I am very happy to announce, that I have now completed my Master of Music Education degree at Northwestern University. It has been a life-changing experience working with and learning from my talented and musical colleagues and professors. What a wonderful program it has been.
A highlight for me this summer was having the opportunity to play a concerto with the Summer Orchestra. It was such a privilege and a wonderful experience. I played the Concertino in D Major by Cecile Chaminade. I enjoyed the performance and it went beautifully, thanks to the support of my fellow musicians. And especially, to my friend and conducting professor, Dr Bob Hasty. He is a brilliant conductor who has the knack of bringing out the best in us all, yet remaining calm and friendly throughout the whole process of rehearsal and performance.
A sincere thanks to all of my brilliant professors: Dr Janet Barrett, Dr Maud Hickey, Dr Robert Hasty, Dr James Kjelland, Dr Susan Piagentini, Dr Peter Webster, Dr Laura Sindberg, Dr Carlos Abril.
I have just returned from my second summer session at Northwestern University, Chicago. I am studying for my Master’s Degree in Music Education. What a wonderful experience – exhausting, stimulating, satisfying. I love working there with my wonderful classmates, Jen, Krista, Leo, Phaedra, Amy, Samantha, Jim, and Matt. We have a terrific camaraderie and this was a particularly difficult session for us, studying two of the most intellectually demanding courses, Philosophy and Research. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief last Friday, when we were able to finally close our computers after an intense, sleepless six-weeks of thinking! The theme of the summer, was summed up in the words of our professor Dr Carlos Abril:
“Thinking is hard”
Yes, thinking has been hard, but very worthwhile and rewarding. To all my classmates and fellow Summer Masters students, congratulations!
Here is my Philosophy Class with Bennett Reimer – the illustrious philosopher who visited us at Northwestern.
See below if you would like to read my final paper in Philosophy. (Best if you click on ‘full screen’ in the bottom right hand corner).
My goal for this year, is to work hard with my own students and colleagues at BISS and to embrace this philosophy as well as I can!
I am well into my course now – week three. The 4-Summers Master of Music Education program at Northwestern University is a wonderful opportunity for me to formally take on the role of student again. As we always declare ourselves ‘lifelong learners’ in the International Baccalaureate program, this has been a test of my commitment to that mantra. I am happy to report that I am having a great time and learning heaps! The lecturers here are dynamic and very knowledgeable, experts in their fields. And my classmates are all highly motivated and experienced professional music educators. I am learning so much from networking with my colleagues as well as the formal lectures and assessment tasks.
The social life amongst the students, is very ‘energetic’ to say the least. A ‘quick drink’ after ensemble rehearsal often ends in a 2:30am finish at Nevin’s, the local watering hole here in Evanston. Although I have been feeling ‘young at heart’ working with my much-younger colleagues, I must admit to ‘bailing out’ early a few times during the past week. Discretion the better part of valor!
We have six weeks each summer (four times) to cram in as much learning as possible. We are expected to take three course subjects each time and play or sing in a Summer Ensemble. My courses this time are: ‘Advanced Conducting: Before the Downbeat’; ‘Music Theory Review’; and ‘Music Technology’. I am also playing piccolo in the Concert Band.
I have been learning new skills and new ways to look at things (the most interesting aspect, I feel) in all of my subjects. Particularly, I have been impressed with my theory lecturer, Dr Susan Piagentini. She has a powerful knowledge and passion for the subject and teachers us in such a well-organised and thoughtful manner. Each day, we are set homework assignments which she returns immediately at the following class with excellent feedback. She monitors each student’s progress in a non-judgmental way and is the model of a good teacher. I have learnt new theory techniques and can feel my skills improving under her guidance. This will directly benefit my students, I am certain. Wonderful!
The conducting course too is great. Directed by Dr Robert (Bob) Hasty, my friend who conducted the wonderful Mozart Jupiter performance in the Forbidden City Concert Hall (see previous post) in Beijing earlier this year. His expertise in analysing scores (before the downbeat) has been enlightening. I will take a second course in a future summer to deal with the craft of conducting ‘after’ the downbeat. I have found it useful doing the two ‘analysis’ courses in tandem, as the skills studied in both are interchangeable. Both of these lecturers have opened my eyes to a more linear approach to music analysis. I have enjoyed refining my skills of looking for melodic ‘key markers’ and making informed judgements about phrasing, harmony and rhythm.
My third course is a compulsory component in the program, Music Technology. As my readers and colleagues will be aware, I am a lover of technology and particularly its use in music education. To be quite honest, I have been finding the learning tasks very easy in this course. I do see the value of ensuring that all graduates have the skills to confidently use available technology in their classrooms, but thanks to my work at BISS, I really am ahead of the game. We have a wonderful, dynamic and enthusiastic lecturer, Dr Maud Hickey. She has guided us patiently in our learning tasks, such as website publishing on the Northwestern University server. I am very pleased that I have had the chance to learn more about HTML code and video and audio streaming. I spent a few late nights tinkering with these skills. Having previously relied on WordPress templates for my web publishing (this blog), it has been a great chance to discover a few ‘tricks’ for designing and publishing my own pages. Check out my video page designed using iWeb and hosted on my own domain! Also, have a look at my Northwestern homepage designed using HTML and SeaMonkey. Follow the links to see some of the assignments we have done, including streaming audio and audio editing. As I said earlier, I feel have not been stretched with this course, but I have had the chance to refine and share my skills. Another valuable experience from my studies here at Northwestern and a good reflection of our successful use of technology at BISS.
The higher-years students have been warning us not to expect much ‘social’ time in our second year. We are expected to complete the two other compulsory components of the program, Philosophy and Curriculum concurrently in that six week block. This is apparently an onerous task. Well, at least we will have a year of teaching at our respective schools to get our minds ready for the challenge! I might even try to get a head-start on the reading before then.