Multiple Plucking Patterns-Final Musical Growth

The fifth song that I chose to learn this semester is Here Comes the Sun. When I originally picked this piece I did not pick it for the music, I simply enjoy the song. I thought it would fun to know how to play and that my friends and I could all sing it this summer around a campfire. As I started to look over the music for it, however, I realized it is actually a very intricate song! Not only was there a new chord that I would be learning, but the piece also contains three different plucking patterns as well as a strumming pattern. It was the hardest song I have tried to learn how to play. 

I worked at it bit by bit every single day. I found that if I started by only learning chunks at a time I would put a lot less pressure on myself. I began by playing through the song with the strumming pattern only. This helped me to get used to the chord transitions and playing the new chord of D. After this, I added in the first riff which comes right after the G chord in the first line. I do not know why this was as hard as it was, but I am not used to having to control my ring finger that much. It took a lot of practice and I still do not get it every time. After this, I learned the longest riff of the song. This required a lot more finger movement but I picked it up a lot quicker because it is mostly plucking. After that was the hardest one. I am still working on perfecting it because it is something that I have never tried before. The third riff is played while strumming, so I am not even sure if you can call it a riff. You strum down normally, but on every up you only pluck the one string. I can not play this one at full speed yet. I started learning it by just practicing playing the riff (without integrating the strumming). Once I was able to play that, I started doing it with the strumming.

I cannot sing and play this one yet, I have recently started trying to sing with it but have not successfully done so all the way through. Regardless, I am extremely proud of myself for learning what I set out to on my adapted plan. It took a lot of hard work and I am excited to play them for my friends. I have even been facetiming my parents to show them everything that I have learned. The way this semester is ending is definitely abnormal, but I am still excited that I got to go to school for the beginning of it. Moving forwards, I think it is important to remember that learning can be done in a lot of different settings. Just because a Student is not in class does not mean that they are not learning. Another thing for me to remember is that a student is never too old to want to show their parents what they have learned.

Tackling New Songs

In February I began being treated for Lyme disease. It was caught early enough that it should go away soon but made me extremely tired. I continued with my regular school and work days but found it to be very difficult to do extra tasks. I decided to cut down the number of songs that I had originally intended on learning because I did not want to push myself too hard. The song I chose to cut was titled, One Man Band and it was a song that I was really looking forward to playing. It is one of my favourite songs, however, it has a very difficult plucking pattern and contained a lot of new chords. I chose to cut this one for a couple of reasons, however, the main one is that I want to learn to play this song when I am in the right space mentally. It would no longer be fun for me if I was being pushed past my breaking point to be able to play it.

Throughout February I started to learn the song You Are My Sunshine. I was already familiar with the chords in the song so it was not too difficult. I chose to do a DDU DDU strumming pattern to add a bit of groove to the song. The song is quite slow so the hardest part about playing the song is not speeding up. Sometimes when I am playing it I get excited and start to play extremely fast, but when this happens it ruins the song! I learned that I have to tap my foot or my knee to try and keep the same tempo. This helps me to slow down but will sometimes throw me off my playing. It took a lot of practice to do both at once. 

I decided to sing along to this one because I feel like it ties the whole piece together. Even though my singing may not be perfect, it adds a bit more happiness to the song. I have played it a few times with my roommate and she and I had lots of fun singing along also! This song has helped me to remember how much fun playing the ukulele can be. It is one that I will remember for a long time and keep in my back pocket for when I am teaching! 

My experience with this over the past month has taught me some valuable lessons that I will bring with me into the classroom. Just because someone seems to be doing well on the outside does not mean that they are on the inside. It is important to remember that our students are doing the best they can and dealing with a lot. I found it hard to let go of some responsibilities, but in the end, it helped me grow.

Mid Term Progress

I’ve been putting off writing this because in my mind I always want my reflections to be positive. I want to showcase and document my learning with a couple of sprinkles of what I am still practicing. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh a lot of the positives this time, but I am still proud of what I have accomplished so far!

One thing that I am proud of so far is that I am able to slowly play my first three songs while properly holding my ukulele! I practiced for at least ten minutes a day five days a week and it is really helping. I have so much fun playing “Let it Be” because I don’t have to think too much when I play. I found that I have to be careful that I am not getting carried away with the fun and speeding up halfway through. 

“Hallelujah” was the hardest song for me to learn so far because of the plucking pattern. I can’t quite do it without thinking yet, sometimes I think that I can but then my fingers get really jumbled up and do not know what they are supposed to be plucking.  I have found that the hardest part of this song, for me, is transitioning to and from the E minor chord. I think it is because of the way I am holding my ukulele. I am not squeezing it hard enough with my right arm which means that my left hand has some support (so when I go to move my left hand to transition between chords it just drops). There were a lot of times where I just dropped my ukulele mid-song because it slipped during the transition. I have been practicing singing along to the song as well but find that I make a lot more mistakes with my playing when I do this. This is the reason that I am not singing in the video.

I was really excited to play “Fix You” because its one of my favourite songs. It would usually have to be played using a capo but because I do not have one it sounds really off. I find it really difficult to sing along to it in this key. I also think it would sound a lot more similar to the song if I had used a plucking pattern, but could not find one online. I am able to play the song to a level that I am proud of, but do not have a lot of fun playing it.

I am going to keep working on getting comfortable holding my ukulele, doing the chord transitions, and even more new plucking patterns. For the next songs that I have set off to learn there are new chords that I will have to learn. I am definitely getting nervous that I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I know that I am doing my best and that is the best that I can do. Hopefully, if I keep on with my regular practice schedule I will be able to at least achieve some of my goals!

Progress Videos

Getting Started

For my passion project last year I decided to learn the ukulele. I went into this passion project this term pretty confident that I would be able to learn six new songs because I was under the impression that I already knew the basics. That thought was short-lived. On the first day that we ukulele in class, I learned that I do not hold my ukulele properly. When I played I would always rest the instrument gently on my leg, this helped me to keep my wrists loose when I was strumming and transitioning between chords. I have found that with the new way we’re supposed to hold it, hugging it against my chest, the chords that I mastered last year are now more difficult than before. This new holding position is extremely discouraging because I can barely even strum a C chord. 

I have spent the past two to three weeks practicing scales and riptide in the new holding position. I have yet to start my new songs because I have found it difficult to think about holding and playing at the same time. Yesterday I was able to successfully hold my ukulele and play riptide for the first time! It felt really good to be able to do this but it is now time to learn my new songs. I am extremely nervous to try new strumming patterns and finger plucking patterns. I’ve decided to start with the three songs that have chords I already know. I think this will help me to focus on what my right hand is doing and holding the ukulele without having to have a huge worry about my left hand’s finger placement. 

There is a lot let to do and I am really worried about the goals that I have set. Hopefully, now that I have mostly figured out how to hold my ukulele I will progress at a quicker pace. I am really excited to start trying songs that I have not played yet and can sing along to.

Music Learning Reflection

Question 9, 10, 11:

These past few months have taught me a lot about myself as both a music teacher and learner. Beginning the course I had no idea what I would do if I was given a placement where I would have to teach music. While right now I definitely cannot say that I would be completely confident as a music teacher, I can say that I now know where to find the resources I would need to plan a unit and how to use these tools to help my future students learn.

I think my greatest strength as an educator who will teach music is my humility. I will admit that I am far from perfect and that music is not the subject that I would lead with, however, I am always open to suggestions and help from both students and fellow teachers. I will always do my best to use cross-curricular influences to guide me through what I will be teaching in music lessons, and will always appreciate student feedback and take it to heart. By doing this I am allowing myself to become a lifelong music learner who is passionate to never stop asking questions. I may not be the most musically inclined, but I am a hard worker when it comes to learning subjects that I at first do not understand.

When I think of myself as a future educator teaching music I think of a lot of fun and silliness. I think that music is a great outlet for many students to become more vocal and active during their school day: you will rarely see my music class sitting down at desks. There are definitely creative ways to teach students musical basics that involve the movement of the whole body. Having another class sitting down is not what students need in their daily schedules and music is the perfect opportunity to create activities which engage the mind and the body while still promoting learning. An example of this would be jumping once for a “ta” and twice for a “ti-ti” when going through the lyrics of a song. This is a simple change but will allow my students to be engaged while also burning off energy which has built up throughout the day. I hope to get to know my student’s needs and interests in order to create lesson plans and find songs that would interest them, thus creating an environment which is perfect to facilitate their learning.

My greatest area of growth during the course has been in the realm of different ways to demonstrate sounds found in pictures. This is a very specific topic that we covered in the course, but, other than my ukulele, it is where I saw the most personal growth. Interpreting a picture in sounds could involve body percussion, mouth percussion, instruments, or tools around the room. We did a few days on this in class where we were shown pictures and told to create the sounds which we believed would be heard if we were placed inside. At first I was very uncomfortable with this concept and had no clue what was being asked of us. Everyone started making sounds and I felt lost! After a few more activities I started to love putting myself into images and seeing what different sounds I could come up with, now find myself doing this while reading books to myself. This is a fun way to demonstrate music vocabulary for students, my group even tried to incorporate it into our lesson plan we presented to the class!

I was very uncomfortable throughout our first few music classes as I had no idea what was expected of me or what I was supposed to learn. I am just now realizing that while, for the most part, it did not feel like I was learning at all, those were the moments where I was learning the most. I now have a large variety of songs that I can sing with many grades, I understand how to incorporate music into different subjects like math and science, I know how to make lesson plans, music terminology, and I know where to ask for help (because most likely I will still need it).

Rain Unit Reflection

This week in EDCI306 we were prompt with a rain chant and asked to write a lesson plan around it in groups of six. My group and I were immediately inspired by the concept of rain and weather and began to make a bunch of cross curricular activities! We had so many ideas varying directions we could take for one lesson that, instead, we decided to create an entire unit plan. We went onto the BC curriculum website* and got to work. Of course with the new curriculum being inquiry based we had to leave major concepts fairly broad, this would allow students to expand on concepts which interested them and leave other behind while still learning the “Big Ideas” outlined in the curriculum. We informally presented our unit plan to the rest of the cohort and everyone seemed to be very inspired by the ideas which we had began to explore. Below is a list of some rain based activities to do in an elementary school classroom!

  • reading “the Itsy Bitsy spider” story book
  • singing “the Itsy Bitsy spider” and doing the actions
  • estimating and measuring rainfall (either daily or weekly)
  • making a rainstick
  • making a tornado in a jar (this is also a very good and inexpensive tool to help students relieve stress)
  • learning about weather patterns
  • what makes rain/ the water cycle
  • making “your own” representation of the water cycle (this allows students to explore varying ways to present one topic, it could be a poster, diorama, video, tableau, play, song, etc)
  • making a rain dance in groups
  • rain chant

For my first practicum my teaching partner and I were placed at a local elementary school here in SD63! We were pretty excited when we found out that not only would we be teaching core French, but we also get the opportunity to teach to grades 2-5. This experience means that we get to practice teaching a new language and making lesson planning for multiple grades. What’s an amazing way to learn new languages you ask? Well, music of course! I’m not sure what direction to take with music yet, whether we should have students learn songs about the lesson theme while we are there, research french artists, or even writing their own small songs with vocabulary from the unit. If anyone has any ideas please message me and let me know!