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

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 1A Comp – 31/07/15

This day was a Friday. It was a nice day outside and being stuck inside for 2 hours was the last thing I wanted to do. However, in this comp mus. lesson we looked at the creative movement and looked at the history surrounding that. It was really interesting to see a shift in that time from performers informing how music is taught to composers sharing and informing how music is taught, and in particular how composing is an important part of the music classroom. I found it very interesting looking at the history of significant composers and music people through the ages and their comments on what is essential, particularly the notion that composition was the way you would know if a student understood music and how it all worked. I also remember (at least I hope the two that I write are actually the ones that were stressed) that two words were stressed which I will endeavour to remember when I teach composition in the classroom. They are “model” and “small steps”. What I mean by those are: always model everything, don’t expect children to just be able to do without guidance or modelling of some kind. This is were small steps come into it. Don’t leave out the middle steps, plan all the little steps, for those small steps will make the process a lot easier.

Reflections Week 1A Comp – 28/07/15

Because I have been slack with this blogging reflection thing, I don’t heaps remember what we did this lesson. I do remember doing some Orff stuff that involved trains and track and stuff which was fun. Now that I am writing it is coming back to me (along with some help from blackboard haha). I remember that after doing Orff stuff with “Train Is Off The Track” we looked at some graphic score which was really cool. It was particularly cool as this graphic score was part of the opening of a children opera called “Kiravanu”. It was cool to see how to use graphic score to include students of different musical ability and how to use it to create a certain sound scape. We then went on to create our own graphic score in groups, depicting the end of the world in some form. My group tried to depict a zombie apocalypse. When it came to another group performing it, it actually worked out really well. We were all pleasantly surprised. All in all a interesting lesson.