Music in Class

Music is playing in my class all day; the only exception being when I am talking with students. I believe music to be a calming, comforting tool used in my class.
Many times, my students can tell what mood I am in upon walking into class and hearing either the deceptively soft melodies of Elliot Smith or thespeed and intensity of Anthrax.
I had a professor in college who played concert videos of YanniJohn Tesh, and Celine Dion in between classes.  At first, we laughed and mocked her. There was something really odd about watching one of these videos prior to an English 101 class.
One day a friend of mine borrowed one of his mom’s Yanni concert t-shirts and wore it to class, hoping the professor noticed; she did. After the first two weeks of the semester, I began to notice that all of us students were in the lecture hall, sitting in our chairs watching Celine Dion rock out with her electric violinist, at least five minutes before class officially started. (HERE it is, if interested!)
In my iTunes I have a folder called “Instrurock”. Technically, the contents are mostly “Post Rock” (link to wiki). But the great thing about these bands is that, ninety-five percent of the time, there is nsinging.
I generalize this music as being modern versions of Rush‘s “La Villa Strangiato”.rrA key aspect of these bands, in addition to having little to no singing, is that the music is hip enough for the students to not have a Pavlovian negative response to Classical music. I frequently see students tapping their foot with the beat.
Another way in which I use music in my class is as volume control. I point out to my students that there is music playing in Target, yet the workers are still doing their job and people can still talk. My students know that their volume should not go above the volume of the music (of course, there are times when we are louder, much louder; but, that is circumstantial.).
Here is a nice song by Godspeed You! Black Emperor that is representative of the soundtrack in my class while students are writing or working in groups. I particularly like how the song slowly builds to a crescendo, adding subtle layers of nuance: a nice metaphor for writing and creating.

The Photography Interviews: Matthew Needleman

Below is the fifth installment of an ongoing series on photography and those who are doing amazing things with their cameras. I have reached out to many people in my Instagram feed, all who have captured and held my imagination, and asked to interview them about their art. There are teachers and non-teachers in this series, but each one brings something that can be applicable to the classroom.

I encourage you to check out their Instagram feeds and ask them questions!

Matthew Needleman, @needleworks, shares his talents with us in this post. Stellar work. A true professional. When I want to be inspired by composition done right, I head strait to Needleman’s Instagram feed. There is a peaceful silence about his photographs that is unique, even when he shares pictures of inherently loud places.

What is your primary camera and/or camera app (stock camera/Hipstamatic/VSCO…)

\r\nI use Apple’s native camera app 99% of the time.  Camera+ is good when you need separate control over focus and exposure like in a concert.

What are your favorite editing apps?

Instagram, Snapseed, PhotoWizard, Mextures.

What is your favorite picture and story behind it? (Please include or link)? 

My favorite recent photo is this one.

Although the ground was sandy, I cloned the ground up to the sky and made it look like a dessert scene.  I’ve taken several photos at famous landmarks but this was the first time I actually created the setting.

Can you share a tip?

Make sure to consider the entire frame.  Spend a little time editing your photos (enhancing the contrast and popping the color are something I do for almost every photo).  Post only your best work online.

Who and what are your favorite photographers, communities, and hashtags you really enjoy and learn from?

Nicole Dalesio (instagram:  @magrelacanela) was my inspiration to start editing photos and post them on instagram.  Josh Johnson (instagram: @joshjohnson) is a great community to connect with other photographers and get daily inspiration.

Why do you take pictures?

It’s faster than making movies. It helps me express myself and have a journal of moments from my life. Posting pictures on Instagram has helped me connect with others and discover new people and places.

How long do you wait to edit a picture after first taking it AND how long do you wait from when you first take a picture and when you post it.

If I’m at a live event, I try to post a photo as soon as I can because it’s cool to see other people’s photos and feel like you are a part of something larger.  Normally, however, I wait until I get inside to edit and post.  I’ve learned not to post photos when you’re outside because it’s difficult to see how they really look.

Mobile photography in the classroom, any thoughts and/or suggestions?

In my classroom I would follow Josh Johnson’s daily forums and work with students to create work to post to the forum.  Photography supports English Learners in particular to develop vocabulary.  However, all students can benefit from the creativity and the learning the comes from getting instant feedback online by examine which photos get the most likes.

Thanks again Matthew!

Next up…Don\’t know yet! LOL!