Monday, January 11, 2010

New Semester, New Course!

Here we go again! The composition course this semester is Music 4100, "Advanced Composition" (at Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Music). Please visit this site regularly to read and comment on entries relating to music composition. This blog is open to anyone; most of the comments tend to be by students in my courses, but anyone who wishes to comment is free to do so.

Many of the people visiting this blog are not current or former students — when I checked the "Site meter" at the bottom of this page a few minutes ago, it showed recent visitors from Japan, Singapore, Germany, California, Ottawa, and New Brunswick — so be aware that any comments you make can be read by a fairly large and diverse audience.

A list of student blogs is on the right column of this page; if you are in the course and your blog isn't listed, please let me know your blog's URL and I will add it.

Typically, almost all comments are made by class members for one very simple reason: Class members are required to comment on a certain number per semester. That's right; I am an ogre! I compel students to comment on the class blog by means of marks incentives.

Is this fair? Is it right? Is it good pedagogy? Well, I think so (obviously), but (polite) comments from those who feel otherwise are always welcome. I would be happy to hear thoughts on the idea of enforced blog participation as a course requirement, whether you agree with it or not. I believe discussion can be a healthy and helpful thing, and my objective is to find ways of engendering it.

Enjoy, and may you always find the right notes!


Jessica Blenis said...

Go NB! Heh. Not biased at all...

I think it's a good idea to make us comment on blogs, and to write them on our own. I find it pretty handy to have somewhere to chuck my thoughts before/while/after writing a piece so I can keep track of them. For me, though, these thoughts come in left, right and centre so writing them down helps me to realize and elaborate on them. And sort out the good ideas from the ones which are just plain absurd. And because I like to ramble a lot- to the point where I do so to avoid doing other homework- writing a blog seems like good fun to me.

Robbie B and the Doubtful D's said...

I am compelled by your ogre abilities to write this comment!

Robbie B and the Doubtful D's said...

But really though, definitely a good thing to have the blogs. It's something that you can write down an idea whenever you have one. Also for the people that don't like to talk in class, or just don't get a chance to. At least they have time to construct what they're going to say instead of unintentionally insulting someone else's work.

Steve said...

blogging is a great idea. having to write down my thoughts about my works-in-progress is very beneficial, and when it's there to be seen by others, I will naturally put more effort into it and thus gain more from it.
we are also a generation that communicates via e-mails and text messaging constantly, and whether that's a good thing or not, I'm much better at organizing my thoughts into a coherent statement sitting at a computer than I am actually speaking to someone... I should probably work on that, though.

Adam said...

Required blog writing not only serves as a way of organizing our thoughts, but also teaches us that composing music is much more than just writing notes.

Its great to be able to look back after your piece is done and literally read what you were thinking a few weeks back when you decided to make a major change or when you just thought of an idea for a new piece, not knowing where it would take you.

Kate Bevan-Baker said...

I think that because blogging is required, some people automatically assume negative things because it's a "forced" thing. I think that it's very beneficial to post our thoughts on our own work as well as others', especially for those who don't speak up in class all the time.

I myself find it much easier to organize my thoughts and express myself through writing rather than discussing things in class, although I enjoy talking in class as well.

Like homework is to children, "required blogging" can sound like a chore, but it really isn't, and I enjoy reading what others are thinking throughout the course.

Aiden Hartery said...

Like everyone has already said, I find that blogging is a great way to organize your thoughts and be able to write down your plan(s) and actually make lists and get stuff done! At the end of a composition you can look back and see if your ideas then match what the end product turned out to be. Or if they changed, if those changes were totally different from what you originally thought!

I can see how blogging becomes a chore though. I find that during the semester things just get piled up, and these blogs might not see as much sunlight as other, more weighted projects, become more important and pressing (I'm not saying these blogs aren't important though!)

Commenting on blogs on the composition website is also helpful! Reading about multiple topics on music and tips on composing can really spark some compositional inspiration and really get some gears moving.