CME Mix-bag Teaching Methodology and Reflections

My mix-bag arrangement of various hip-hop themes was designed with stage 4 groups in mind for beginner to intermediate players but focusing more on the beginner end of the spectrum. This arrangement however, could be used for good stage 3 ensembles, and as a repertoire piece for stage 5. All parts except the horns (because seriously, how many horns do you come across in the average school!!) have both a hard and easy part, and appropriate ranges have been taken into consideration. For example, the harder clarinet goes over the break, while the easy part does not. I included two improve sections, one in that is major and one that is minor. This allows students to get an understanding of how both sound like and what notes sound good when improvising over major and/or minor.

I choose to use themes from hip-hop songs, as they are very memorable tags and thus easy to memorize. This lends this composition to be learnt from an Orff approach approach. They way I would teach this using the Orff approach would be by first taking one part of the piece, such as the start and teaching the students the ostinato derived from the score. For example:

Ostinato 1  1

Ostinato 2 2

Ostinato 3  3

Ostinato 4  1

Once the whole class was able to do these on body percussion, have them swap around, and get used to performing all of them. Then once there is a good groove happening, I would start singing the melody line from the start of the piece. I would however change the words though so they are more appropriate for a school setting.

Eg:         (imagine Gold Digger melody here)

It’s in the morning,

When I’m in need,

Oh she’s a latte

Yes indeed

It wakes me

Oh it wakes

Yea this latte

It wakes me


Then I would teach the students, this melody, so they could sing the melody, while performing the ostinatos. Then I would transfer these ostinatos and melody onto instruments and come up with melodies for the ostinatos. Then I would get students to come up with a bordun, and harmony parts and then have the class perform the piece. From here I would teach the rest of the song using the mix-bag arrangement score. As students already know half the piece it will be easy for them to pick up the rest of it.

As a composition activity the melody line, harmony line and bas line, could be recorded into a audio or MIDI file and then given to students on GarageBand. Students would then have to come up with there own arrangement of the given material, as well as keeping an improvisation section in their own arrangements.

Below is the mix-bag score that I arranged:

arrangment cme – Full Score


CME reflections 11/8

Today we ran through half of the class draft mix bag compositions. I presented mine today. I created mine using well known melodic material from Gold Digger, Thrift Shop and Niggas in Paris. It went pretty well although most of them didn’t read the first bar properly and got the rhythm wrong which was pretty funny. I don’t know how I could fix it, I am not even really sure if you would need to, once you know how it goes it is pretty simple. James enjoyed it and so did the class so that makes me happy because that is what I was going for. Now I just need to fix it up a bit more so that there is an improve section and fix up individual parts so that they look nice and then I will be done.

TME reflections 10/8

Today we finished off how to edit video material. We used a program called ‘Screen Flow’ it was really cool learning all different stuff. First we learnt how to import, order and resize material so it all fits the same screen resolution. Then we learnt how to edit material so that we cut to a different shot. The first method that we learnt was literally cutting out chunks of material so you could see through the layer beneath and thus another shot. The other method was by creating an action and then turning the opacity down so you could see through that layer to the next one. Then James showed us how to make tutorials, using an in built webcam which was really cool. Then he showed us how to highlight things, annotate, show keystrokes, and zoom. I felt like a real pro movie editor afterwards. I would liken it to how a child feels after they do something that is amazing, an excitement of a child. Then we looked Ibooks and how to create different things in them which was pretty cool.

CME reflections 7/8

The start of this lesson we didn’t discuss compsition at all, instead we looked and discussed an article posted in ‘the daily telegraph’. The article discussed a schools treatment of assessment and how they approached it. As always the discussion turned to how getting rid of assessment is good/bad depending on your point of view, which i found hilarious as the article was talking about one school actually changing the name of exams and tests to tasks and stuff like that in the aim to make it less intimidating, or something like that anyway. I think it is interesting to note though that the reason this could be quite confronting is that we do not have as many schools doing radical things in the way they educate and so anything that is slightly against the norm is totally crazy. I also think it is interesting that in the literature there on ‘informal learning’ and ‘PBL’ etc there is little on how to use those methods and approaches with assessment, thus causing a lack understanding even with us young radicals about how we approach and understand assessment. Then we went on to look at how to scaffold compositions and the composition process, we did this by playing a piece as a class with James modelling to us how to do it and then we as a class lead the next one without James’ help.

TME reflections 6/8

Today we looked at recording stuff. It was pretty cool learning a bit more in depth how to use standard equipment available for pretty cheap. We recorded ‘Hey Jude’ as a class using two condensor mics plugged into a Zoom recorder. Then we extracted that data onto a computer and used that for editing. We also started learning how to use the video recording equipment to make a multi angle film but the video equipment stuffed up so we didn’t end up getting to learn how to that in this lesson.

Reflections Week 2A Comp – 04/08/15

Today we learnt about mix bag arrangements. A mix bag arrangement is one that simplifies a band score to make it accessible to different levels and different instrumentation. Using mix bag’s is good as it allows a solid arrangement of a piece to be performed without sacrificing the need for specific instruments. To learn about mix bag arrangements we played through 2 types of mix bags. This was really helpful as our first assignment for this subject involves creating our own  mix bag arrangement.

Reflections Week 2A Tech – 03/08/15

Well today was a lesson in using Sibelius, a notation software. Having grown up on Finale (another notation software) it was a good lesson in learning new software. From the outset, I am really impressed with Sibelius. It seems a lot more user friendly then Finale, but that just could be because I am using an older version of Finale (about 3 years old now) and the version of Sibelius we were using was one of the latest editions. I think that something that contributed to me being impressed by Sibelius was the fact I was being taught by a guy who worked in tech support for Sibelius for a number of years and actually wrote the book on how to use and learn how to use Sibelius. I was really impressed at the shortcuts, and the ease of entering in notes. I was also really impressed about how easy it was to create a worksheet on Sibelius. Making a worksheet can be really fiddly and I have often found messing with layout of the score is really hard on Finale, but on Sibelius it was really easy. All in all I think I am a convert to Sibelius, although considering how expensive it is I probably will stick with Finale for the time being.