Practice Makes Perfect – February 26th, 2011

Editor’s Note: This post is the tenth in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

Jason’s First Fretted Note –

The technique needed for playing the classical guitar is a balance of musicianship, well-planned acrobatics and, yes, that last extra push during a practice session. Jason did really well with his right hand, but he discovered that the first few notes using the left hand can be a little painful at first. He stuck through it and the first thing that he did the following week was play “I’m a Little Chipmunk” and tell me how, “last week it was hard, but now it’s not. I don’t know why.” Hard work pays off – that’s why!

The Teacher, Through the Eyes of the Student – February 26th, 2011

Editor’s Note: This post is the ninth in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

A week before this was recorded my friend from Longy, Sachiko Murata and I, were asked to perform at the opening ceremony for the exhibit “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit” at MIT. Berklee Alum, Emi Inaba, composed a piece for the event and we began practicing. Our schedules made rehearsals difficult and the only time we could find to practice before our first smaller public performance of the new pieces was Saturday at 8 a.m. before my teaching internship at the YMCA in Chinatown. We rehearsed until 9 and I decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity by asking Jason to record us playing the piece. It was a wonderful opportunity to see myself through the students eyes and ears as a performer. It also sparked dialogue about how much I practice. Jason was very surprised when I told him that I was practicing four hours every day. He left that day inquiring to himself and his family, “What would it be like to practice four hours a day?”

Warming up to the Camera – February 19th

Editor’s Note: This post is the eighth in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

“I Think that the Camera to be a Casual Thing”

Having a camera in every class could be a very scary thing and I didn’t want anyone to be scared of the camera so I chose a couple of tactics to lessen the camera’s ‘intimidation factor.’ One of the things I decided to do is have transparency of the footage, which is one thing the blog is about. The students and their families all have access to the blog at anytime, so they know what the purpose of the footage is – it is for my development as a teacher and for their own feedback. The other thing that I decided to do from day one is to let the kids hold the camera and record each other. I wanted them to feel somewhat in control of the documentation experience. This has been a success. They are aware of the camera throughout the lesson, but in a very beneficial way. For example, Jason and Janea both have adjusted the camera for me so that I can get the best shot of the class for my research. This shows me that they are not only comfortable with the camera being around, but that they are willing to help me and my research. I really enjoy this kind of positive feedback. Thank you both for being such wonderful sports about this!

Rest Stroke, Finger Alternation and PIMAC – February 19th

Editor’s Note: This post is the seventh in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

Rest Stroke


Right-Hand Alternation-

Alternation is as easy as walking.

“Left foot, right foot, left foot etc.”

It could also sound like the most abstract kind of nuclear physics.

“First one must start with the ‘i’ finger, which is short for the Spanish word, ‘indicio’. Once you have plucked the ‘e’ string with your ‘i’ finger, the ‘m’ finger should immediately…”

I hope that I have found something in-between that is accessible and allows for reflection upon the mechanics of the body when it is working at its best.

PIMAC


For the classical guitar, there are five possible fingers that we can use to pluck the string; thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinky. Using the abbreviations of the fingers’ Spanish names, we get ‘PIMAC’. This is very simple, but it needs to be automatic and students need to be able to both create strings of right hand finger combinations and to interoperate combinations through teacher/peer-led commands or by reading them. The more automatic this becomes, the less of a barrier there is for the communication of technical advice (ex. “play the ‘high e’ string with i-m-i alternation to get the right musical effect).

PIMA game lead by students

Holding the Guitar – February 12th, 2011

Editor’s Note: This post is the sixth in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

I owe a lot to Brian Moore of the UNM Music Prep School for these pedagogical concepts. I learned these ideas by watching his class after I taught my classes at the Prep School on Saturdays. The most important concept with his approach is to re-term vocabulary in a fun and age-appropriate way.

The terms for holding the guitar are:
Edge of your Seat
Inside on Top
Eye Level
Straight Back
Gas Pedal (Footstool)

Syllabus

Editor’s Note: This post is the fourth in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series here.

IMG_4788

The Syllabi that I handed out in the past were so boring. This year I wanted to try something more exciting, so I used ideas for my syllabus inspired by a handout by Julia Church Hoffman. She makes wonderfully engaging papers for her classes to read and because they have pictures, they are more eye-catching and more likely to be read by the students (and parents as well). For the first class, we colored the syllabus that I created. Children’s book illustrator, Chie Yasuda, created artwork for my syllabus that is both accurate (in terms of playing position and number of strings on the guitar) and friendly. As we colored the syllabus, we talked about whether or not the student in the picture was right handed or left handed and what the important information is on the syllabus as well as answered questions that came up spontaneously.Child for Rubric

Chalkboard Introductions

Editor’s Note: This post is the third in a series by MIE guided intern Devin Ulibarri. Devin is a first year graduate student of Eliot Fisk. His internship at the Wang YMCA is supported both by the MIE department and NEC Prep’s Community Engagement program. Read others in the series  here.

Chalkboard Introductions:

Because there are only two students in the class I decided against “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar” and came up with this impromptu way of getting to know each other. We introduced ourselves by talking about our interests and our favorite flavor of ice cream.

Q:What do you do for fun? What is your favorite ice cream?

IMG_4787Jason: Saxaphone, Vanilla

Devin: Guitar, Cookies and Cream or Green Tea Ice Cream (Maccha)

Janea: Piano, Strawberry