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Posts tagged ‘CCourses’

Invitation to collaborate #MUS654 2016

There are many different ways to learn, and in music there are countless hours spent in the practise room, working toward performance. All that independent work comes to fruition when we collaborate, whether that is with other performers on stage, with a teacher in a lesson, or with the listener – reacting and developing that real-time relationship that is unique to musical sound. MUS654 is a space, a place, a chance to develop skills, deepen your perspective, and learn from someone who does things a bit differently to you. It could be that you learn from a pianist, or a clarinettist, or a sax player, and you may have never considered things as they do. This is a chance to stretch the horizons and explore.

It is also something that my university students studying Music and Teaching (like private teaching, running a studio class) will be following to supplement one of my lecture classes. It is meant to probe your knowledge, open the doors to new ideas, and help you to create for yourself.

Join me and my university students as we experiment with the components of musical learning, perusing how we understand and explain foundations like rhythm, pitch, and the mechanics of sounds, and the higher level concepts like what actually makes a curriculum for learning – instead of vaulting from one piece to the next. We explore question like how do we teach expression, how do we ourselves express? We challenge ourselves to look through the lenses of someone else, and maybe not to look at all, but to listen…

This is the third year I have put weekly pages online, and this year I strongly urge people to blog. Blog blog blog. It doesn’t have to be epic, or complete, or even erudite. Nothing fancy – just your reflections on the topic, task, and what other musicians have to say on the topic. I was incredibly daunted by the idea of blogging at first. It felt strangely exposing, or something. I think it just felt new, and sometimes not having things defined is tricky. The thing is, writing is a form of communication and as musicians, we do a lot of communicating. Sometimes we are lucky not to have to use words, but learning to use words is a discipline in itself, and as a teacher it’s pretty useful. When you blog about things in these pages, tag it #MUS654 and tweet it, or post a link in the page comments (or email me if you don’t tweet!).

So, I hope you’ll join me. Main pages are under the #MUS654 tab up top on this website, and I’ll do blog posts about the different topics and tasks.

What’s new this year? I do have some surprises to add along the way. I’d like to try my hand at some group annotation this year, so people can collectively comment on a page, actually on the page and we can see what people have to say all in one place. I have also recorded a couple of interviews… always something new to add 🙂

Any questions, please ask! In the meantime, if you don’t have a blog… get making one! They can be free and take literally minutes to set up.

You can tweet me @laura_ritchie or email on mail @ lauraritchie.com (no spaces)

We start the Week 1 topic Thursday 15 September and keep going until December. Hope you can join us!

Laura

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I saw your light

When you (or I) light that candle there is no telling how far the light will extend, how many lives it will touch now or in the future, and how many other candles will be lit from it. 

This morning while still in darkness, with sounds of wind kicking up and splaying bouts of rain on the house I read something from one of those unmet friends – one of the connections from the land of the Internet. Gardner Campbell very eloquently told a story of connection, meaning, and value in his blog post from today (well last night still on his half of the world) and I kept thinking yep, hey, I know exactly what you mean. I don’t want to spoil his post by telling you all about it – you should definitely read every word of it. It is not an academic article – it relates to everyone who has ever met another human being and been affected by their words, touch, or presence and felt that sense of connection – the gratitude that gives you a resonance of warmth, and then if you let it, radiates from you.

The glow of Gardner’s post, that light from his ‘Candle in the window‘ as he called it was felt across the ocean. I have to admit it took me two goes to read it – I saw his initial tweet and Candle in the window is a children’s Christmas song in the UK and it happens to be the one you hear at school with the class half-singing to a cheesy CD backing track – and as a performing musician not quite learning things right sometimes makes me cringe. Because of that association, I didn’t click the link on his original tweet, but then it popped up again on my Twitter feed:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 07.39.09

– and this time I clicked on it.

In this fast-paced now-land that we live in, the million instant views of a video clip on facebook (with all the autoplay on devices) is very appealing and I too find myself thinking wouldn’t it be nice it…. one day I’ll figure that all out. In the meantime I really really like the idea of the unmet friends. -and Gardner, when we do meet there’s a lot of catching up to do since we last met virtually on that last webinar of Connected Courses. Remember I improvised a bit on my cello for the first time live on air? My candle was lit then; I borrowed some of the fire from your flame.

When someone else lights their candle from mine, or I from theirs, is not diminished (we all know that Buddhist saying). Recently I’ve been reminded about the importance of telling people what they mean, what they do, thank you. In academia we call it feedback. In life we call it communication. Whatever the label, it is important and how else can we know? When tragedy does happen, there are often fantastic eulogies, and the dead person finally gets told so much, but shouldn’t living ears hear those words? The important thing is that we stoke the fire while it burns.

Keep blogging. You’ve got something to say and it’s not falling on deaf ears.

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Image CC BY-NC by Santanu Vasant

Featured image (top) by Diana CC BY-NC-ND

 

A story of connection

A friend of mine asked for some stories of connection for an upcoming conference presentation he is giving… and here’s mine. (Alan, you’re in it!) It is yet another little glimpse into the #Musiqualiy story, and the stories keep folding and unfolding. Intricate as fractals.

 

 

#Musiquality adventures in Open Source Learning

The first Open Source Learning collaboration has happened…

We did it!

Six of us on this side of the pond dreamed, planned, worked for funding, and traveled to meet with wonderful people in America and to make amazing things happen. The thing is that the whole adventure was so completely delicious from start until where we are now that I cannot really fathom where to begin. -and so this will be just a taste of what is to come. We have a story that needs to be told and it will be told so that we can share the processes, personalities, progress, and productivity of it all with as many as care to have a look in.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 08.25.43This is us! From left to right: me, Victoria, IzzI, Freya, Jess, and Pete up top.

As a group we had many goals that ranged from the global goals of wanting to inspire and facilitate connection through music making. This was not a formal sit in rows and learn from a book type activity – and although all different sorts of learning are valuable, that was not the approach we took on this trip. We had the pleasure of joining an extremely welcoming and lively bunch of students and teachers who had gathered to celebrate life and learning in the fantastic setting of Yosemite.

The whole collaboration started basically with a phone call – well, a Skype – where I asked David Preston if I could come and he extended the invitation to include my students. The rest unfolded as a wonderful mille-feuille type flower, with initiative after initiative and more hard work and determination than we all knew was within us. From the funding, where I initially sponsored my students by purchasing their flights to the end where they sponsored me – paying part of my costs. I used the last bit of a grant to buy my flight, but the fundraising we did together paid for my other costs. In the past few days it has really struck me how amazing that is – my students sponsored me in this initiative: They paid my room and board at Yosemite. From start to finish this was a co-learning feast.

In America we first visited UCLA where we were exceptionally hosted by the Chief Innovation officer and Assistant Dean of Students Kenn Heller and members of his fantastic team. They shared with us some of what they do, with the low ropes course and a general red-carpet welcome to LA and we shared some of the music we had planned for Yosemite.

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After our LA adventure we headed nearly 600 miles north to Yosemite. We were driven by one of the leading staff of UniCamp, who is also FATHER CHRISTMAS!!!! -no joke! Wally is amazing, and what a gift to be driven all that way by Wally and Kenn.

Our first glimpses of Yosemite were stunning and, unsurprisingly, literally took our breath away.

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From there we went on to the Nature Bridge facilities, where we met the Righetti students, and the rest of the gang. Our teacher-collaborators were there with their children, and the adventure continued with good food, good friends, and good times. We began to melt, formulating happenings and  creating … events, outcomes, experiences, and connections: from student to student, from teacher to student, teacher becoming student, everyone becoming a bit closer to nature. (can I just add that I really, really do love the trees)

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We did take some time to record some music… both in the cabins and by the water’s edge:

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Laura Pete River Yosemite copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And after our time at Yosemite, we went back to Santa Maria, where we made more music (there is a theme here!) – and this time we also did a workshop at a primary school. You can almost hear the rhythms in these snaps:

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There was an awful lot more that happened. People achieved goals on many levels. There was inspiration, and hopefully the joy that is #Musiquality was felt and genuinely contributed to the nature and atmosphere of the Open Source Learning initiative. We have each come back enriched.

As our collaborator, and founder of the OSL Foundation, Dr. David Preston said (at 14:28 in Nik’s video below):

“Don’t forget to tell your story. Every single one of you has a wonderful story – not just about this weekend, but about who you are, and what you do, and what you’re learning, and what you’re hoping for, and what you’re fearing- all those wonderful things that make you you, and I want you to be more you out loud, because as I’ve gotten to know each and every single one of you, it’s made my life richer, and I want to say thank you for that.”

Thank you right back at you… !

Video by Nik Koyama

All of this doesn’t begin to touch the whole story… but I will find a way to compile it. For now I leave you with the trees. I do love the trees.

and p.s. this is just the beginning. We will do more… if you would like to be involved, please get in touch!

Yosemite Trees

Leaving on a jet plane! #Musiqulity

Well we’re crossing the pond! Here are some very excited faces at the unreal hour of 6am… on the way to Heathrow Airport. It is hard to describe the excitement that everyone feels. Last night I was skyping these guys, as I have been in Arizona for two days.

I’ve been recording sounds, clearing my mind, and really setting the scene to look forward to the week ahead. It has been months in planning and it hardly seems real that we are actually doing this. I have come to love when people ask – what are you doing exactly? -because I am completely comfortable with saying that I really don’t know what we will do exactly because we haven’t done it yet, and it is going to unfold. We are going to meet and work with amazing people, both younger and older than we are, and part of the magic is that what unfolds will include all of us.

Today I met up with Alan Levine, who drove 4 hours out of his way to meet me. We had never actually met before, and he didn’t really know what was going to happen- all I told him was that I wanted to ask him how he learned music and maybe we could play something. We did just that.

Alan chose a chord progression and I played a simple bass line (truth be told I am not a confident improviser on the spot, and it takes me a while to be comfortable exploring around changes… and then I still have a very long way to go!). This will be the foundation for one of the collaborative musical somethings that we make on this trip. Hopefully there will be many layers, with different instruments and people building on what we started today. It was a privilege to bring Alan into that, even if it was in a very a small way. Alan captured the whole thing and posted it here.

This whole #Musiquality adventure has been organic. My fabulous five were rehearsing after midnight the night before they left – making notes on possible workshops and ways to get others involved. And the best thing was that I was nowhere to be seen. Well I did skype them about remembering important documents and making sure to drink plenty and being a mum really… but this is not my project that they are a part of. It is all of ours and I cannot wait to see their faces when they arrive in Los Angeles this afternoon.

Projects, projectiles, and provocations

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks and time has been slipping through my fingertips. Oh, there’s been plenty on- Many wheels are moving and the way people are coming together to work and make things happen is amazing. Monday I submitted my final (I hope) typescript for my upcoming book: Fostering self-efficacy in higher education students, and that was a major milestone. If all goes to plan, it will be finished and in the pulp (can’t really say in the flesh?) by October. Then there’s the Cello Weekend that I am running in April, with a lovely guest flying over from Chicago, and in May is the big event – the Musiquality ‘Don’t You Quit’ world tour – where the group (5 students + me + our instruments) fly off to California to connect, collaborate, and create with students and teachers from Righetti HS, UCLA, and Cal Poly. That is going to be amazing. (more on that project in a few days)

So I have let writing on the blog slip-

and then on Monday I tuned in to the first #DMLCommons webinar and Alan Levine said something that was an absolute cracker:

‘you don’t get a community with everyone sitting on their front porch talking to themselves.’

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He really got me thinking, and he’s right, you know. You don’t get a community when people get too busy to talk to anyone either! Time is a magic thing and I am so hungry to learn. The real problem suddenly dawned on me – with the level of connectedness available through technology it is humanly impossible to keep up. That’s pretty much it. There is just so much to do, so much life to live, and today – so much cake to eat! (fitting in a bake sale in about an hour for the Musiquality project) Maybe it’s like you have to paddle really hard and then you can ride the wave? I’m paddling at the moment and having that vision of the goal is so inspiring.

 

 

So we’ve had the projects and the provocation of the quote. What’s the projectile? It’s vaulting ‘us’ into the learning and living experience. For me, in the midst of all these projects I’m singing, playing, baking, hiking, doing, reflecting, learning, and living more in the here and now and doing it all with confidence and real joy. I love the hustle of the cross-continental communication that comes in at all hours and I love the peace of chasing the moon across the sea until it sets – real time, synchronous, asynchronous, connecting with the land, with people, within and without.

I am challenging myself to take Alan’s advice to heart- small and large scale. So if I meet you along one of my journeys, don’t be surprised if I say hello. I may not know you yet, but we may be part of a community soon.

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Photo credits: People photo: CC licensed here http://bit.ly/18XirOs ROcker photo CC licensed here: http://bit.ly/1CaMUmg Featured image CC licensed here: http://bit.ly/1N7tt2y

The Resonance of #Phonar

It all began at the HEA conference in July 2014. Jonathan Worth and I were both presenting on behalf of the Association of National Teaching Fellows, and blamo. I am a very confident person and I love (did I say love? – just checking, I meant to say LOVE) being on the stage, but ask me to talk to someone, and boy does that take courage. So, I plucked up the courage and said, (taking a deep breath, and trying to look normal) “I’d like to work with you on a project one day.”

and Jonathan said, “Drop me an email…”

The door opened. and I walked through.

That was the beginning of a great collaboration, and now I need to tell the backstory –

Last April, a very inspiring composer friend and colleague of mine – Jill Jarman – began to write a piece for me. She finished the first movement and gave it to me as a gift. as. a. gift. wow. (that is British understatement, the American in me says OH MY GOSH THAT IS SO COOL!) There are (or will be) two more movements, but I need to raise the funds or some sponsorship for those, but that is for another story… The piece of music is called Resonance and it is all about all the different sounds the cello can make – and it is meant to be visualised – you know, like with cymatics. Uber cool.

I got to talking with Jonathan about it, and played it to him one day at my house and then he had the idea that it would be great if his students could visualise it and create a sort of post-photographic portrait of the music as their final project for #Phonar. We both share a common ideology about collaborating and freedom of information – and on the back of that Jill (the composer) agreed that I could record the piece and release it under a Creative Commons license that allowed remixing – and that way the students could dream and make, and it would all be legit.

I made a trip to Coventry last December to see Jonathan’s students present their final work. It was a blast. I decided that something that would make my visit more meaningful was to give the students the chance to really experience the music, so I brought a van full of instruments and we played… It was supremely fun. At the time I mentioned that I had a concert at Chichester in February and that I would like to show some of the work while I played the piece live. -That event is happening this Thursday and today in preparation I was printing high quality photos from the students. The image in the poster is from one of the #Phonar students. There will be poster-sized photographic prints around the Chapel while I play and the audience will be able to access links and read about what the students were thinking. It is a chance for me to celebrate their work, and to reinforce the connection that we have had in sound, image, face to face, and now indirectly through an audience. As an effort to reach out and connect further, I recruited a couple of the university IT people to help me to set up live streaming for the concert. I use Panopto a lot (it is the system we have)- not really to record my lectures as it was intended, but for other things – reflection, student work, and I guess lectures too… but this time it will be to stream the concert.

So if you are free Thursday Feb 26th at 7:30 pm GMT, tune in on this link for an hour of music! Resonance is second on the programme, and will start about 5 minutes in, after a short vocalise for voice, cello, and piano. I can’t promise the sound or picture quality will be perfect, but that’s because it’s a first for me – gotta start somewhere!

Cello and voice poster

Walking and talking and singing that song

This morning I did something and I’m not sure if I am crazy or stupid, or maybe a bit of both. What I am sure of is that I believe in this. I booked the 5 airplane tickets for a project, that might actually be a way of life that is beginning to spill out into other pursuits. It’s all about that self-actualisation and doing something that really has essence and meaning, and connecting. Don’t get me wrong, there is incredible meaning in the simplicity of a cup of tea, but sometimes there is also meaning when you (or me or a student or anyone) allows themselves to go beyond what they expected, what they thought they could do. (Photo CC licensed: http://bit.ly/1KT1eSb)

Laura Gibbs posted an article by Carole Dweck about the perspective on intelligence and it goes back to the concept of ability vs. capability that Frank Pajares put so well when contextualising how we look at self-efficacy. I love that. This whole project is about capability. I can. I dream, but also I can. I want to do, and very fortunately for me – in May I will be on a do-ing journey with 5 of my students. We will be working with dozens of other students and teachers too, to create, learn, teach, and make some music.

There are people asking how do we get out of the box. This is my out of the box – my striving to go beyond and do something else. To be quite honest, I don’t quite know where this will take us. We came up with a blurb, and have started raising the money to cover the costs, because let’s face it, students today don’t generally have the kind of money that just takes them 5,000 miles away to realise a collaborative dream. They are going to have to earn it, and I am going to work my socks off to make sure they are able to make the most of the opportunity.

We started with a vision that started as conversations between 5 teachers/professors working across 5 different disciplines and then over the months it has become more tangible and taken on a form of its own. Here’s the way my students and I decided to phrase our understanding of it:

This project is an educational initiative that is about open sourced learning (free and connected) where individuals pursue their goals with passion and the hope of being able to actualise their dreams. Working through music, we will teach, communicate, reaching out to making connections with people, learn new skills, and develop confidence. Working across cultures and outside the traditional educational learning environment.

We’re going to California! Oh My Goodness!!

The one thing we do know is that we are going to document the whole thing – and record – we’re going to make music – an album. That in itself is incredibly exciting. This all started as a project to connect and open learning. It is challenging me and my students to really use the skills we have, and go forward. We are really being like new children walking – we know there will be scabbed knees and we will trip up, but I am confident and inspired in what we have already done and I’m willing to dive in wholeheartedly to see where we can take this. We’ve turned our boxes into cars and planes and we’re off on one hell of a ride.

ps watch out for the hashtag #musiquality on future posts about this project including plans, connections, and our funding adventures/opportunities! I think I’m on bake sale duty again in 2 weeks time. My brownies and banana muffins were a hit 🙂

 

 

Connecting the dots

This year my students and I keep reaching out and opened doors, to see where it will take us. Before Christmas, as a creative exchange we sent various bits of recorded music to a class of art students. They listened to the music and they created. Nearly half a world away, receiving this 6 second video from the teacher made us feel like we were in the next room. Can’t wait to meet in person in May!

 

This week I learned to stop.

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It’s sort of that time of year- lots going on, lots of activity, lots of lots. We went away. Not away from the people, in fact we’ve been a sea of people, but away from the routine, away from the habit, away from mountain of lots to do, and

I learned to stop.

There is always something on the go, and sometimes I wake up before I go to sleep, or dream solutions to problems, and throughout the year one of the things I have been learning is to meet myself and that has enriched the meetings with others. There is time and that is now. So that’s where I’m at, sitting in a little bit of paradise, overlooking misty mountains on the morning before I go back to my world.

The question for me now is will I be able to blend it all. How do the learners I teach do it? I want to make it so the learning is also their now and not in a separate world. When we find a bit of that magical peace where there is time to think and finally get enough sleep, and wake up to fresh bread (because there is nothing like that- especially if you don’t have to get up three hours earlier to bake it), and there is time to notice shadows and find wild ponies on walks – and bring that home without slipping into what can easily become that mountain of things to do – because it really is not a different world after all, or is it?Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 07.44.35

Ask me again after the flight lands tonight, or maybe next week after I finish my grading – but I think because of learning to stop that I’ll be bringing that mountain air with me this time instead of leaving it behind. At some point in the many Connected Courses webinars, Gardner and Howard spoke of the ebb and flow of a website, or a course- and as with most fundamentals, there is transference. I think the reality of that threshold concept has sunk in for me, and I am glad to have had the time and space to reflect.

Peace and many connections for the New Year: with people, with ourselves, and with our dreams.

Laura