I love music. I've spent most of my life either performing or teaching a number of music related subjects. While music is fun, learning or improving your vocal or pianistic technique can sometimes be challenging, and subjects such as theory, ear-training and music history can be confusing for even the best musicians. When these problems come up, I can help. I have over 20 years experience as a teacher working with students from Peabody, UMD and other institutions. I have served on the musi... [more]
Students learn the 'language' of music: note names and values, how beat is organized, rules of rhythmic structure, terminology - such as tempo and dynamics (speed and volume), harmonic structure and how to analyze a musical score. Great for anyone in or entering a college level music program.
Ear-Training is the study of listening for accuracy in the elements of music so that any music once played can be written down, or conversely, read from a sheet of music without previous hearing. In earning three musical degrees, my studies included regular classes in ear-training. While working on my MM degree at the Peabody Conservatory, I was an assistant tutor in this class for students experiencing difficulties. Holding a Bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, a Masters from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland, I feel well equipped to help students in this subject, which I currently teach at Baltimore City Community College. The following skills are developed: The recognition of intervals. Intervals are the distances between notes, and their quality. For example, the distance between C and D is a major second, while the distance between C and Db is a minor second. We learn to identify the sound of intervals through careful listening and the use of associated repertoire. For example, the beginning notes of "Happy Birthday" are a good example of a major second, while the first notes of the "Jaws" theme can help students remember the sound of a minor second. Another skill we learn in Ear-Training is to recognize the difference between consonant and dissonant intervals. Consonant intervals give the listener a feeling of stability, like the "Amen" at the end of a hymn. Consonant intervals can be both major and minor, and again, we can learn to recognize them using associated repertoire. For example, an octave can be memorized using the famous song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in which the syllable "Some" and "where" are an ascending octave. "Party Rock is in the House" is also a good example, since the words "the house" are also an example of an octave. Perfect intervals are always consonant. The three Perfect intervals in a diatonic system are the Perfect Fourth, (Here Comes the Bride), The Perfect Fifth, (Mugorsky's "Night on Bald Mountain), and the perfect 8 or octave. Dissonant intervals tend to give the listener a feeling of instability, and help propel melody and harmony through tension and resolution. There are three types of dissonant interval, the second, both major ad minor, the Tri-tone, which is the half-step between a Perfect fourth and Perfect fifth, and the major and minor 7th. There are several methods available to teach intervalic recognition, but the most traditional and arguably most effective is learning solfege syllables with "movable do". This system relies on tonic relationships, or the ability to use the first note of the diatonic scale as a reference point. Ear training also gives the student the ability recognize rhythmic patterns and time signatures. Students learn how time signatures group beats into metrical patterns of duple, triple, quadruple, and compound meters, and further, how to recognize these patterns by listening for where the stress or accent falls. For example, in duple meter, students would hear the stress every other beat - ONE two ONE two, where as with triple meter, the stress or accent would fall on the first of three pulses: ONE two three ONE two three. This skill is developed kinesthetically by beating pulse with hands or feet, individually and collectively. Proficiency in these skills are evaluated through written and aural testing. A student should be able to write what they hear on staff paper, sing what they see written, and verbally identify by describing the quality of intervals, or pulse upon listening.
General music supports the curriculum taught within the public education system, but provides greater detail and involvement. I currently teach Music Fundamentals at Baltimore City Community College, a course that covers the six essential elements of music: Rhythm, Pitch, Harmony, Texture, Timbre and Form. Materials needed: Staff paper, small portable keyboard, and a CD or mp3 player. General Music provides an in depth understanding of these elements and how they are used to create music, as well as how to discern their use in what we hear. Using the keyboard and staff paper, students gain a basic familiarity with identifying notes on the staff using Treble, Bass and Alto Clef. They also learn and perform rhythmic values: whole note - 4 beats, half note - 2 beats, quarter note - one beat, eighth note - half a beat, sixteenth note - quarter beat, and so on, as well as time signatures. Study of the diatonic system, by playing major and minor scales and their relative triadic harmonies are also introduced and explored through written work. Finally, students will listen to the timbres of different instruments and be able to distinguish between the families of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, as well as the keyboard instruments; organ, harpsichord, piano and synthesizer. Ultimately, with these skills students should have enough of a basic familiarity with how music is written and performed to be able to follow a simple score while listening to a recording of simple musical selections. Following a musical score helps students achieve several objectives. The first, is to help them begin a system of tracking notes and hearing sound, a skill needed for performance. The second objective is allowing students to recognize how musical elements can be manipulated to create different textures and styles.