Student Wins MENC/NSBA Electronic Music Composition Contest

For the second year in a row, one of my student’s has won First Place in the MENC (Music Educators National Conference)/NSBA (National School Board Association) Electronic Music Composition Talent Search in the High School Division.

Senior Ricco Burkhardt’s piece Does Murder Sleep was conceived and influence by the Shakespeare quote from Macbeth and was chosen as this year’s winner from amongst 200 entries into this national competition. Congratulations to Ricco for writing a fantastic piece and for winning this distinguished honor.

As Ricco’s essay states:

“The title of my piece is the key to understanding what I have created. The title is a line from the story of Macbeth: “Macbeth shall sleep no more. Macbeth does murder sleep.” I chose to reference the story of Macbeth because my piece tells a similar tail. The title represents a struggle through darkness, confusion and insanity in search of happiness. I thought that creating a story instead of just a song was a great way to break away from traditional song structure. I also wanted my piece to be something creepy, unsettling and multi-layered. Something that almost had to be listened to several times before being fully understood. I did not, however, want to make it too complex and difficult to listen to. Finding a balance between the two was by far the greatest challenge during composition.”

You can view a screen cast of Ricco’s piece below. It was composed using Logic 8 on an iMac G5 using an M-Audio Keystation 61es as MIDI entry. The audio vocal was inserted and manipulated by Ricco.

To hear Ricco’s piece and a list of past winners and their music, please visit:

http://www.menc.org/news/view/2010-nsba-student-electronic-music-composition-talent-search-winners

For more information on the contest, please visit:

http://www.menc.org/gp/nsba-student-electronic-music-composition-talent-search

Greenwich High School students have placed in the top two for the last three years:

2008 2nd Place – Kenny Bloom

2009 1st Place – Emily Boyer

2010 1st Place – Ricco Burkhardt

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Student wins Composition Competition Sponsored by Northeastern University

I am very proud to announce that one of my students, Kanki Suzuki, came in First Place in the Electronic Music Composers Competition for High School Students in the Northeast sponsored by Northeastern University’s Music Technology Department.  Kanki’s piece was chosen as the top piece in this year’s competition from amongst almost 100 pieces. Kanki is a sophomore at Greenwich High School and has only been in my classes since September. Congratulations Kanki!

To hear Kanki’s piece, please visit Northeastern University’s site:

http://www.musictech.neu.edu/05_compcontest_winners.html

For more about their annual competition, please visit:

http://www.musictech.neu.edu/05_compcontest.html

Hearing Loss, EQ and The Mix

NPR posted an interesting article and audio clip entitled, “The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse”   http://bit.ly/7hFhGK

It got me thinking. When working with young audio engineers (20’s and early 30’s) in live sound situations, I can always tell the guys/girls who work in the clubs.  There always seems to be a ring in the system around 2+ K.  The 20 something engineers almost always set up a mic and computer right away and take out the ring and other problems using the software. The 30 something people tend to set up and use their experience and ears first then go to the software. When they use software to EQ the system, we surely get rid of the ring but until they use the software, ring, ring, ring.  They can’t even hear it.

I don’t usually listen to contemporary pop music from the “radio” more than I have to. I do listen to hours of my student’s music every day. There it is. HUGE high hats and cymbals in the mix. I mean, these instruments are like 30 inches in diameter if you aurally envision and compare them to the size of the other drums save the bass drum. Maybe it was the headphones or the speakers. Nope, always there. At first I thought it was my 1970’s trained ears and personal preference to a heavy handed 2 & 4 in the snare drum. I started listening to music my student’s listen to. There it is! Hi hats, shakers and other high percussion that pop. Don’t think I just guitar amps that go to 11. I’m a percussionist. I should be loving this. Nope. No way around it. I listened to music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and there it is. More and more highs creeping in the mix especially this past decade.

Think about this: Volume affects hearing. The first to go are the highs. Is this why cymbals and hi hats are so loud/hot in today’s mixes? Are the producers and engineers putting out contemporary pop music, basically, going deaf and is this affecting the quality of the EQ? Is it creating a new aural norm for today’s mixes?

Follow this discussion here or on the new MusicEdTech’s Facebook page.

http://tinyurl.com/yajgslr


NJMEA/TI:ME 2010 – No Passport Required!

The Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) National Conference is at the NJMEA Conference in New Brunswick, NJ February 18 – 20, 2010. That’s right, New Jersey and for all of us New Yorkers, there is still no passport required to get to New Jersey!

I’ll be making two presentations this year. One will be Teaching Music Through Composition With Technology: Beginning Lessons That Work and the other will be a performance by a group of my students, nanoBands: Live Performance And Demonstration By Greenwich High School Students Sponsored by SoundTree.  The band’s name is “Total Kaoss” and they will be performing on hand-held devices including Korg’s Kaossilator.

A  pdf file of NJMEA and TI:ME offerings at the conference can be downloaded here: TI:MEconfinfo

For more information about the NJMEA Conference, go to their conference website:

http://www.njmea.org/conference/

For more information about TI:ME, please visit their website:

http://www.ti-me.org/

Don’t forget to visit the CT Chapter website:

http://www.ti-me.org/CT/

Tips for Publishing or Distributing Student Music Digitally

I received a tweet from EdtechBC (http://elgg.openschool.bc.ca) about a blog post entitled 21st Century Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It!” http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2009/11/21st-century-educators-dont-say-hand-it.html

Basically, it is a list of, as the subtitle says, “6 Ways Innovative Educators Can Move from “Hand It In” to “Publish it” Teaching. Included are tips for Writing, Reading, Math, ELL/TOSEL, Cooking (I don’t know about your schools but the cooking classes are THE most requested classes in my school!) & History/Social Studies. I was reminded of a portion of a presentation I did for the NYS School Music Association and Connecticut Music Educators Association conferences on “Digital Media In & Out of the Classroom”. In the presentation, I discussed how student music could be distributed, or in this context, published, digitally. So, to extend the blog above, here are some tips for publishing in the music classroom. I’d love to see the list continued by others in other subjects.

Making CDs or videos of school concerts or performances is not impossible to do, just a drag. Legally, you need permission to distribute or sell recordings of copyrighted material that you record or video at a school performance. Entire sessions can be had and entire books have been written on the process of getting permissions for use and resale of performed copyrighted music on a CD (mechanical license). Suffice it to say that legally, recording and distribution of school concerts in any format, video or audio, requires permissions and fees. For more information:

Guidelines for Educational Use of Music

http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/musguid.htm

The United States Copyright Law – A Guide for Music Educators

http://www.menc.org/resources/view/united-states-copyright-law-a-guide-for-music-educators

A great resource for EVERY school library is the newly published book by James Frankel, The Teacher’s Guide to Music, Media and Copyright Law published by Hal Leonard. This book is not just for the music teacher but addresses concerns for all teachers and school districts looking to avoid the legal battles with owners of copyrights.

For more information or to purchase a copy, go to the link in my Blog Roll (right sidebar) for James Frankel. (Not now! AFTER you finish reading this blog!)

I do, however, recommend publishing original student music. If you are going to produce a CD of student music and simply hand it out or let students give them to family & friends (a great stocking stuffer I might add), you really won’t need student or parent permission. If, however, any kind of money were going to trade hands, I would recommend you obtain a few permissions, just in case.

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Student Music New CD Avaiable on iTunes

FINALLY! The 2008-2009 GHS Student Music CD is available on iTunes. Just go to the iTunes Store search box and type “Greenwich High School”. The CD includes Emily’s piece “Gothic Memory Land” that was the First Place winner in the NSBA/MENC Electronic Music Competition. Enjoy!

Presenter at NYSSMA/MENC

I am just back from NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) Summer In-Service Conference in Albany, NY.  NYSSMA is considered one of the best MENC Chapters so I was honored to have been asked to present.  My presentation was bright and early Monday at 9AM and I managed to get a some what awake crowd of about 25 people.  Since this is the smaller of the two conferences NYSSMA does each year, I was happy to have the numbers.  My 1 hour and 15 min presentation was entitled, “Digital Media In & Out of the Classroom”.  My presentation covered two areas:

1 ) Keeping it safe and legal outside the classroom with regard to CD or video sales and posting student work on the Internet 2) How digital media can be used in the classroom to demonstrate an idea or concept or be used as materials for student projects

I used examples of student podcasts and compositions and also gave examples of how popular media, video, YouTube and contemporary songs can be used in the classroom.  Each participant left with a nice packet of information discussed in the presentation and several lesson plans that were discussed.  They seemed enthusiastic and appreciative of the presentation.

All in all, I had a good time and meet a few really nice people. Given I am a New Yorker at heart (I was raised in Brooklyn and have Permanent NYS Certification), it was nice meeting several people from Long Island with an accent I could easily recognize!