Videos from MIE Pi Day!

Download the MIE Pi Day 3-14-2013 Poster and put it on your wall!

For those of you who were unable to attend our 2nd annual Music-in-Education Department Concert (this year held on Pi Day — March 14, 2013), please enjoy the following videos!

This year’s inquiry question:

How do numbers empower musical understanding? Celebrating the Role of Mathematics and Music in Education

And our Program Notes (PDF): MIE Pi Day Concert 3-14-13 Program Notes
Larry’s piece, ‘Phone Number Myelination Music’:
Devin’s piece, ‘Oobleck Serial’:
Nick Kitchen’s piece ’36, 45, 378 and 64: Bach’s St. Anne Fugue and the Ciaconna for Solo Violin’:
Henrique’s piece, ‘Madruga’:
Katarina’s piece, ‘Sierpinski Triangle in 43 steps’:
Rob’s piece, ‘Wondrous Numbers’:
Warren’s piece, ‘Thought Experiment’:

Making the Right Move: NEC Gets a Chess Club

Over the past two years, I have worked in numerous ways and settings to help bridge the NEC communities, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes deliberately. For this internship, I found a unique way to serve the NEC student population: start a chess club!

What makes this different from other clubs? My chess club has ulterior motives. I’m interested in interdisciplinary connections, drawing inspiration for musical events from other structures. Specifically, I’m setting out to compose music inspired by and informed by the game of chess. As a composer, I want musicians to understand the game, in order to enrich their experience playing the music.

Moreover, having an “army of chess-playing musicians” gives me the ability to write new music that draws its compositional structure directly out of the game: I can use the board as a kind of improvised graphic score! Thus, by teaching musicians the game of chess, I am simultaneously preparing them to play my music.

Over the semester, I hope to put on three performances. The first will be on the Music-In-Education Department Concert (which I am curating), to take place on March 7th. This will be a “small piece,” examining just a small microcosm of the chess universe. The second performance will (hopefully, curator permitting) be on Jordan Hall stage on April 9th, as part of the “Beckett Play” concert (put on by the Contemporary Improvisation Dept.). That piece would be a little bit bigger, and also relate to the writing of Samuel Beckett (especially “Endgame”). Finally, I hope to stage the largest version of the piece—the full-blown game of chess—on my recital: April 28th, in Brown Hall. This would require thirty-two musicians, all of whom play chess relatively well, so I hope people show up to the club!

Right now the club is in “stage one”: building critical mass. So far there’s been a steady crowd of musicians each week, and the cast usually has a mixture of rotating players and steady regulars. On our first day, there were thirteen people! The challenge each week is to find ways to teach each person on an individual basis, while simultaneously introducing concepts that will be relevant in my compositions.

Starting in the next couple weeks or so, I plan to introduce my first piece in the club, teaching about that.

Internship Proposal: Voice Class for Non-Majors (TA)

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to introduce you to Shannon Kelly, a master’s voice student working towards a MIE Concentration. This is her internship proposal for the Fall 2011 semester; you can view follow-up posts to this one here


I am writing to propose as my guided internship for the Fall 2012 semester my Teaching Assistantship for the NEC undergraduate course titled Voice Class for Non-Majors. For this class, I will teach a section of approximately 9 students each week in lecture format; in addition, I will provide one-on-one voice lessons to each student in the class for either 30 minutes or one hour each week.

My goals for the internship are as follows:

  • Gain experience and comfort teaching in a classroom setting, including preparing lessons, setting expectations, measuring student progress, and setting appropriate benchmarks for evaluating and grading student performance.
  • Evaluate and refine my classroom teaching style as observed through documentation and data collection.
  • Acquire a greater level of comfort and competence as a studio instructor.
  • Improve student engagement and learning as a result of techniques studied through MIE coursework.

My previous vocal teaching experience consists of one-on-one studio voice lessons and this individual experience is limited to a handful of private students. This will be my first real experience teaching regularly in a classroom setting. Therefore this internship is an important component of my development as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar.

I am enrolled in two MIE core courses in the Fall 2011 semester (Models for Teaching and Learning for MIE and Introduction to MIE) and also took the MIE Seminar in Spring 2011. I hope to use the internship as a testing ground for several techniques I studied during that course, including specific classroom teaching strategies and approaches to vocal technique and training gleaned from readings about developing talent.

This internship is relevant to my future plans as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar in that I hope to teach both individually and in a classroom/group setting, but have limited experience in either setting. Further, I find that teaching helps me develop as artist by solidifying my own technique and improving creative interpretation and expression in my own performances.

Concerning my best personal traits as a learner, I believe my two greatest assets are my curiosity and my willingness to learn. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the “growth mindset” in learning and I am eager to apply this concept as a teacher. I also feel that my willingness to learn is important in creating an enthusiasm for subject matter among the students I teach. I am eager to apply this concept and to refine techniques for keeping students engaged and enthusiastic about the learning process.

Internship Inquiry Questions

  • How do I need to adapt my teaching techniques (in group and private settings) to create active learning and growth for the students in this class?
  • How will teaching this course contribute to my development as an artist and a scholar as well as a teacher?

Documentation Strategy

  • Video recordings: I will record at least three classes and at least three private lessons with two different students over the course of the semester to try and track my learning process.
  • Student work: I have included several writing assignments that require students to reflect and comment on singing and the classical vocal repertoire as an art form. I feel that students’ reactions to performances, while varied, may reflect my effectiveness in creating an enthusiasm (or at least appreciation) for the art form.
  • Student Tests: Students’ performance on tests will also be a helpful feedback tool. Students’ improvement over the course of the semester will be the most important measure of teaching effectiveness.
  • Student performances: Students will also perform live for a jury as their final exam. I hope to use these performances as a marker of my effectiveness as a studio teacher, not simply in terms of students’ vocal technique but their confidence, engagement, and interpretation of the songs.
  • Student Evaluations: Student evaluations will be a critical tool for comparing student’s perceptions of the value of this course with my own perceptions about student engagement and learning. I will use these evaluations to refine both content and technique in the classroom and studio setting.

Exploring “Talent” in Dr. Larry Scipp’s Teaching Seminar

In my final semester at New England Conservatory, I’m interning as a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Scripp’s Teaching Seminar, one of the core courses in the Music-In-Education curriculum. I took the course a full year ago and really enjoyed the exposure to new concepts and the multiple perspectives from which we viewed the art of teaching and learning. Of course, year-to-year this particular course can change significantly; the topics explored are, to a certain degree, based on the interests of current class members as well as the latest literature with implications on teaching and learning.

One of the pieces of literature we’ve been reading as a class is Matthew Syed’s new book Bounce. In the spirit of Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, Syed explores the “science of success” by illuminating the hidden opportunities that have existed to create some of the most accomplished musicians, athletes and intellectuals on the planet. Syed challenges the notion of talent, a concept ingrained in the American psyche and romanticized by many, and points to concepts like the 10,000 hours theory of practice, domain expertise and what he calls a trajectory of development.

What helps to make Syed’s arguments so authentic is that he himself is a former elite athlete, an Olympian who became Britain’s no. 1 ranked table tennis player in 1995. Syed writes candidly about hidden opportunities that existed for him, such as the tournament-specification table tennis table that his parents bought and housed in their garage, on which Syed and his brother would duel for hours on end at a young age, creating for himself a trajectory of development that made it virtually impossible for thousands of other aspiring players to match. Another hidden opportunity existed in the fact that one of the nation’s top table tennis coaches taught at the primary school Syed attended, spotting Syed’s enhanced ability at the game and inviting him to join Omega, one of the elite table tennis clubs in the country. Syed states “… I had powerful advantages not available to hundreds of thousands of youngsters. I was, in effect, the best of a very small bunch. Or, to put it another way, I was the best of a very big bunch, only a tiny fraction of whom had my opportunities.”

Syed also explores the 10,ooo hours theory of practice, a recent theory of cognitive science that asserts it takes about 10,000 hours of purposeful practice for the human brain to assimilate all of the neural traces required for world-class expertise in anything. Syed cites a 1991 study by Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericsson, in which he and two colleagues conducted extensive interviews with violinists at the renowned Music Academy of Berlin. The violinists were categorized into three groups- the most outstanding performers, the very good performers, and the least able players who were studying to become music teachers.

Syed sums up, “By the age of twenty, the best violinists had practiced an average of ten thousand hours, more than two thousand hours more than the good violinists and more than six thousand hours more than the violinists hoping to become music teachers. These differences are not just statistically significant; they are extraordinary. Top performers had devoted thousands of additional hours to the task of becoming master perfomers. But that’s not all. Ericsson also found that there were no exceptions to this pattern: nobody who had reached the elite group without copious amounts of practice, and nobody who had worked their socks off but failed to excel. Purposeful practice was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest.”

So what are the implications of all of this for music, education and music-in-education? There are several. One implication on music performance is that this knowledge can help to nurture humble top performers. The knowledge that world-class expertise on an instrument is not the result of some innate talent but rather a product of countless hours of purposeful practice, often working in tandem with an early exposure to music that created a trajectory of development, can help to instill pride in top performers rather than a feeling of uniqueness. One of the most inspiring things I experience every so often is being in the presence of truly expert performers who are totally humble and unassuming in their personalities- this has a powerful musical effect as well.

Another implication is that we, as educators, should be able to teach complex skills (such as the learning of an instrument) more effectively now that we’re armed with the knowledge that it takes the brain about 10,000 hours to assimilate all of the necessary neural traces for expertise. It may be effective to explain to students the nature of how their brains create memory traces for the fine motor skills required to play an instrument, and that, with practice these traces become stronger and stronger, essentially becoming “wired” in them. Also, to be able to explain to students that expertise doesn’t happen overnight, and to reference the latest cognitive research on expertise, may help young students to gain a good perspective on things and avoid frustration when they expect to develop expertise more quickly than humanly possible.

Finally, an important implication for education in general is, in the words of Dr. Larry Scripp, “Teach every kid as if they’re talented.” In other words, don’t adjust expectations based on a preconceived notion of what students are and aren’t “talented,” because the latest science of expertise suggests that “talent” has far less to do with expertise than the aforementioned factors. Teach all students with the assumption that they will “get it,” because with enough determination, study and practice, chances are they will.

-Art Felluca

Teaching Seminar: Exploring Persona

Hi! My name is Justin Stanley, and while I am not new to the MIE at NEC News Blog, I am beginning a new role. As a documentation specialist, I plan to inquire into my own persona as an artist-teacher-scholar and what role documentation has in developing persona.

I want to see how documentation can affect me as artist (by carefully examining my practice and my lessons for French horn), a teacher (through examination of my work at Josiah Quincy Upper School), and as a scholar (through documentation of the Teaching Seminar and Warren Sender’s Improvisation in Music Education) as I build my portfolio.

The Music-in-Education Teaching Seminar at NEC, taught by Dr. Larry Scripp, met for the first time last Tuesday. The class is a little smaller this year than the first time I took the class in the spring of 09. Last year, the class seemed like a continuation of Intro to Music-in-Education, a class offered in the Fall by Professor Scripp. This time around, however, only two of the members of the Teaching Seminar – myself included – were members of the Intro class. Therefore, I feel like I saw the differences in the curriculum more clearly right from the start.

We spent most of the class talking, in one way or another, about ourselves as artists. Larry posed this simple question to all of us: “What is your persona as an artist?” Responses were surprisingly varied, ranging from being a vessel for a composer or character in performance to breaking down barriers in various cultural settings. One student found that his role as an artist changes from performing to composing to teaching. Later, a student that assists Professor Scripp in teaching his graduate solfége class explained his role and the responsibilities that come with that role as a teaching assistant. The following video presents parts of these discussions.

Exploring Persona

I predict that we’ll be diving into the artist-teacher-scholar framework very soon in this class, discussing our readings, teaching, and plans for teaching. This class brought up some interesting ideas for me. As a documentation specialist, I try to keep a very analytical eye toward what’s going on. As a horn player, I look for simplicity. As an artist, I try to constantly expand my horizons. As a teacher, I look to help others expand their horizons or develop their own personas. I wonder how valuable it is to be able to separate and put together one’s own roles in life. This is a topic I look forward to exploring as the semester continues.

MIE Portfolio Showcase: Multiple Personae and the Artist-Teacher-Scholar

NewsBlog Editor’s Note: This post is the first of a series in which MIE Concentration students have volunteered to share excerpts of their emergent MIE course portfolios. Graduate student Bianca Garcia has graciously volunteered to be our first portfolio example.

This blog is a sneak peek of my MIE511 Portfolio entitled, “Multiple Personas”.  In my portfolio I will attempt to define the concept of a “Persona”, describe my own personas as an artist, private teacher, and outreach performer, as well as answering the main inquiry I had throughout my time in the MIE Graduate Seminar with Professor Larry Scripp. 

The first chapter of my portfolio will feature my mission statement. It also will feature two inquiries: What is a “Persona”? & How does one best divide time between teacher and student activity in performance outreach?  Furthermore, the first chapter will highlight excerpts of my answers to Prof. Scripp’s “Persona Questionnaire.” 

The second chapter will give a perspective of my persona as a private flute teacher.  Towards the end of the MIE511 Graduate Seminar I obtained a new flute student, which gave me a chance to create a new persona as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar.  The role of the “Scholar” had been revealed to me by an in-class portfolio exhibit by Laura Umbro.  The concept of documentation in private lessons was impressed upon my mind and as a result, I formulated a “Lesson and Practice Notes” guide that would provide documentation of student progress, as well as foster the student’s own persona as an artist-scholar.  It also implements the Learning Through Music (LTM) Five Fundamental Processes that are intrinsic to fully engaged learning in music.  Another reason for my creation of the aforementioned guide was because my philosophy on private lessons had been stimulated by words of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.  Below is part of a Double Entry I had written (with Csikszentmihalyi’s quotes on the right and my words on the left).


Quotes: Comments:
“…if an organism learns to find a positive experience in doing something that stretches its ability…you’re likely to learn new things, to become better at what you’re doing, to invent new things, to discover new things.” This quote describes the quintessential pedagogy—one that stretches a student’s ability through positive experience.  This positive working energy spawns other excess work, such as learning more than is required, becoming better than required, inventing new ways to overcome obstacles and discovering on their own, outside of lessons.
“When you begin to enjoy things that go beyond survival, then there’s more of a chance to transform yourself and to evolve.” Enjoying things that go beyond survival- in terms of a music student’s survival means avoiding being thrown out of a teacher’s studio.  Instead, if a student gets beyond survival and starts evolving and can hear their playing transform—then they’ll be enjoying themselves!

Finally, my portfolio will feature my persona as an outreach performer.  Again material from my Persona Questionnaire will be displayed, this time including real-life experiences from my many years of performance outreach.  It also will feature a special chart I made that covers outreach performances from 2002 until this year and shows the ratio of performer versus audience activity in each outreach and documents a steady direction I have taken in dividing activity between the two.  The creation of this chart was made in response to my main inquiry and with inspiration from various articles recommended by Prof. Scripp and colleagues in my MIE511 class.  Among these articles was “Crossing Boundaries” by Gail Burnaford in which she describes Music-In-Education as “entrepreneurship”.  According to this simile, Music-In-Education would then require creativity, pioneering, and fulfilling needs.  I believe this description would find a parallel in the Artist-Teacher-Scholar framework as fulfilling needs definitely aligns with the persona of an artist, creativity with a teacher, and pioneering with a scholar.  Another article I read from class suggestion was “The Teaching Artist and the Artistry of Teaching” by Eric Booth.  In this article, Booth quotes an old adage: “80% of teaching is who you are”.  This quote struck me and caused me to reflect on my former collaboration with the From the Top radio show.  I started an internship with the From the Top radio show’s Education department at the beginning of Spring Semester; however, I had formerly been a From the Top “cultural leader” as a teen flutist.  Something about the experience had felt really powerful and meaningful.  I was not a certified educator and had never taught a class, but children in schools that I had visited enthusiastically received my performance- wanting to hear more than I had prepared, wrote letters to me that looked up to me as a person, and expressed their desires to start playing my instrument.  Later, I learned From the Top’s mission through their education program—“we provide a platform for young artists to present themselves, share their passion, and develop into inspirational peer models.”  These aspects of teaching shine through outreach performance.  They both also relate to one’s persona as an outreach performer.  Musicians in any educational setting are role models, as teachers or visitors, and children are imitators and balls of energy; therefore, we must be at the peak of our behavior and musicianship while presenting for them and our presentations must involve them.

To find my “Practice and Lesson Notes” guide, its basis in the LTM framework, and the Ratio of Student/Teacher Activity chart, look at the attachments below.

  • Lesson & Practice Notes Guide [DOC]
  • LTM Five Processes in “Lesson & Practice Notes” Guide [DOC]
  • Chart of Outreach Activity Ratio [DOC]

    -Bianca Garcia

    Bianca Garcia is a graduate flute performance major. An alumna of the Curtis Institute of Music and NPR’s “From The Top” radio program, Bianca has long been involved with performance outreach and is finishing her first year in New England Conservatory’s Music-In-Education Concentration program.

  • MIE Studies in Process, Part II: Integration from a Different Angle

    I wanted to impart some knowledge I gained from my experiences in Larry Scripp’s Graduate Seminar class this week. After having time to reflect and create a descriptive review of the videos posted last week, we (as a class) watched the videos, and came up with some pretty interesting discoveries.

    In live performance, it was agreed upon by the class that Shanshan’s clarinet playing was much too quiet to balance Vito’s voice. However, the balance was the opposite in the video; we could barely hear Vito’s recitation. This brought in the question, “How were we measuring balance to begin with in the live performance?” I believe that we could take in the whole picture when it was live, meaning that we were determining balance between not only the sounds and their volumes, but by the actions/gestures as well. Vito was simply more animated in person, which contributed to him sounding louder. In viewing the video, however, one is unable to control what or whom they are looking at, so it then falls into the hands of the cinemitographer. This third person now has complete control of how the live performance is being presented whether he/she knows it or not!

    These elements came up in class, because after watching the videos, we were all left with a hollowed feeling of what we experienced live. So, we wanted to understand why that happened.

    Here’s a challenge: View the first two videos. Try to imagine, if you can, seeing this performance live and then seeing the video. What are your observations? Also, since you probably did not see the performance live, try to describe how a live performance might take away from your first experience… Enjoy.


    Brynn Rector is a graduate trumpet performance major at New England Conservatory, and Research Assistant for the Center for Music-in-Education.