In July, MML faculty member, Maggie Parker attended a class, "Instrumental Methods and Techniques" as part of the the Summer @ Eastman program. Eastman School of Music is a music conservatory located in Rochester, NY. You may learn more about Summer@Eastman here and read below to learn more about Maggie's enlightening music experience.
Q: What did your "Instrumental Methods and Techniques" class entail?
A: We did a deep dive on the philosophy and practices of the "Jump Right In" music curriculum, which flips traditional music curriculum on its head by beginning with audiation and improvisation exercises rather than notation and theory. The professor, Dr. Christopher Azzara, reminded us of the experience of being beginners by having us play recorders for the first week of the class (an instrument none of us were proficient at!) We learned primarily by ear during the first week, focusing on understanding the function of notes, rather than simply the letter name or fingering that corresponds to the notes. We also used both tonal and rhythm syllables to create associations with modality and meter. One of the most fun activities was taking well known songs and performing them in a different mode or meter! ("Mary Had a Little Lamb" in Dorian is quite haunting!) The second week, we then applied these ideas to our primary instruments and to notation. We also spent quite a bit of time working on improvisation, both on our own instruments and looking at teaching techniques.
Q: Do you have any tidbits that you learned or would like to highlight?
A: One of the most profound things our professor said was "Music notation can only remind you how musical you are." The idea that musicians are built from their past musical experiences that they then can put into the music they create was also a pervasive one through the course. I really appreciated the value put on expression, even when students were in the beginning stages of learning their instrument. I also got to work with some amazing classmates, an amazing TA, and an amazing professor! We all came in with very different backgrounds, so it was really cool to compare and pull through our various experiences.
Maggie's NY visit included a trip to Niagara Falls!