Music Education for Newfoudland and Labrador and beyond MUN Music Education

In the effort to keep in touch and also in hopes of making our journeys in music education over the next months the best they can be– here is NEWSLETTER # 1 - with a long list of pertinent information!  You may want to get a cup of tea, or something stronger, but please settle in and read everything – there are some very important and timely tasks that I hope you will attend to right away!

I expect all of you have numerous questions – about courses, about expectations, and, perhaps most urgently, about ‘in-person’ classes for the Fall.

‘Together ~ In Person’
Let me start with the ‘in-person’ aspect. At this point MUN Administration is hopeful that we can all be 100% in-person in September. Of course, this hope is conditioned by public health advisory measures. We all want everyone to be safe: that is always going to be a priority.
This week, our Premier, Andrew Furey (by the way a supporter of music education…) announced ‘
Together Again’ - the plan for re-opening in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a fairly complex document as you can imagine, but it gives some very specific guidelines for how people can travel to and be in this province over the coming months. There is a summary ‘at-a-glance’ pdf here. I interpret the language of these documents to be saying that authorities are hoping/expecting that individual vaccinations (2 doses) will be the option taken by all of us whether already here in NL or moving here from elsewhere in Canada.
NB: I do not yet know what Memorial’s policies are going to be for September– but I fully expect they will be in alignment with NL Health Authorities. So –
please do consider obtaining your vaccinations as soon as you are able to do so.


Courses for Summer and Fall 2021
Classes in Music Ed for Fall 2021 will include: ED 2500 (Orientation to Music Education); ED 2515 (Primary/Elementary Music Methods) and ED 3920 (Instrumental Music Methods) as well the continuation of ED 4870/71 Music Education Foundations Institutes (see below).
In addition, you should be planning to complete at least 1 but possible 2 of your ‘other’ education courses (i.e. the non-Music Ed ones). The Fall Semester is a busy and yet enjoyable and inspiring one. The schedule for these three courses above will be out very soon I hope. ‘typically our Music Ed classes have been Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. As the schedule develops I will create a weekly overall schedule for Music Education (you’ll get that in Newsletter #2!)

What is still unclear from Memorial Administration is how ‘density’ will work on campus with in-person classes. There will be c. 25 of us in the Music Ed classes and physical distance requirements may place some restrictions on which rooms we will be allowed to use. We also will be singing and blowing in instruments, and it is possible that there will be some restrictions around doing those things too. I simply don’t know at this point what thy might be. That said, I am committed to holding the majority of our Fall classes
together in one place as opposed to either a hybrid or remote model. All that to say, you WILL want to be in St. John’s in order to attend the classes!

Regarding ED 4870 and ED 4871 (Music Education Foundations Institute):
Thanks so much for filling in your various music education competencies and needs in the Memorial B. Music Education Program google forms survey. If you haven’t yet done so (and many have not!), please go to the link and help me with the information. It is very helpful to have for planning. Our Foundations Institute is ‘set’ of courses. If you identify as needing any instrumental techniques, I strongly urge you to consider taking this set. We have assembled a marvellous team of teachers to lead these classes and you will learn the basics of various itechniques and also helpful pedagogical approaches (and even some practice) for teaching these techniques to beginners. Thus, even if you can play an instrument quite well, you be learning helpful ways to help younger and beginner learners into that instrument. Another aspect is that you can be a fine help to a colleague if you already have some chops and wisdom you can share. The teachers enjoy some collegial assistance in all cases!
We will have classes in violin, cello, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and percussion. Also, we’ll have some foundational body mapping material led by Jennifer Johnson, and I will be giving some refresher conducting materials as well as some vocal pedagogy foundations from the
Estill Voice Training program.

Although these Ed 4870/71courses are not ‘required’ for the degree, competencies are required in order to be able to complete the Lab band and Orchestra and Lab Choir components of your program. Competencies are expected for graduation from the B. Music Ed. Degree program and these courses are intended to assure that for you. Thus, everyone should try to sign in for at least one of these course numbers. If you need more than one instrumental techniques course (eg. flute and strings, or brass and reeds, or brass, reeds, flute, cello…or ??? ) then please consider signing up for BOTH numbers. This will ensure that you have all instruments covered. (If you are only doing one of them, please use Ed 4871 as the number). I know that these courses may require extra fees for some of you, but frankly MUN’s fees are still fairly low compared to almost every other place. And my hope is to ensure that you will have good value for your cash. You’ll have lots of good teaching resources and examples to use when you are making that grand income as a music educator! You’ll also meet and work with some extraordinary and inspiring teachers.

I have asked that all B. Music Ed students can register for summer classes, and also to be able to take an overload in order to accommodate you taking ED 4870 and or ED 4871. Please let me know if you are being challenged in doing this.



ED 4870/71 will begin during the Summer – The actual schedule is still in flux a bit due to the recent news of ‘freedom’ for going places (!!) – However, we will be working on at least violin, cello, flute, voice and a bit of conducting starting in mid-late July and through August and into September. The other instruments’ classes will unfold in September, October and November. The classes will be held remotely on ZOOM, so you can be anywhere with an internet connection. You will be responsible for obtaining the instruments needed. If you don’t own these, I suggest that your local Long and McQuade store (or similar) will likely be the best option. They rent at very good rates, and you can rely on having a decent student model instrument that works. (I do not work for L and M … but I generally respect their services to music education.). Happily, you won’t need to rent your voice from L and M!


Remote (online) Classes in Music Education / Home Internet Quality
Our in-person classes will have lots of interactive play and discussion. But we will hope to be able simulate some of this in remote classes (Ed 4870/71) too. I know that being ‘in the screen’ with video may be personally challenging for some. MUN’s policies suggest that there not be an insistence of using video and recording in classes and, as teachers/professors at MUN, our classes will have to uphold those policies. Equally I hope you can consider that music education is not only aural, but rather holistic – involving all of the senses, all awarenesses, all aspects of being human. Teaching and learning in music is a process of acknowledging and upholding all of these individually and simultaneously. In your B Music Ed program this year our intention is to find the best ways to immerse ourselves in music teaching and learning – being open to using the widest range and nuances of both in-person learning and online technology possibilities. Recording a remote class, for example, means that one can revisit an experience for note-taking and reflection in a different way than doing the same thing from memory. Being able to notice a person’s hand-shape up close, may be a way to notice something remarkable about playing the violin, or guitar. Seeing and mirroring muscle and bone movement is hugely beneficial in teaching and learning in music. And with recordings that can be revisited, reinvestigated, re-experienced, remembered. We can assure each other that no video and audio recordings will be further shared in any way without complete permissions being given by all concerned.  Thus, my hope is that, generally, ZOOM (remote) classes will be fully open with both video/audio with options for recording the class. Please let me know if you have any concerns or further questions about this. I know that there are numerous issues with this ‘new normal,’ and please know that I am open to listening to and acknowledging any concerns you may have.

One such issue about online teaching and learning is that bandwidth and online access can be challenging in some parts of our lovely province and beyond! Perhaps you can each do some investigating as to optimum internet access for yourself wherever you will be for the Foundations Institute classes. You can use a website such as
https://www.speedtest.net/ or the like to make sure you have sufficient wifi/internet connection speed in order to be able to be in classes without freezing or seeing others freeze. This will help optimize your learning experience and minimize any audio and video glitches during our classes. We, for the most part, will be using  ZOOM, which requires a minimum of 10mbps for upload and download but of course the higher the numbers are, the better. You may want to find a way to avoid using your internet/TV connections at the same time as others in your house since that may assist with download/upload speeds. Essentially, any ways in which you can reduce the bandwidth use in your house while still being able to be present in both audio and video will really help in making our classes as free from issues as possible. THANKS! That said, it is important to remember that sometimes bandwidth is simply beyond our control - so there is absolutely no need to feel apologetic when (and this will happen!) things don’t work easily.
 
Computer and Laptop
I am recommending that we all do our best to use a computer or a laptop for online classes and lessons, rather than a phone or even a tablet. PCs have bigger screens so will be good for interacting with each other through movement and music games, as well as for instrumental instructions. Try to find a way to angle your PC’s video camera so as to present yourself clearly. Maybe placing it on some books or wall-mount will help? You may wish to consider a decent webcam instead. Balancing your laptop on your knee or couch is not a god idea because any movement in your video feed increases your bandwidth use and so causes freezing more readily.
 
Lighting in Your Room
Let’s agree to have sufficient light in the rooms where we will be during online classes. This allows us to be aware of important considerations that have implications for musicianship (body postures, hand techniques, etc.) that we will be considering during our interactive classes. You do not need a professional lighting kit: standard room lights should suffice. It is good to have the light in front of you rather than a light (from windows, etc) from behind you.  If you want to experiment with what you look like – open your ZOOM account and see yourself, - adjust the light to show yourself clearly. You can also record yourself (playing an instrument perhaps) with using the sound set-up you have in ZOOM in order to have a better idea of what you’ll sound like in our online classes. Take some time to find some good solutions now in preparation for our time together in later in the summer.
 
 
Audio and Sound
Although we won’t require you to use an external microphone, it may be a good idea to have one for optimum communication of the sounds you will be contributing to classes. Built-in microphones on a computer or a mobile phone do not deliver the best quality sound and there are often issues with clarity of pitch and rhythm.  However, if an external microphone isn’t accessible to you, please do not worry about it. We’ll all do our best to work with the variety of audio settings. I also urge you to have an external speaker rather than plugged in ear-buds or a headset – that is so we can move around in the room and still be part of the class – i.e. not in need of being plugged into the computer or even near it. Being able to move is important for music making, so providing yourself some freedom from your screen will be good.
 
Please Download Zoom
As mentioned above, we will, for the most part, be using using ZOOM for our interactive classes and lessons online. ZOOM generally provides the most amenable soundscape in the online environment. Probably most of us are used to ZOOM now, but if you have not installed or used the program, please make sure to do that as soon as possible and learn the basics of this program. A while ago I found this video for assistance if you are downloading and using Zoom for the first time. YOU can download a free version from the ZOOM site.
 

Other Details:


Books and materials 
In the next few weeks we will be putting the finishing touches on books and materials needs for the Fall and Winter semesters in Music Education and will let you know these. These should be available through the MUN bookstore. Of course, you are welcome to order books from another source. I have been finding, though, that shipping, particularly from the USA, seems to be taking ages longer than usual. We try, in Music Ed, to have books that can be used across various courses so we hope that will reduce costs for you. We also have tried to have a few e-books on the list. That said, music books – even online versions, tend to cost more than others due to the limited market. Do keep some cash aside for book purchases!
More info in Newsletter #2!
Google Docs

I have asked (in the survey linked above) for your GOOGLE account email. If you do not have an email that is attached to Google please create one. (gmail, for example is free). I ‘believe’ you can connect your MUN email to google. (As a Faculty person I cannot for some reason unbeknownst to me!) Many of our materials will be housed in a Shared Google Drove folder. I do this because this folder will be available to you for ever as opposed to MUN’s Brightspace folders that expire when courses end. Thanks for attending to this soon – so will all have full access to pertinent documents. The B Music Ed overall Schedule, for example, will be in a google sheets link.

Summary of ‘to dos’:
  1. 1. Fill in the Instrument Techniques Survey if you have not yet done so
  2. 2. If desired, please register for Ed 4870/71
  3. 3. Consider becoming doubly vaccinated against COVID-19
  4. 4. Our first ‘meeting’ together in person will be September 7 here in St. John’s! Please plan your travel and any potential isolations accordingly.
  5. 5. Continue to enjoy your late Spring and Summer days. Fall will be upon us and ‘busy’ will become a word you kwow!
Finally, (last but certainly not least!) I am excited to share in your Music Education journeys! All of your teachers are eager to meet you and play and learn with you. THANK YOU for joining us here at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Watch for Newsletter # 2 soon!
Best wishes
David