Friday, May 30, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Fast Notes

A beginner was looking at the last page of his method book--which is all 16th notes--and commenting on how fast the notes were...

KID: Is there anything faster than a 16th note?
ME: Sure--there are 32nd notes, with three beams, and even 64th notes, with four beams.
KID: Whoa...
ME: Here--let me play you something with 32nd notes in it, which was actually played by 7th and 8th graders a few years ago.
KID (after hearing passage): That was so fast, I thought it was a flute!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Scales

I was calling out the various keys to a middle-schooler when levity broke out...

ME: And one more scale: B-flat.
KID: (moves as if he's going to lie down on the floor)
ME: You're trying to "be flat"?
KID (grinning): That's right.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Playing

When playing the C# scale for me for the first time, a seventh grader ran into some problems. Eventually, he stopped playing and said the following: "I know how to play's just that when I play it, it doesn't want to play right, because of... (makes circling motion near head with hand) my face."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nephews Say the Darnedest Things, Part 2

During my recent trip to Austin, I was watching a Rangers game on TV with my youngest nephew, who has recently started playing Little League himself. When Rangers manager Ron Washington went out to change pitchers, the name on the back of his jersey was quite visible...

NEPHEW: His last name is Washington?
ME: That's right.
NEPHEW: He must be George Washington's son.

(I reminded him that George lived in the 1700s and Ron was in his early 60s, so they probably couldn't be father and son.)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nephews Say the Darnedest Things

My oldest one posed an interesting question at dessert time last night...

NEPHEW: Which would you rather have--ice cream with wasabi sauce, or chili with orange juice?
SISTER: How much orange juice?

Feel free to comment with your own answer...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instructors

One of my beginners placed in the top band at school for next year, so of course, I offered congratulations...

KID: How did you know I got in Honors Band?
ME: They gave me a piece of paper saying so.
(brief pause) I was going to say "Because I'm smart like that," but I didn't know if you'd believe me.
KID: I don't think I would.
ME: Wow. No money *and* insults. I see how this is...

(Regarding the "no money" part: This was a kid who also forgot to pay me for the third week in a row. This weeks's excuse: "My parents are distracted.")

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About New Key Signatues

As noted earlier, this is the time of year when the seventh graders are learning the remaining five scales that they didn't have to prepare for All-District auditions. One of them did particularly well on the F# major scale, so it was time to move ahead...

ME: That was very good! So as your "reward," I'll give you something even more challenging to work on--the C# scale.
KID: Yaaaaay!
(after slight pause) Oh wait, that's not really exciting, is it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instruments

When deciding on a specific étude to pass out to a bari player, I had to check and see whether or not the horn had a specific key that's not yet standard on all baris...

ME: Let's see--your horn has a high F# key, right?
KID: Yup.
ME: Do you know how it works to make a high F#?
KID: You just push it down?

(I suppose he was technically correct here, but I was of course looking for a specific fingering combination...)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things When Contemplating Switching Saxophones

I hadn't heard it in a few years, but I was discussing this very thing with some friends just a few days ago, and now it's happened again...

KID: I really want to play the tenor next year.
ME: That could be fun.
KID: But would you still be my teacher if I did that?
ME: Absolutely. There's not a separate tenor sax teacher or anything...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Unfamiliar Key Signatures

While teaching the circle of fifths to a high-schooler, we eventually encountered the most dreaded key for saxophonists: C-flat major.

ME: That's right, C-flat, with all seven flats
KiD: I don't even know what that sounds like...

(I reminded him that yes, he does--it sounds exactly like the B scale. To drive the point home in a most sarcastic way, I played him the same scale twice in a row, calling by a different name each time.)

Jazz Education Quote of the Week

From the Thelonious Monk Institute:

"A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves." - Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Unfamiliar Notes

I was teaching a beginner the Bb scale, and the newest flat in that key was new to the kid...

ME: How do you finger Eb?
KID: (blank look)
ME: (demonstrates) What is this fingering?
KID: That's D#.
ME: And D# is the same as...?
KID: D#.
ME: Which is also known as...?
KID: D#.
ME: Which is also known as...?
KID: Pass.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Kids Write the Darnedest Things On Their Music

One of my high-schoolers had something very unusual in the margin of his music: "WWMMS." I asked what that meant, and was amused at the answer--"What Would Mr. M. Say?" Evidently, writing that down reminded the kid of some things that I told him about that portion of the music.

(WWMMS bracelets available soon. Order yours today!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Star Wars References

This is pretty much a sequel to last Friday's KSTDT: A different kid, but the same school, same forgotten audition étude, and same response from me...

KID: So yeah, about my's kind of at home.
ME: So you couldn't try to levitate it here by using the Force?
KID: I tried; it didn't respond.
ME: The Force was out of order?
KID: I guess so.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Kids (and Teachers) Say the Darnedest Things When Kids Offer Semi-Lame Excuses for Missing Their Teachers' Gigs

I obviously invited all of my students (except the seniors at one school, who had prom that night) to hear the big band I record with when we made a rare live local appearance on Saturday, but only a few came. This morning, one of them told me why he couldn't make it...

KID: Sorry I missed your concert the other day. I was gonna go, but then my friend came over and he didn't want to go.
ME: Well, you obviously need to get better friends.
KID: He's a vocalist; what can I say?

Friday, May 02, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Star Wars References

This one started with a kid walking into a lesson with no music whatsoever (and me initially freaking him out by challenging him to play his audition étude from memory...)

ME: So did you lose your music, or leave it at home?
KID: I left it at my house.
ME: So you can't levitate it here from your house by using the Force or something?
KID: I wouldn't be here if I could use the Force.
ME: You wouldn't need education, just Jedi training?
KID: That's right.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Accidentals

I was introducing the E# to a seventh grader for the first time (as part of the F# major scale), and he was confused at first as to what it might be...

ME: Let's look at it this way: What does a sharp do when you add it to a note? And I want a more detailed answer than "it makes it sharper."
KID: It raises it half an octave!

(Could you imagine what music would sound like if a sharp really did shoot the note up a tritone?)