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Posts from the ‘Connecting Classes’ Category

Internationalising the curriculum

This post is a transcript of my speech at the Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar:  Innovation in curriculum design – internationalisation, employability and inclusivity, December 7, 2016

(5 min read)

My Lord, ladies and gentlemen, respected colleagues,

Twenty years ago as a student at university I experienced two types of curriculum: one stemming from a traditional textbook and a sage-on-the-stage, and the other based on praxis which was completely bespoke and co-developed. Perhaps I was lucky that this was not an uncommon feature of studying music performance.

Then in 1999 the Boyer Commission produced an Academic Bill of Rights. Its preamble states that a college or university should provide ‘maximal opportunities for intellectual and creative development’ of its students (p.12). The first right is that students should have ‘opportunities to learn through enquiry rather than simple transmission of knowledge’ (p.12). These are both essential.

Since that Bill of Rights, enquiry that crosses intellectual and physical borders has become an everyday reality at our fingertips, and Internationalising the curriculum is one way to expand our student’s experience, encourage and develop connection, and prepare our future graduates to successfully meet the demands of a continually developing workforce.

I will outline how I do this in my own practice as Teaching Fellow at the University of Chichester, and present various methods and tools that can be embedded within your own curriculum, no matter what the discipline.

Definitions of employability have expanded from the outdated view that simply developing the required skills or knowledge is enough, to now include an array of wider, and less discipline-specific qualities: from organisational and management skills to self-beliefs.

The ‘USEM’ model of employability: (Knight and York, 2004) includes

  • Understanding
  • Skills
  • Efficacy beliefs
  • Metacognition

And it reinforces the importance of enabling student experience and engagement with applied processes. It reframes knowledge as understanding and recognises an element of deeper learning. Metacognitive processes underpin many aspects of strategic and self-regulated learning, and without efficacy beliefs these could not be combined into successful self-management, academic achievement, or eventually into effective employee performance. (see Brigstock, 2009; CES, 2009; Pegg, Waldock, Hendy-Isaac, & Lawton 2012)

The Institute of the Future, a California think-tank, recently published an article containing this infographic about emerging ‘new’ types of jobs, born out of our on-demand economy. These resonated with me, as in music, graduates seldom have a singular fixed professional destination.

I use internationalisation in a way that amplifies individual creative development and intellectual enquiry, addressing:

  • Gaps between institutional life and the working world
  • How students transfer their knowledge…into something relevant to their professional lives
  • How to develop employability and entrepreneurial thinking

These are derived from benchmarking goals in the Polifonia Handbook: Combining a research orientation with professional relevance, published in 2014.

I embed teaching methods within the curriculum that foster international interaction between and across disciplines, such as using technology to connect to other learners and teachers. I believe it is essential to engage with students, peers, industry partners, and the wider community across the globe. Specifically in my teaching I use:

  • screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-09-07-41Public outreach and engage students via Twitter,

    because it is a platform well populated by professionals, and allows students to engage either as themselves or with a pseudonym of their choice.

Connecting Classes began with Jonathan Worth and his use of the hashtag as an educational tool for his photography class #Phonar. With this methodology, short videos or audio are shared online and people are invited to use a specific tag for discussions. Students Tweet their notes, comments, and questions, and often draw other professionals into large-scale group discussions. This provides students with a rich resource for further research.

  • I also use webinars and hangouts featuring student-led discussion with international practitioners.

An excellent example of this practice established for the educational community is Virtually Connecting, which brings keynote speakers from international conferences into contact with other teachers and students across the world through live, online hangouts. Maha Bali co-founded Virtually Connecting. She lives in Egypt and recognised the need to connect and the practical limitations of travel and cost that affect educators and learners.

Virtually Connecting sessions include people ‘on-site’ as well as a virtual room full of guests- teachers, students, people from across the world. This real-time interaction and engagement with professionals across disciplines is invaluable for all involved.

  • And finally an example of a change to the curriculum itself is my International Experience Module.

This development was driven by students. They wanted to go beyond technological connections, and formalise these interactions, making them face-to-face. Students led the first iteration of these trans-continental experiences, and that trip served as a proof of concept and model for the module that now runs as part of the undergraduate Music with Instrumental or Vocal Teaching Degree.

Students are responsible for the details from planning the logistics of travel to the content of what happens with partners when abroad. Moving away from a textbook based curriculum, they now have to consider, plan for, and anticipate aspects of inclusivity, communication, and cultural sensitivities they might encounter in practical settings. My current group includes a blind student, others with dietary allergies, and of course, musicians from different stylistic backgrounds. There is a host of planning and management skills on top of the musical preparation required, and the students relish it.

Stepping outside the classroom provides immersion and means that:

  1. Students have ownership of their learning and actions
  2. Learning is integrated into life, where theoretical knowledge is applied and tested through experience
  3. Students actively reflect and practice real-time accountability as they learn.

Although when my students travel with me to America, English is a common language, there are distinct cultural differences when traveling to any other country, and effective relationships and communication take forethought and sometimes situations required careful navigation. Embracing differences of those beyond your ‘home’ community can facilitate promotion and reflection on civic agency, another important quality for us and our students to develop.

Not every programme can be expected to include a full international experience module, but there are certainly elements of both cross-discipline and cross-cultural communication that can be embedded into any curriculum, whether through a project like Connecting Classes, using hashtags on Twitter, or through other bespoke online projects.

Connection, communication, and learning all encompass far more than theoretical subject-knowledge. Within music, sound, and playing the instrument is a small part of teaching and professional interaction. Music requires confidence – self-efficacy beliefs, communication, everyday organisation, management, and interpersonal skills. By building and applying transferable skills alongside the discipline-specific skills, students are more prepared to step out and carve a niche in their future professional world. What better way to do that than as an active participant in various international fora? It does mean that we the teachers need to do significant networking, learning, and groundwork in order to fully participate and keep abreast of the changing landscape. It is worth the effort.

The world is a constantly developing place and even those we perceive as most distant to us are actually closer neighbours than we know.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-09-15-39

Romantic composers and conductors: #CClasses

Join us this week as we talk to a composer, conductor, and then listen to what notable Romantic composers and conductors had to say about thier experiences in the 1800s. This is our last official session in this semester’s Connecting Classes project. I say official, because this session where we tweet our notes is part of a research project that focuses on three session, so the project will end, but the methods… Well, we will keep using them as we continue to learn and meet as a class throughout the semester.

This week you are invited to listen in with us this Friday and tweet comments, notes, and questions. We will be listening live at 10:30 am GMT, and I very much hope that will be the start of an ongoing conversation. Whether you join in with the live discussion, or you listen later, share your thoughts on Twitter by using the hashtags #MUL316 and #cclasses .

I have prepared three audio files (~18 min in total):

  • We begin by examining a conductor’s approach to Romantic music and the orchestra in an interview with conductor Christopher Slater (4 min 35)

  • And move to a compilation about the Romantic composers on conducting and approaching the music. You will see that I have used as many actual quotes as I could, and these are represented by other voices. 🙂 (8 min 47)

  • To an interview with composer and conductor Adam Swayne about his own approach to the score and conducting as a composer. (4 min 43)

I would like to thank the many volunteers who read the words of composers and their friends to help make the audio more engaging and easier to follow. References used to source quotes in the second audio file are listed below…

5528712669_0e0f77d1c5_zImage above, CC BY-NC by James Savage, Featured image CC BY-NC by Penn State

  • Bamberger, C. (Ed.). (1965). The conductor’s art. McGraw-Hill.
  • Biba, O. (1979). Schubert’s Position in Viennese Musical Life. 19th-century Music3(2), 106-113.
  • Komorn, M., & Strunk, W. O. (1933). Brahms, Choral Conductor. The Musical Quarterly19(2), 151-157.
  • Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 10:47 (1839)
  • Wagner, R. (1887). On conducting. W. Reeves.
  • Walker, A. (1987). Franz Liszt: The Weimar Years, 1848-1861. Cornell University Press.

Romanticism: It’s happening! #CClasses

This is session two of three in this round of the Connecting Classes project. What’s happening here is a different sort of teaching where actually you control the pace, and how and when you pause, reflect, and interact with both the content and with others. For this class, we have core lectures like many classes, but we do various things alongside this project as well. I record/archive all my lectures so that students can look back for a particular reference or find a bit of analysis that they might have missed or not quite taken in during the class. We use of an interactive reading list, so they can click straight through to the university’s subscription material and have the references I’ve used at their fingertips. This Connecting Classes project is one more way to engage, and for me it is possibly the most fun.

The idea (for those of you not in the room) is that we, who are in the room will all be listening and commenting on the three interviews below. We will use our own devices to listen. That means the room will look odd to a passer-by. They might peep in and see a room full of silent people with headphones on who are tapping into computers or their phones. I promise we are all on task! As we listen, we take notes and all our comments, ideas, questions, are typed and shared as Tweets. The tiny detail that makes this useful and a pedagogical tool is that we TAG our notes with both the project hashtag and the class hashtag:

#CClasses #MUL316

The beauty is that you (who could be across the world) are also welcome to join in when and where ever you can. The value of using Twitter is that anyone can join in, and with the tags, we can add your comments to our group notes. The live event is happening today, 4 Nov. 2016 at 11 am GMT, so you will see lots of activity then…

Let’s get to it!

Today we are listening to three interview with professional musicians on the topic of Romantic Music. They total 30 mins, and I suggest you give yourself an hour to listen and comment. If you can look on Twitter for the hashtag #MUL316 you will see other people’s comments too and maybe you can reply to someone – you may have the answer they are looking for! Enjoy!

  • 25961d_6941cf070a1542ae927abe640afaa362-jpg_srz_325_257_85_22_0-50_1-20_0Our first musician is Katherine Schultz, a cellist from Portland, Oregon. She speaks to us about practising and approaching this music in the following 10 mins. of audio.

  • 2bii-j-plowright-photo-2-reduced-for-web-page1Next Jonathan Plowright, concert pianist and Head of Keyboard at the University of Chichester, speaks about understanding and context within this music. He himself is preparing to record the complete piano music of Brahms:

  • 0lb7vgkcFinally we hear from a vocalist. So much of the great Romantic music literature is for voice. Mezzo-soprano and Head of Voice at the University of Chichester, Susan Legg (@susanlegg) takes us through the first song in a song cycle Frauenliebe und-leben by Schubert, identifying key features and explaining how the voice and piano work together with the words. She finishes the interview by performing the song. Beautiful!

I am hugely grateful to our musicians for allowing me to interview them, and for their willingness to share their expertise and knowledge with us.

Please keep listening and adding comments. This is meant to be a catalyst for further discussions and is by no means limited to the 11am time slot. If you tag them #CClasses and #MUL36 I will be able to find them and add them to the story! (I will share that via this website, so the public can see)

 

Join us next week as we hear from composers and conductors on their views about having their music performed and performing the music of others (relating of course to Romantic composers!). I am telling you the topic in case anyone would like to do some prep homework and come up with a spectacular reference to the views of a known or unknown Romantic composer on this topic for our discussion next time!

Laura

Featured image CC BY-NC by Smackfu

Romanticism comes to life with #cclasses

I am genuinely very very excited for this Friday’s session in my Romanticism lecture. Really. In it we’re joined by three distinguished guests who each bring Romantic music to life through their experience, understanding, and advice. Three perspectives by hugely respected professionals. wow.

It will all make sense on Friday.

For now, just mark your calendar for Friday 4 Nov. 11am GMT. Whether you are a performing musician or not – this is something that especially musicians, but anyone interested in learning, connection, and personal perspective will find fascinating.

Join us on Friday as we listen to

  • Portland-based cellist Katherine Schultz take us through aspects of preparation and practising.
  • UK concert pianist Jonathan Plowright discusses interpretation.
  • UK mezzo soprano Susan Legg takes us on an in-depth exploration of the first song of Schubert’s Frauenliebe und-leben, and finishes her interview with a glorious impromptu performance of the song.

They each bring the topics we have been studying to life. I interviewed them all – Today I conducted the final interview and am in the process of uploading the audio to archive.org (now) all ready for Friday’s session.

If you cannot join us exactly at 11 am (for example if you live in America and you might be sleeping!), it is perfectly ok to listen later and still join in our twitter conversation. Just tag your tweet with #CClasses and #MUL316 . People will tweet back and I genuinely look forward to the conversation unfolding.

I created this content because of the research project Connecting Classes, but it has become much more a way of learning and teaching for me than a ‘project’. The other day it dawned on me just what is possible with this Connecting Classes project. As a common theme in all connecting classes session, there is some sort of pre-recorded content that the live class focuses on during the session. They engage with it and tweet their notes. (We will be using the project tag #CClasses and our class tag #MUL316 ) In the original version by Jonathan Worth, he used audio content, but others have used video, and I don’t see why a text couldn’t be used – these things are made to be sprouted, riffed on, and remixed. Last semester, I created my own content (with the help of the students) and we used the pre-recorded aspect of the project as a springboard for what we were studying, to focus discussions and to lead us to external connections and resources, but also to connect to our individual interests.

That connection is key in my view.

Take our class for example. In this historical period, Romanticism, there is SO much variation and such a sheer volume of music. One composer wrote 600 songs and another wrote an opera that literally takes close to 24 hours to perform. As a teacher I know it is important to study a topic and all around the topic. How important it is to understand the application of the topic, and digest the topic, and then put that knowledge to use – but sometimes it all takes years to realise and internalise, and it can be hard going as an undergraduate. Sometimes, just sometimes, (just saying), studying the music of bygone times is not the most thrilling aspect of a young performer’s education….

UNLESS IT RELATES TO YOU PERSONALLY.

and oh my goodness, this does!!!

As a student it can be difficult to study the music of an instrument you do not play, read, and analyse, and somehow have it inspire and move you. I want to be inspired and I want my students to be inspired. Textbooks aren’t always the most inspirational, but people and stories, now I love them. Please don’t get me wrong – I am not skimping on the content one bit, and I am a big advocate of research, journal articles, and primary source information. In fact the short interviews that we will listen to Friday morning will supplement and point to further resources and inspire people to make connections. Perhaps it will lead listeners to have an ‘a-ha’ moment of really find meaning in the detail and the process….

Mark your diary. This Friday, 11 am. I will post the content here and will tweet the links. I promise you are in for a treat. You will find beauty, simplicity, and wonderful musical insight.

I am very grateful for the generosity of my guests.

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 image CC BY-NC-SA by philHendley

Featured imageCC-BY by Alan Kuruz

Reflecting on CClasses: We learn differently

It’s 3:15 am and I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about and reflecting on how we learn and what we want to get out of our learning. I am thinking about my Romanticism class that is taking part in the Connecting Classes project. What do we want… Perhaps that is the greatest starting point – to want to get something out of it. In my teaching, in my life, I admit to starting from my own perspective (I suppose in psychology terms each person’s perspective is the ultimate starting point) and then I work out to see how I can understand an experience and best shape it for my fellow learners. What can I use to supplement or enhance? How can it be relevant to that person’s driving passions in music? How can we engage in learning together? How can we amplify each other’s experience? Read more

#CClasses: Connecting classes & connecting composers

This semester my students and I are taking part in a research project led by Jonathan Worth at the Open Lab at Newcastle University. It is a project that makes use of creative, innovative, and practical pedagogical tools – right at our fingertips (more literally than you know!). It’s based on using Twitter as a ‘hub’. There are may ways of engaging with content and gathering information, and one of the biggest challenges today is to find common ground, or I should say a common platform. Some people use Slack, some Facebook, some Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Evernote, -I have even heard of some people who like to write things down on paper. The point is that there are many ways to gather thoughts and information, and having many people with individual ways can be brilliant as it means that you can choose what suits you best. However, there are times when finding unity is useful.

This project sets out to do just that: provide a space for engagement, inquiry, reflection, and comment. Twitter is useful in that comments are in real time, they are short and sweet, and they can be identified with a hashtag. That means I (or anyone) could collect the tweets about a certain subject, or with a certain hashtag.

We are exploring using this method of ‘group-sourcing’ our thoughts and research on a topic in relation to musical composers in the 1800’s – during what is known as the Romantic Period. In a parallel to the possible ways of taking notes, I realised there was a similar scattering of material about composers.

When does this happen? Our first #CClasses session is Friday 21 October at 10 am.

Let me explain how it works:

I am fascinated by the interconnectedness of composers. In this period in history, seemingly more so than in the previous century, people have both access to music and listening. This was due to printing of music and to the rise in popularity of the piano as an instrument. When you begin to look at even a few of the most commonly discussed composers like Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Berlioz, Brahms… (and the list does go on) the connections between them are astounding. People heard one another’s works. They played one another’s works. They copied one another’s works. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a resource where some of the interpersonal connections were mapped out?

Yes, yes it would be! I found just that sort of resource for composers of the 1900s. screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-19-21-12

It’s HERE. Go ahead and click through. There are two or three clicks, and then you come to the ‘composer wheel’. (screen shot –>) As an interactive, at your fingertips type of resource, it is a great idea and so useful. If you wanted to take any of these connections further, they could definitely be researched. What a great starting point!I know there could be any number of different types of connection created here, and a very critical person could ask for more or question why these were chosen, but I love it!

So what am I proposing for this session?

WE DO IT TOO.

just for Romantic composers. Here’s a short 3 min snippet of me explaining what I’m proposing:

I love the connections, inspiration, links between art, music, literature, friendship, and countries. Let’s make a map of composers.

Our own composer wheel.

You provide the tweets about the connections:

WHO: composers

WHAT: type of music

WHERE: cities/countries

STYLE: dances? nationalism?

POETS

(for those who wrote songs)

There could be any number of topics. Feel free to suggest composers, topics, links

Please tweet any contributions and tag it all #MUL316 and #CClasses

I look forward to you joining us tomorrow at 10am for the online discussion as we spin our topics in our live class at the University of Chichester. You are ALL invited to join in. Tweet at ANY time – if you can join us live at 10am UK time, FAB. Any other time will do too!

Featured image CC BY by Pedro Ribeiro Simões and on his flickr page, he shares (from Wikipedia):

Fado (translated as destiny or fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. In popular belief, Fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. However, in reality Fado is simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain structure.

The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade (that has no match in English but it could be understood as nostalgia felt while missing someone), a word describing a sentiment. Another similar English translation can be to pine for something or someone.

Some enthusiasts claim that Fado’s origins are a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors and Arabic influence. ….

…maybe we should start there, with our first contribution via this photographer.

#CClasses #MUL316 …and look out for our next two sessions in the coming weeks where we listen to and discuss views of performers and then composers.