“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” – Thelonious Monk

Last week in my learning project I considered it a big accomplishment for myself. Feel free to view last weeks accomplishment here. My progress allowed me to learn two songs, “Three Blind Mice” and “Happy Birthday” on the keyboard using material from Piano Song Download as well as by watching a quick tutorial on note and hand location on the keyboard from a resourceful YouTube video.

I wanted to start by recapping some of the crucial information I learned last week that includes piano note location and how to orient your hands on the keyboard or piano. To do this I am attempting to use Screencastify to provide the annotated screen shots provided by Skitch which I found available for free download here. Skitch allows the user to annotate screen shots by adding texts and arrows for users to follow along. Check out the introduction to piano and keyboard I created here. If I made any glaring mistakes please let me know in the comments.

I apologize for the beam of light above my head
I will try to arrange myself in a different location for next Screencastify

This week I decided to try a couple of different apps found on the Apple App Store or Google Play. The first one I started with was called “Simply Piano.” Now contrary to the website at Piano Song Download this app has you reading sheet music from the beginning. The app was easy to access; a simple download and I was in without the use of a login or need to sign up. I decided to play it coy, and identified myself as a beginner from a menu. The next question asked was in regards to your ambitions; I noted I was hoping to make piano playing a new hobby. Finally you could select a song to play as your goal. I chose “Baby Shark.”

Simply Piano led me through a series of note playing exercises that focused on my right hand and all 5 notes A – G. I found this app very easy to use and it moved along at a good pace providing challenging note skips going from C to F to D to G and so on. The real cool feature about this was that it used the microphone in the phone to detect if my notes were correct. It worked seamless for me. However just like my posting title says, I most times felt I was playing all the correct notes, but the Simply Piano app thought otherwise. I used my Iphone as the tech source for these lessons. Again I felt comfortable doing it, and also included a short video of my 7 year old daughter trying out the tech source. Check them out:

Using Simply Piano to learn right hand notes
Daughter using Simply Piano

Using this app I was credited with completing Essentials 1 in their curriculum. A lot of the next material was locked asking for payment but I found some mini workouts that made it fun to start playing along with familiar songs. This kept the lesson engaging as I found myself tapping along to the beat. Here is me playing along (right hand only) to Sugar by Maroon 5:

So, as I mentioned, I found a lot of the information on the app was locked and needed a subscription. However I had lots of luck with the “5 Min workouts.”I would still consider this week a success. I would say that I improved my ability to read the basic sheet music note location and also improved some of the coordination in my right hand. I will have to continue to search apps with some more free content in this journey. In my conversations I have had people mention Note Quest and Flow Key. I look forward to trying these out and reflecting upon them in my next post. Till then I will leave you with some Baby Shark. And remember there are no wrong notes!

Baby Shark

“Any participation, even in the smallest public function is useful.” – John Stuart Mill

The term ‘participatory culture‘ was new to me when introduced in class discussion on May 21,2020. The idea that we all can contribute to culture was a new concept to me. The idea of culture for me has always been something that was handed down to you from generation to generation, very similar to the definition you may find in a dictionary. Culture to me, was or is a set of beliefs and traditions that was passed down for me to hold, respect, value and pass on to the next generation. In a sense culture was a “top down” approach or handling thereof.

The idea that culture could be passed on laterally through self generated content was interesting to me. The concept that I have the possibility to create culture is powerful. The technological tools at our disposal now a days can allow me to create and produce media for all to witness and experience. This idea that we can all belong to culture has became known as participatory culture as explained during class May 21, 2020. If not familiar a quick description of this concept can be found in the video below:

In class lecture we learned that one of the first large scale examples of this participatory culture was the phenomenon that came with the ‘Numa Numa’ video. A video blogger, Gary Brolsma created a dance choreographed to the song “Dragostea Din Tei” as performed by O-Zone. Soon people around the world were re-creating the dance not in ridicule but in celebration as they participated in this phenomenon. They created self directed, self produced content and broadcast it for the rest of the world to see. This dance video has been viewed 10’s of millions of times, but to be honest I do not recall ever seeing it. At the time of release in 2006 I would have been 23 years old, a junior at the University of Waterloo. Nonetheless, here is a copy of the video below for your enjoyment, if you are like me and living under a rock during this time, and have not seen it yet.

What does this mean for education moving forward? The students in our classrooms have grown up in this participatory culture their entire lives and for the majority of the students, access to technology and a data connection have been at their fingertips since birth. As presented in class lecture many have had a digital footprint created that precedes their birth into this world. Due to this we need to rethink the way we educate the youth in our schools. With access to information so readily available and most abstract concepts available to be viewed on YouTube on demand, how we engage our students must change.

The following post posted by Filament Games provided some insight on how to begin to bring participatory culture into the classroom. They suggested that students engage in a self directed learning project at least once per quarter. It is important they advise because students are already creating items in self directed study. Students are creating videos, music and art all on their own. Another insight they provided was the creation of a class blog. Encouraging students to participate in a class blog where they can post their content online for the class and/or school to see is another example of incorporating participatory culture in the classroom. Throughout this blogging activity the encourage the educator to allow the students to practice this content creation in a less formal manner.

Participatory culture is not new in of itself. The Amateur Press Association is credited with the emergence of participatory culture. Young people were hand typing and printing their own publications. These publications were mailed throughout a network of people and resemble what are now called social networks. However the advances of technology have changed the way in which we participate and receive these messages. With the inclusion of technology does come challenges. The first one that comes to mind is the digital divide. As we deal with tightening school budgets and poverty in our communities, incorporating the mediascape around us may prove to be difficult to include everyone. Another difficulty that comes to mind is any time you are dealing with the internet sensitive material not suitable to schools may arise.

However these challenges also present opportunity to us the educators. When schools are criticized for not preparing students for real life situations the opportunity to educate our students on their digital footprint is never more important. Discussions and learning surrounding the online world, and the proverbial ‘trolls’ and ‘hackers’ that exist also seem more important now a days. Whether it be education of our digital connected world or contribution to the digital world the opportunity is front of us for educators to seize.

“These fingers of mine, they got brains in ’em. You don’t tell them what to do – they do it.” -Jerry Lee Lewis

What have I gotten myself in to?

As I reflect on my first self taught piano lesson, I start to shake my head and wonder what I have signed up for. As noted in my previous entry my baseline for this learning project was the fact that I had taken MUS 101 from the University of Saskatchewan and learned how to read basic sheet music, albeit over 2 years ago. Well, I quickly learned any retained knowledge wasn’t going to flatten the learning curve (no pun intended due to Covid-19). Half way through my first video my head started to spin and my fingers started to tremble.

I started off by watching this particular YouTube video:

Creator of this content is Dylan Laine, a music graduate from Berklee College of Music. According to its website it is the premier music college and peforming arts conservatory. I found the first 7 minutes of this video very helpful. Within these first 7 minutes it had refreshed me on probably 50 percent of the content from that semester in MUS 101. She covered the note names (A, B, C, D,E, F, G), and then proceeded to locate yourself on a piano or keyboard. Next Dylan started to explain “sharps” and “flats.” It was all coming back to me now. With the introduction of sharps I remembered that two notes could have the same name, i.e. B sharp is a C, or B flat is also an A Sharp. As you read my blog, please feel free to comment and correct me if I am wrong. Again I will need all the help I can get.

Once we located ourselves on the keyboard the nice tip she provided was to make sure and have our wrists straight and pretend we are cradling a ball under my hands. It was at this point she lost me. The discussion moved towards major and minor chords. I remember covering these in my previous course but in no way found myself coordinated yet to play one of these major or minor chords. A chord consists of playing three individual notes at the same time (blocked chord). I am not ready for this. I moved on to a new video. I found a tutorial on how to play “3 Blind Mice” and figured why not, lets jump in.

I loved the content produced by this organization, Piano Song Download. The videos available on YouTube were very easy for me to learn from. A basic knowledge of the keyboard is required, as well as location of the notes. I felt that from the first video I watched I was able to tackle this song. I started this song by watching the content on my laptop (viewable in the background, but quickly switched to an Ipad placed where traditional sheet music would be propped.

There are two reasons I enjoyed this content. First, I did not have to teach myself to read sheet music in order to play this song. Secondly, YouTube allows the viewer to slow down or speed up the play back which meant I could play this song in slow motion to get the finger movements down and then speed up. If you watch the clips below you will note the early version of the songs are longer than the final due to this fact. Pay careful attention to the IPad screen, as it feelt like the video game “Guitar Hero” with the upcoming notes falling and indicating to the viewer what to play next. Feel free to watch below:

Sorry Trevor, I forgot to turn my hat around the right way.

After some practice this rendition turned into this much better version. You will note I am reading sheet music in this video. I have to admit I had some help from my wife. She prefers sheet music and was able to write the corresponding letter notes for me to read as I went along.

Hat on the right way.

Feeling confident I was not about to stop at one song for this learning session. I thought I should learn another song from Piano Song Download, so I decided on “Happy Birthday.” The first version again is longer than the second. For the play back in the second video I increased the playback speed to 1.75x the original. Ill post the early and final version back to back, below for you to check out:

I have to admit I am pretty happy with my progress thus far. I have learned two songs so far from using free online resources. I am not much further ahead in terms of reading the sheet music to accompany the musical works, but I can move my fingers in a way that resembles some early learning and recgonizable songs.

What’s next? I am hesitant to put a goal of learning a new song for each blog post. I think I would like to try some free Apps from the Apple Store. I mentioned an app Simply Piano in my previous entry, and have heard in discussion from a couple other people about the popularity of this app. Now that I have immersed myself in the material out there perhaps I could target a goal of being able to play a major or minor chord within a song. To be determined.

However, I will leave you with the following video. Next time you are at a sporting event and see an organist being ejected for playing Three Blind Mice, stand up, look around because it might just be me needing a ride home early. Thanks for reading.

“Put it on the line”

If you don’t recognize the title of this post, it comes from the movie, “The Internship.” Two career sales force employees look to reinvent themselves and earn internships at Google but struggle to keep up and learn the technology advancements.

This short video somewhat describes my experience in EDTC 300 thus far. In 4 short classes we have been exposed to many technologies, that really are not that new to the world but are completely revolutionizing the way I look at media technology and how they interact with education. WordPress, Twitter, Feedly, and not to mention the dozens of educational tools presented in the May 12, 2020 class discussion.

The May 14, 2020 discussion was all about trying to improve our Twitter usage and experience. I have had a twitter account since 2011 however I never considered myself to be a contributor to the Twitter world. I would refer to myself as a consumer of (a.k.a. lurker as it was used in class discussion) social media including twitter. In the past I have been hesitant to tweet or “put it on the line” for fear of difference of opinions with other people or perhaps making one slip that may impact me negatively going forward. I used to view social media (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram) as tools people would use to “brag” about themselves, others, family members etc. But this begs the question, why do I follow or friend people? My personal thinking and the existence of my accounts accounts seem counter intuitive. I may not be ready, or perhaps starting to get comfortable to share about myself “on the line” but I do want to see what friends and acquaintances are doing or accomplishing. By nature I find myself to be a quiet, humble person more willing to listen to others ideas and opinions before expressing my own which may lead me to be hesitant in expressing myself. The initial class in EDTC 300 provided readings that started to open my eyes to the importance of creating an online presence and being active in different social networks. Creating a positive online presence will help to control initial perceptions by others in a world where identity theft seems so prevalent.

There was no better way to learn the power of Twitter than to be thrust right into a live chat facilitated by #saskedchat on the evening of May 14, 2020. To help streamline the process, the use of Tweetdeck to help follow along with the conversation created an incredible experience for myself. In the world of podcasts, Facebook or Instagram Live, I found the one hour spent on this live chat to be just as valuable in the same amount of time it takes to listen to a podcast or watch a live social media broadcast. This avenue also allowed myself the opportunity to connect with real life people and to start to create a personal learning network.

What does twitter look like in the classroom? From observing some of the amenities provided in the Twitter platform i.e. “lists,” I believe this could be a powerful tool to communicate with students. The idea of informing students about upcoming lesson plans, tasks and assignments comes immediately to mind. However on the flip side the concern that comes with this for me is how do we bridge any digital divides that may exist in our communities. We still have rural communities in Saskatchewan with spotty internet coverage and communities with poverty that prevent access to telecommunications.

I look forward to joining more live chats and collaborating with other professionals in the EDTC 300 journey.

Tweet Up“Tweet Up” by MDGovpics is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In a digital world we can’t forget about relationship

As I await word on my internship semester coming up in September 2020, I can’t stop myself from thinking what elementary and high school will look like in September 2020 and beyond. The global health pandemic has thrust educators across Canada into remote teaching scenarios for delivery of educational curriculum. If the recent announcements from Saskatchewan’s two prominent educational institutions is any foreshadowing at all, a return to a normal school like setting may not be returning too swiftly. On May 12 the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan announced that course delivery for the fall 2020 semester would continue to be delivered remotely.

Continue reading “In a digital world we can’t forget about relationship”

Learning Piano

I have chosen to attempt to learn the piano as my EDTC 300 learning project. Two years ago my wife and I decided to sign up our daughter, Adrianna, who was 5 years old at the time, for piano lessons. We have been taking her to Mosaic Music for the past two years and we are thrilled with the studio, and her instructor Danica. We both believed in the acquisition of musical knowledge to be a very important skill to have.

Viewable below is a humble brag about my daughter; a short video of her piano progress to the end of this current year music lessons. I don’t expect myself to get this far in my musical journey during the EDTC 300 course but maybe someday I will progress far enough to be able to practice along side my children.

Adrianna age 7, April 13, 2020

My wife had grown up learning piano throughout her elementary school years. When practice gets a little tough in the evening my wife is able to walk our daughter through some of the challenges encountered. Me on the other hand, learning the recorder in grade 5 is about the extent of my musical background.

Interestingly enough, I will be learning on a piano keyboard purchased by my parents for my sister. Twenty five years and 3000 km’s later my daughter and I will be learning and practicing on the same model. I brought this unit back with me to Prince Albert, SK., from Toronto, ON., area when my parents downsized and cleaned out their living accommodations.

In the winter of 2018 I completed the course “MUS 100” at the University of Saskatchewan in preparation for applying to the Faculty of Education. I would consider the knowledge acquired in this class my baseline for learning the piano. This particular class did not have a practical element to its study. The concentration of knowledge was centered on learning to read and write sheet music at its basic levels. However, 2 1/2 years removed from this course and all I am able to recall are the acronyms “FACE” and “Evil Goats Burn Down Farms.” Correct me if I am wrong but I believe these acronyms describe the location of notes in the treble clef. Feel free to comment below and correct me, I will need all the help I can get.

For my learning I am prepared to use various online resources. A quick search on YouTube for “learn piano for beginners” brings up a plethora of videos containing theory lessons, tips and tricks. I also want to explore with apps for my Iphone and Ipad. In my search I have come across the app called Note Quest, that I would like to use. Another app I have found is Simply Piano. In my preliminary research both of these apps appear to be free and provide simple to understand lessons. I truly have no idea where I will end up at the end of this 6 week time frame. I would like to say that I would like to be able to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by the end of the 6 weeks.

I look forward to my journey over the next 6 weeks. I will leave you with a short tribute to one of the best rock n roll pianists below who recently passed away. Obviously I won’t end up with an ability anywhere close to this, but one can dream.

And so it begins…

After 12 years in the financial services industry I needed a change. I had been coaching youth hockey for the past 12 years and really enjoyed the experiences that accompanied working with youth and watching them learn and grow. I had been contemplating a career as an educator for about 2 years prior to enrolling in the B.Ed After Degree program at the University of Regina. In the spring of 2019 I was accepted into the education faculty and joined the education cohort at Cumberland College in Melfort, SK.

So, on September 9, 2019, at the age of 35, I packed my lunch into my backpack (same one I used when I graduated in 2007) and headed off for my first day of school in Melfort.

Fast forward 9 months and ten courses later and I decided to enroll in EDTC 300 to help lighten my course load for 4th year in January 2021, post internship. I did not know what to expect from this course. Effective use of technology is not my strong suit. After the first two classes I know I will be challenged; albeit in a positive way. The requirement to use WordPress as the platform almost seems ironic. About 2 months ago I was toying with the idea of creating a website to help promote my venture and had created a WordPress account. I created the account, selected my URL and tried for about an hour to figure it out. It has sat dormant till know. I learned so much in the ninety minute discussion on May 7, 2020, that will help me in creating a positive way to promote my side venture. I did more editing to this site in one hour than the previous 2 months.

Blogging is something that is very new to me. I knew blogs existed but do/did not understand their purpose. After the suggested readings from class May 5, 2020 it makes more sense. The idea of controlling your web presence, presented in the Forbes.com article written by Dan Schawbel, really resonated with me. I look forward now to the idea and challenge of an e-portfolio accompanying (and soon replacing) the traditional resume. In hopes of further learning to control my digital presence I have created a new twitter account to use alongside EDTC 300 this spring. Please feel free to follow me on twitter at MrFFazio.