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- Friday, April 23, 2021:
Tech Primer Day
Now available for public download is the 10-issue Uri Tech Primer, which I wrote at work to help explain what my company does and why it matters. If you've ever heard a phrase like "cloud" or "machine learning" and want an intro that's more interesting than a Wikipedia entry, this one's for you.
You can learn more and download the PDF (18 MB) on the company blog .
- Tuesday, October 01, 2013:
To date, I've put in about 44 hours planning out Auricle , and have a pretty decent vision of where I want to go with it. It's easy to come up with course topics -- the difficult part is how they are presented, right?
I've decided to split exercises into three types:
See : Standard online quiz format with visual questions and visual answers, such as "Select the P5 out of the 4 displayed chords", completely divorced from any piano keyboard visualization.
Hear : Classic aural skills questions with audio questions and visual answers, such as "Identify this interval", again without keyboard.
Play : A mix of hear/see questions, but...
- Wednesday, January 07, 2009:
Stuff in My Drawers Day: Letters of Recommendation
When I was at Florida State pretending to know something about music composition, I had a top secret source who worked in the music office and lived with Chompy pilfer the secret letters of recommendation from my permanent file.
It's interesting that one of the most impressive skills on my resum? at the time was that I could use Finale to notate music -- so the tunes may have sounded like rats walking through peanut butter, but they looked really pretty. This is similar to my grad school experience, which can be boiled down to the fact that I was the guy who popularized the Technical font . I remember the time I gave a pedagogical presentation on enharmonic modulation, after which Dr. ...
- Wednesday, May 16, 2007:
Memory Day: Assistantships
At the end of last Wednesday's post , I had just completed a relaxing year of being a graduate research assistant with absolutely no responsibilities. Though pleasant, it did not give me any real-world teaching experience for my eventual career as an academic in the music world (although I will now be an expert at picking up my Unemployment check, should I ever lose my job). For my second year, I was picked up as a super-assistant in music theory for one of my favourite professors, Dr. Peter Spencer. "Stephen Foster really irritates me [...] He writes these smarmy, nasty, little tunes [...] But it is a good example of a two-phrase period, blast him!" - Peter Spencer, in a diatribe on the a...
- Wednesday, May 09, 2007:
Memory Day: Assistantships
In most cases, graduate school is far cheaper than your run-of-the-mill college experience because of that nifty little occupation known as the assistantship. A graduate assistant is defined as the person who will do everything the professor doesn't want to do for one percent of the till and a rebate on tuition fees. Because academics are far too busy to actually want to teach anything, there are a million billion available assistantships all over the globe, and anyone who says they can't find an opening at even one university probably put as much effort into their search as Jim Swearingen puts into writing his band arrangements. I was employed by the great state of Florida (which is just like California, but with red...
- Wednesday, October 18, 2006:
Letters of Recommendation
In an ephemeral span of nine days in February 2003, I wrote eight letters of recommendation that would ultimately change the course of Man's evolution. You see, Florida State had built an all-inclusive dormitory specifically for music majors, where students could live in high tech suites with computer labs, practice rooms, and classrooms all in the same building. The concept was very similar to that of a mental hospital, but with slightly more sanitary conditions. As an aside, it should also be noted that Virginia Tech tried the same type of idea, and ended up with an abandoned building that used to be a campus hospital, with one classroom and forty-seven used hypodermic needles littering the floors like pointy presents for picc...
- Wednesday, April 02, 2003:
The above excerpt was the April Fools' dictation example for yesterday's classes. My first class caught wind of the joke before I could get very far, but my second class panicked, especially since they had only learned compound meter some ten minutes beforehand.
The Verne Troyer guest appearance on Monday's Boston Public was easily the most gratuitous guest spot in the history of guest spots. Verne Troyer played Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies, and his role here involved being a miniature genius who helped students cheat on their tests by hiding in a locker.
More fun news from the Geraldo Rivera front
"It sounds like some rats from my former network,...
- Friday, February 21, 2003:
I had my classes rock out to this dictation example yesterday (MP3, 455KB). Novelty value aside, it's an excellent example for demonstrating how useful audiation can be. It's also rife with scalar patterns and logical progressions. Both classes actually did pretty well with it, once the initial fear of so many leaps left them. My students are getting better with intervals too, although the most common mistake is to identify a major seventh as a tritone. Someone should do research on why this mistake happens so often. Alternately, Alex could tell me where it's already been done. The basketballers lost to Lucy Ho's, 24-107 last night. Nothing more can be said. Teenager traps internet...
- Thursday, February 13, 2003:
It's interesting to note how much aural recall can be affected by other sensory cues. I've been trying sharpen my cold pitch memory for kicks, by thinking about how a familiar song begins (on the way home from school, so there are no guides to cheat with). Invariably I'll get it completely wrong, right up until the instant that I load the MP3 or CD and am about to hit Play. As soon as I prep for that motion of pressing the button, I can anticipate and recognize the pitch that will result.
I've noticed this phenomenon with CDs that I play a lot as well (or mix CDs). If I've become used the song that follows the one just played, I can reconstruct it in my head, even if the CD is on random play. Some theorist should do a stud...
- Wednesday, February 05, 2003:
Practica Musica Sucks
Practica Musica is easily the most poorly-designed software I've ever used. In general, it seems that software designed by or for musicians tends to be unintuitive or slipshod (consider early versions of Finale), but here it's especially unacceptable since the program is billed as educational software. PM's interface actually interferes with the learning process and more often than not it prevents students from translating what they want to answer into an expected canned response. Even on the instructors' end, the class report scheme (coupled with a Quit menu option than seems to mean different things at different times) makes more work than it should.
We used MacGamut when I was an undergrad, and while it may not...
- Tuesday, January 21, 2003:
If you use Listen and Sing in your sightsinging class, you should know that the Beethoven's monopoly ran out of books again, and don't plan on making another immediate order this semester. This is after they decided not to order any at all at the beginning of the term, and after I contacted them and specifically told them how many students would be in need of it. I'm all for helping the local businessmen, but if you're going to exercise a monopoly on textbooks and use unfair trade practices against other bookstores in town, you've got to be prepared to actually serve the customer and offer some incentive for repeat business. I finally told all my students who got screwed a second time to cancel their orders and orde...
- Tuesday, January 07, 2003:
I took a trip through Cawthon, the musicians' country club, yesterday and it's amazing how much money they put into the place. The building is a combination of dorm rooms, classrooms, and practice rooms, so incoming music majors can focus on music with fewer distractions. Beyond card-locked doors, across hardwood floors, and through a piano lounge nearly the size of Monaco, is a classroom with every technology known to man. With video and audio solutions and both a PC and a Mac, this classroom could probably teach by itself. There's even a document scanner that you can use to display your hand and other useful body parts on the overheard projector in real-time.
Of course, my other section is in a giant rehearsal room that ...
- Friday, August 30, 2002:
There's only one downside to teaching, and that's chalk dust. It gets on your hands and arms, in your hair, and on your pants. If you're short like me and look up at the blackboard, you get a fine layer on your glasses too. In high school, we used to have a calculus teacher, Lou Kokonis, who was perpetually coated in chalk dust. He was so involved in his mathematical knowledge that he never even took the time to clean his glasses, and I'm sure his view of the world was like the snowy static of an old TV with rabbit-ears.
I've updated the work in progress. I can't figure out whether a crescendoed sustained note falling into a faster tempo is too trite or not.
I recently started making MP3s of my remixed R...
- Wednesday, April 17, 2002:
Now that assistantships have been publicized, I can share some details about what I'll be doing next year. Dr. Mathes gave me a vague outline on April 1, but I didn't get a chance to meet with the professor until just yesterday. Next year, I'll be working with Dr. Spencer to teach MUT 1001, a fundamentals class for freshman who didn't do so well on entrance exams. He will lecture on Mondays, and I'll follow up, proctor drills, and answer questions on Wednesday and Friday. The experimental class is part of a renovation package for KMU-206; apparently that room is getting outfitted with computers or something.
Because so much of learning fundamentals is just drilling, the materials will be made available online for students ...
- Wednesday, January 30, 2002:
One of my pet peeves is instructors who use the piano to play examples but don't have the proficiency to do it without numerous repeats and mistakes. If the purpose of playing an example is to allow your students to assimilate music through a different sense other than sight, you're doing them no service by giving them a haphazard or improvised performance. Instructors who don't have the ability to play on sight (which there's nothing wrong with at all) should either use recordings, throw up a MIDI, or even practice before class.
I remember a theory instructor from my pre-college years who assigned a short composition to the class. When everyone finished their diatonic wonders the following week, they brought them in, anxi...
- Thursday, January 24, 2002:
My copy of Finale finally arrived yesterday, and it even came with a free designer-blue glass. I presume that if I drink out of it while composing, my work will be of a higher caliber. I spent yesterday afternoon printing out the user manual in its entirety. It will take about nine hundred pages (front and back) and a good deal of toner, but should be a great reference source for the future (as well as a much easier read for me). If anyone ever wants to borrow the hard-copy, just let me know.
Peril's Gate and the calendar arrived on schedule as well. I bought a cat-themed calendar because there was nothing else sufficiently manly or artsy enough to order.
There's something intoxicating about...
- Monday, January 21, 2002:
There's no classes today, so I'll probably spend some time catching up on my composing, which slipped a little in productivity this week. This is actually the only federal holiday FSU allocates this semester, so I may as well enjoy it while I can.
This three article series that we had to read for pedagogy is a ridiculous waste of pontification. The original article, which I read on Saturday, was a rational comparision of three solmization systems: one fixed syllable and two movable syllable. By the end of his supposedly unbiased comparison, he was obviously advocating the movable systems over the fixed systems, with one system getting more adulation than the other.
The next article was jointly written by two ad...
- Wednesday, January 16, 2002:
To me, Pedagogy class is a disorganized collection of tangents and anecdotal evidence. We seem to dwell too much on reviewing topics from previous classes, and this whole week has been given over to a couple theoretical articles that deserve about half a class each. We talk about the problems of the information-retrieval method of teaching, and then learn a continuing parade of specific tidbits and examples, as if by that same system. I think it may just be that the teaching approach used in the class doesn't mesh well with my learning approach. I like to see the overarching point of a lecture, or at least know that supportive evidence will eventually be tied together in a complete package. Last semester's course was taught in that ma...
- Wednesday, November 28, 2001:
Yesterday and today were beautiful days -- sunny, high seventies, and low humidity. It's a bit perverse to be wearing shorts at the end of November, but I could definitely get used to it.
We managed to secure a block of ten tickets for the Gator Bowl so it looks like I'll be spending New Year's in Florida. My vacation's turning out to be much busier than I expected it would be. After driving back to Virginia on the 12th, I'll spend a few days here and there before taking a road trip to Westminster College in New Jersey and New England Conservatory in Boston. A friend of mine is looking into vocal pedagogy graduate programs, and we figured now was as good a time as ever to start visiting. Following that trip, I'll have abou...
- Saturday, September 08, 2001:
I'm in that antsy first stage of composing where nothing's written down yet and I'm still improvising at the keyboard in hopes of finding the next worthwhile hook to develop. This phase can be as short as a day, but in extreme cases, I've been stuck here for weeks at a time. My next project will be something for string quartet, since Dr. Wingate and I both agreed that my portfolio is just a wee bit brass-heavy right now.
I'm enjoying Modal Counterpoint more now that we're doing practical hands-on application stuff rather than lectures. Pedagogy of Music Theory is the most interesting; he keeps the class enthralled by using pointed comments to corral us towards the crux of his lectures. This approach keeps me thinking throu...