How to Create a Safe Place for Improvising and Composing

Here are some simple actions you can take or phrases you can say or think to foster a safe place to explore and experiment with music in your general music classroom, band, orchestra, or choir classes: Things to Do If a learner has a song to play that they created and are enthusiastic about showing … Continue reading How to Create a Safe Place for Improvising and Composing

9 Pieces of Advice for Pre-service Music Educators

Learn to play the guitar - It's one of those instruments that is incredibly versatile and can be carried around the room, unlike the piano which creates an actual physical barrier between you and learners. It is used in many different genres, too. Learn how to play by ear and jam - Let's face it, … Continue reading 9 Pieces of Advice for Pre-service Music Educators

3 Awesome Online Drum Machines

Drum machines are a type of step sequencer that emulate sounds of a drummer. Some iconic drum machines, like the Roland TR-808, with their signature electronic drum sound, became the foundation of much of hip-hop and modern music production. A sequencer is a piece of hardware or software that can be programmed to make a certain sound at a certain time. With a step sequencer, the instructions happen one "step" at a time. There are a multitude of different sequencers, but some of the most common are step sequencers. They function much like modern score: they read left to right, one block at a time in steps (after this happens, this happens, then this happens, etc). Here are a few different drum machines and step sequencers you can use with learners to explore beatmaking that can be used for various other creative activities.

The “Continuum of Creativity”

I began thinking about the concept of a “Continuum of Creativity” after watching Adam Neely’s video “Why No Rap Covers?” In the video, Adam Neely, and Ethan Hein examine the idea of why rap covers are so rare. It comes down to an unwritten rule throughout hip-hop culture that dictates, lyrically and sonically speaking, that covering (biting) other rappers is disrespectful and should not be done. Of course “covering” is common in jazz and in rock music culture, as well as a number of other Western musical traditions. As Adam points out in the video, there is a book of songs that every jazz musician needs to know how to play. In rock music, there are tribute bands devoted to copying entire recordings note-for-note.