Posted in Challenge, Funny Friday

Difficult Times

I was given this shirt by my church choir for Christmas of 2019. While it’s funny and ironic, it actually was quite prescient, because in March of 2020, the times did really get difficult.

If you’re not a musician, the top number tells you how many counts are in each measure. Normally that is 2, 3, 4, sometimes 6. Easy and straightforward to count, and (in the case of six) easy to subdivide and feel as smaller counts. The bottom number tells you what not gets counted as the beat. 4 on the bottom is the quarter note, 8 on the bottom is the eighth note, 2 on the bottom is the half note. 4/4 is called common time, because it’s the time that is commonly used in music!

But these difficult times…well, 6/4 isn’t too difficult. You can count it in 6 or 2 big beats of 3. 9/8 means that there’s 9 beats per measure, an eighth note gets the beat. You can count to 9, or 3 big beats of 3. 11/16…..well that’s just silly. A sixteenth note gets the beat (so that’s fast!) and 11? That’s not fun at all.

In my handbell choir this past week, we actually played a rhythm that was in 10/8 time. That was fun. We counted in 4 beats because the eighth note needed to be steady. So it was 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1 &, 2 &. It was a fun challenge!

This is the fun of learning music theory. If you don’t know it, this shirt probably doesn’t make much sense. If you do know it, it’s a hilarious inside joke. I love learning music theory and challenging myself to grow as a musician, even after all of my years of making music and studying music. There’s always something that you can learn!

Posted in Challenge, Different styles, Music literacy

Enter Sandman

I came across this video and was amazing. Larnell Lewis is a drummer who plays with the jazz band Snarky Puppy, one of my favorite jazz groups! The whole point of the video is that he listens to the song once, and tries to drum along with it. Watch and see what happens.

I tell students this all the time. While your eyes, hands and feet are helpful for music making, hearing is essential. You noticed (and it was pointed out on the video) that for about half of the song, he was just listening and noting, not trying to play along. Then near the end, he was doing a little bit of “air drumming”

But it was what he did after he listened that was the most important. He walked back through the song. No matter what style, music can be broken down into sections. And that’s exactly what he walked through. And he kept up really well!

Of course, he’s a drummer with years of experience and practice. For me, I’ve never really challenged myself to do something like this on piano or organ. I’ve done it from time to time on the trumpet, trying to pick out melodies and play along, but never really an entire song.

Honestly, for musicians, this is a huge challenge, and I totally love that he took it on. Especially a song that he had never heard of at all. I loved what he said at the about challenging yourself to try different styles. It does make you a better musician overall and definitely stretches your boundaries. You may not find something that you like, but you have a deeper appreciation.

The Harmanny Music Education Podcast will be coming soon! Stay tuned!