring the edge.” (the full quote is below, and timestamps are from within the webinar for reference)

This really resonated with me. I believe it is very important to continually learn and to share this with my students and anyone I connect with. Sharing is new, new is daunting, daunting can be exposing if we are not sure how to recover from a stumble.

Gardner Campbell hit it spot on when he described students’ faux understanding of learning in the context of term papers of days gone saying:

“Imitating a spurious authority that they didn’t really believe people had…” (51:43) 

Oh my goodness, this is exactly why we need to allow students to see us on that edge, and yes, falling off the edge sometimes too. We need to show them that we learn, and how we do it.

Kim Jaxon raised a good point though about how “It doesn’t all have to be shared.” and there are limits. Laura Hilliger went on to explain that she keeps personal aspects of life separate, and that’s ok. Nobody would suggest that a window into learning, showing yourself walking that tightrope, should include everything. 

My question to all of us is where is your professional learning edge?

When something is new, we make a judgement about our capabilities, and this informs the course of action we choose, perseverance, the way we react in difficulty or failure – everything. This self-efficacy belief is important, and for our learners, they need to develop self-efficacy for the things they do – whether learning or performing. There have been various comments throughout these first few weeks of connected courses about learning how to … learn, trust, be, blog, … and yes, there are many learning how to aspects of what we do, and it is important to have models, and experience. Experience is the most informative teacher, but without the skill and belief – someone could easily dive headlong and end up doing a proverbial belly-flop, whereas if they see someone else (us perhaps?) teeter on the edge and sometimes wobbling, sometimes aceing it, sometimes falling a bit. As Harold said:

“I just want to reinforce that I am happy when I fail technically in front of my students, It gives me an opportunity to, first, say IF YOU’RE NOT FALLING OFF IT, YOU’RE REALLY NOT EXPLORING THE EDGE, and also to model what you do when you fail, which it – you try stuff – and I’d 95% of the time I can figure out what went wrong and how to fix it while they’re watching.” (32:13) 

This is learning how to learn for us, and teaching how to learn for our students.

What about connecting it up? I turn to Howard again:

“If you’re a bright person, a self-motivated person, and you don’t have access to great schools, or maybe don’t have access to schools at all, but you have access to the web- then you have access to great lectures, and access to other learners and to engage in an essentially social activity that learning has become” (48:00)

So how are you doing it? It could be small things or big things…

In the past I have put myself out there, in the student’s shoes in different ways – some private and some public. The most public was when I played a concerto a few years ago with the orchestra and having the students and the audience assess me just as the students are in their final performances… same assessment forms, same marking scheme. That was fun, but scary! and they were honest and it was a way in to assessment and the process for many of them.

The edge I am on now involves taking a singing exam at the end of the term. That may not sound scary, especially for a musician, but there are two reasons it is a big edge for me. 1. I had that dreaded experience where people told me ‘you can’t sing’ when I was a teenager. and 2. It isn’t just a singing exam, it is pop music. So this classically trained cellist is singing Joni Mitchell, Debbie Harry, and Mandy Moore, and the first reaction of people when I told them was to laugh. (!) I will be singing for my students as a stepping stone, and I it makes me nervous even to think of it, my edge. -but I love the challenge.

As for why we don’t share, I talked about that in my post yesterday for my own course MUS654 (scroll to the baby photo). It is important for me to show my students that they can explore what they like, that I will respect it, and that I will help them to learn as best as I can.

“It is important to impart the skill and thirst for learning. …they need to be equipped to learn on their own.” -Howard


Photo CC licensed here:

Halfway through MUS654: Are you finding your way?

Five weeks in… already?! So how is it going? Are you finding your way? What are you getting from MUS654?

My university students are drawing together a curriculum for a year’s musical tuition for a someone – the age, the level, the instrument is all up to them. You may be doing that too, or perhaps just following along and reading bits to stretch your musical brain.

(photo CC Licensed:

Someone asked me this week what did I want to accomplish with all of this?? and I said that I hope to give people the keys to think differently, to think about the things that they do or might be doing. Take a parallel, an analogy- when I came to London I didn’t like it.  As a post-graduate student coming from a different country, although London has a way, I couldn’t quite apprehend it – spatially, socially, or culturally – at least not in the space of those first 10 months I spent there. My experience involved carrying a cello an hour and a bit across London to and from music college where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t understand the routines or the ways it all worked.  I needed a key to somehow unlock the maze that I was busy running around in.

MUS654 is not an answer booklet, it’s no A-Z of teaching, but it is a catalyst, a tool to help you find or even custom-cut your own keys.  once you have the keys, you can have more freedom to go where you like. Think of the topics in the sessions as different houses, and we get to glimpse into some of the rooms – certainly not all of them – but a glimpse can give some insight into a topic or way of thinking, and you can take it from there. So far we’ve taken a tour of a neighbourhood of topics, and from here on out we are going to look at how to connect it up with both specific issues, and with links that bring the topics together.

Have you done a few tasks? Shared any thoughts or ideas? Commented on someone else’s tasks? Let’s hope so!


Timid? Quiet? Ah, perhaps that’s something deeply learned…  What are some of the first demands placed on a baby? What do the parents say? — Hush, don’t cry. DON’T CRY. HUSH. — as a mother of three, my heart sank a little bit. Yes, I did it too.

So could it make a little sense that children, that people, that we are reluctant to share things?Hopefully not. Please have a voice! As intellectually curious learners lets be keen to promote a culture of learning.

(Photo CC licensed:

 As you will know, we learn by doing, and so I hope that you are able to do some of the bits of MUS654 and sharing your creations and insights. Have a voice, as we make the learning community!

Here’s to the upcoming weeks,

(Session 6 is out on Thursday)



Writing with greats and randomness: reflections on the #dailyconnect

I loved the Daily Connect suggested by @dogtrax where we were invited to write something and various long-established writers would also contribute. It took me back to childhood days of playing on our Texas Instruments computer with a programme called Eliza. As far as I was concerned it was a great game where you had to outthink the questions and predicted direction of the auto-generation programme that worked hard to get the person at the end of the keyboard to avoid closed answers to questions. My goal was always to stump Eliza, and it was fun. There is a version of Eliza here that you can play with.

The daily connects are also fun. That’s what makes connection so great- I am not coming at it with a plan or an agenda – but just with an explore and to genuinely see what it is like to experience something of another person’s idea or something from their discipline or even from their teaching.

That random generator… apparently it uses something called Markov Chains and it has been used in more complex ways with surprising results. There are programmixn5es that compose randomly generated comments that we all see as spam on blogs (and our students get excited at the first one that almost makes sense, thinking it might be a real comment), but then there is also the random essay generator. Actually there are lots of these sites – I like the Postmodern Essay Generator. I just got this gem:

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What I love about these generators, is that people believe them! They have not only successfully generated whole essays, but this one from MIT’s SCIGen was accepted, yes actually accepted, as a conference paper. (the full paper is available here)

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As a doctor friend of mine likes to say – the mind boggles. (and I giggle)

I love codes, Easter eggs, and hidden things and meanings in general, but it can be a great tool when actually there is no meaning in it – randomness. I use the example to debunk the fears, assumptions, and expectations that my undergraduates have toward essay writing. Fancy words put next to one another don’t necessarily equal meaning. Sometimes fancy words are called for, but there is a time for simplicity too.


MUS654 Connecting the dots: Session 4

Session 4 is up and this week’s tasks are about connecting the dots. We hear perspectives from three different violinists (from L.A., Hawaii, and the UK) about how they connect their learning talking from Twinkle Twinkle to Paganini.

Listen, explore, experiment…



All the sessions are under the MUS654 tab:

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…or you could go straight to Session 4 with this link

Time for me to practice, teach, and talk to others.

Hope to meet you along the way!

Have a great day-