Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Music production was inevitable ever since audio got to be recorded, the idea of recording music and listening at any moment became something extremely interesting, not to mention, difficult, and nowadays it requires a lot of time and dedication to be able to produce music in order to be reproduced in the best way possible, maintaining a clean and crystal clear sound. Producers have to work with the artist as if they were partners, or part of the same band. Nile Rodgers a very well-known producer says:
Almost all the producers I know and dig, like Quincy Jones or Brian Eno, are really musicians first. I’m a composer, an orchestrator, an arranger and a musician first. I know how to write and rewrite songs, and the genius is really in the rewriting. You don’t hear the first or second or sometimes only fiftieth thing we producers do, you hear the final one. That’s the gift of really great producers: they’re terrific writers or rewriters.
But what do they actually do?

Production

Music production is all about cleaning the sound and rearranging the music, this means that every instrument can be distinguished from the others, equalization is done correctly, the tempo is perfect and at the same time, recording and producing can be a great moment to reevaluate the song, and considering adding or taking something away in order to get a more accurate version of the idea. The producer also works as a reality check in some occasions due to the fact that sometimes, the composer’s idea does not sound that clear in reality, and some changes have to be made. This process has also changed over the years as many other areas of music. Digital offers unlimited editing and tracks, and has very affordable storage.  Compatibility with other studios is easy. Analog has limited editing and only 24-tracks.  However, analog offers exceptional sound quality.

Digital

music production
Dave Grohl said on the “Sound City” documentary: ““Nowadays, it’s almost easier for young bands,”
“You can record an album in in your living room for free and with the click of a button you can distribute it to the entire world. If you’re really good, you can go out and play a gig and let everyone know you’re coming. You have to get outside of the conventional processes we used to use, you know, like radio or records or any of that crap. Ultimately, if at the end of the day, if you’re really f**** good at what you do and you go out and play for other people and they see that you’re really f**** good, that’s how it starts. But don’t expect to be Justin Bieber.
Dave’s point is very true, nowadays the internet, computers, and digital studios, it’s very easy to start a music project, the only issue with this, is that the competition is bigger than ever. The first part of this new way of producing music is composing something, then record it the best way you can with what you have, then you do the work of a producer by polishing and making every sound work as it should; if you get all of that right you may still not get any kind of recognition due to the lack of social media presence. Still making music in the comfort of your room will never be as good as recording in a studio with a producer. Whether you want to be a producer or not, it’s always good for a musician to familiarize with how production works, and if interested enough go as far as to produce some music, to learn and have the experience, there is no doubt this will make you a better musician.
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When teaching, there is an obvious difference of students and teacher, and it defines the space in which each of them operates, this is, a predominance of speaker on the teacher’s side, and a predominance of listeners on the student’s side, but what to do when this dynamic changes, and what is the difference on it being caused by a good thing or a bad thing? Creativity.

Of course is a bad thing if you as teacher, see the class being interrupted by a student who is just looking for some fun to alleviate his boredom, but when a student interrupts because he wants to learn or share his opinion, that is a whole other subject.

Creative Student

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Student’s minds are a roller coaster of thoughts when truly invested into the class, this sometimes end in confusion, sometimes boredom, interest, fascination, and something else, which is the topic at hand, creativity.

Creativity can come easily to some people while listening to other things, as if they use what they listen as bridges to create new paths in their minds, and this can happen with children, teens and adults. To have a somewhat balanced opinion let’s pretend we are talking about a 17 year old boy or girl which we will call “the creative student”.

The creative student sometimes can be a bit impulsive, because of the amount of passion there is for music, this has to be tamed, not stopped.

The importance of giving creativity the attention it deserves cannot be dismissed. Concerning this fact, Peter Webster from the Thornton School of Music says:

Consider for a moment how this might affect motivation.  With the rich opportunities to create music comes an inherent desire to learn more about technique.  Practice time is not based only on a teacher-directed and teacher-centered set of technical challenges, devoid of any student engagement.  Instead, there is added a personal investment in improving one’s playing or singing.  Listening to one’s recorded performances focuses attention on the need to improve sound.  Students asked to analyze their own musical performances, perhaps their own music, become more intrinsically engaged.

That is the ultimate goal in music education, students have to be engaged and inspired to make their own music, that’s why letting their creativity fly in class is crucial to their formation as musicians.

Classroom instruction for younger grades can continue to be defined by singing and moving but must also include attention to composition, improvisation, and creative listening. We need to completely rethink methods class to include more composition and improvisation and greater attention to technology

The Focus on Creativity

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If this is the focus, learning about technique will become a necessary means to achieve what they as musicians want, in other words, it has to be the teacher’s priority to make every student feel as comfortable as they can in class.

It’s also important to remember that some students may be more outgoing and more open to share their tastes than others, which is the different between the creative student and the rest of them. When we refer to a “creative student” does not mean that the rest of them aren’t creative, it just means that them as students are not showing that side of them, and the desired thing should be to make them all creative students. No one should be feeling left out or less than the rest, and in online lessons, where there are no classmates in the traditional sense, creativity should be more easily involved in each lessons.

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Music is actually a lot more than playing, and knowing how to write and read, there is a whole history that grows with each passing day, meaningful past creations, cultural movements, places, and people. Music teachers should always pay attention to these things as it contributes to the general knowledge and inspiration towards making music.

There is a problem about knowing how to do something but not completely knowing how or why, nor knowing how to explain it, this can be an issue that blurs the goals and inspirations as musicians.

History

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Music history is something that can help in various fields. First, you get a look at hundreds of artists, composers and bands with a wide arrange of genres, inspirations and styles that will surely be a great influence in future creations.

History also teaches about the musical evolution in terms of the similarities between composers from each era and context, and the evolution of technology, this sort of musical progress or change is an important part of human history as a whole as it shows quite a bit

In an article by Scott Huntington from the Oxford University Press’s
Academic Insights for the Thinking World, he talks about David Gonzol, who was his teacher at the time, and on the importance of learning about music history he said:

“All the best professional and amateur musicians, from Ella Fitzgerald to Paul McCartney, Adolph Herseth to Johann Sebastian Bach and Clara Schumann to Jean Ritchie, all made sure to know their field thoroughly and well. They knew their own performing skills, other performers, the repertoire, the history, the theory, the business, the culture, the people, everything. One can sing a melody or play a harmony, only if one really understands how those melodies or harmonies have been valued in their particular culture. How they have been performed, thought about, composed, improvised, listened to, danced to and worshipped to. Truly successful musicians understand all their music because they worked hard at becoming terrifically well-rounded. As cellist Lynn Harrell once said to a sixth-grade boy, ‘There are no shortcuts.’”

Dr David Gonzol

Culture

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The cultural impact of music is without a doubt one of the most important parts of its history, from Beethoven’s nine symphonies, which have been considered the cornerstones of Western civilization to Elvis and the Beatles in the 20th century.

Music can be one of the purest ways to express oneself, and this a lot of times comes in times of anguish, turmoil, fear, rage, sadness and very strong joy. Therefore music has been the main event for many counter culture movements, such as jazz, blues, rock, punk, electronic music and hip hop. While some of these are now established genres and made a partial transition into the pop culture, their origins came from a place of disagreement and incomprehension.

As Sheila Whiteley says in her article, Countercultures: Music, Theory and Scenes:

Music played a major role in the way that the counterculture authored space in relation to articulations of community by providing a shared sense of collective identity.

Sheila Whiteley

Music is a lot more than just performing, as every creation and performances are in a way representations of human emotions in different contexts, which then become signatures, time machines, and inspire people beyond borders and time, even more so now with the internet. Music connects people, and the only way to truly understand this is to learn its history.

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