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Thomas J. West Music

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Music Education

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  • Ben Cameron On The New Performing Arts R...
    by ★ Owner on September 10, 2010 at 9:46 PM
    2158 Views - 0 Comments

    Once again, another fantastic talk has become available from - this time, the speaker is Ben Cameron, Program Director, Arts, at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York, where he supervises a $13 million grants program aimed at the theatre, contemporary dance, jazz and presenting fields. In this video, Cameron discusses how the explosion in digital and internet technologies has threatened the performing arts industry and yet has set the stage for a new cultural revolution. Cameron compares today's arts revolution to the religious revolution of the 16th century. They share many points in common: the religious revolution was a product of a sudden increase in technology in the form of the printing press; the religious revolution made information available to the masses rather than controlled by an institution; the religious revolution did not result in the end of institutional religions, but their role had to change. In much the same way, we are experiencing a cultural revolution in the performing arts. Digital technology has made it possible for anyone to become an author, a music composer, a choreographer, a movie director. The internet has made it possible for anyone to distribute their artistic creations to an international audience. Cameron quoted others saying "The means of artistic production and distribution have been democratized for the first time in history... Who doesn't know a fourteen-year-old who is hard at work on her second or third movie?" Cameron states quite accurately, in my opinion, that our culture is shifting from being arts consumers to being arts participants. He mentioned a phrase I had not heard before - this cultural shift is bringing us "Pro-Am's" (Professional Amateurs). Cameron sees the traditional performing arts institutions in desperate need of making the shift to becoming what he calls hybrid artists: people or institutions who create art for civic change. "...making art together to bind a community of disparate citizens to social change." This, in my experience, is spot on. Music education is in the same boat - if we as a profession do not find ways to connect to the entire student body and provide ways for students to create and perform music they can relate to, we are performing ourselves right out of a job. Some other great quotes from this talk: "To conspire literally means to breathe together." "The arts invite us to look at our fellow human being with generosity and curiosity." "We are bound together by commmon cause, to promote a more thoughtful, substantive, empathic world order." Take about fifteen minutes to listen to this dynamic speaker.

  • Why Online Education Is Inevitable
    by ★ Owner on August 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM
    1939 Views - 0 Comments

    I teach in a unique hybrid arts program attached to a K-12 Cyber Charter school. I see the majority of my students in person twice a week, and they take the rest of their coursework at home online the other three days of the week. This is a growing trend that, from my personal experience with it, will eventually be going international. This video does a pretty good job of explaining why. I am very excited to be a part of the shift that is bringing education into the 21st century.

  • Part 2 - Managing the Information Stream...
    by ★ Owner on July 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM
    2198 Views - 0 Comments

    Part 2 of Managing the Information Stream on the Music Professional Learning Network. Please note: this video is best viewed in fullscreen mode. See part 1 here:

  • Managing the Information Stream on the M...
    by ★ Owner on July 30, 2010 at 2:46 PM
    2369 Views - 0 Comments

    Managing the information stream on the Music Professional Learning Network website. VIEW THE VIDEO IN FULL SCREEN for best viewing. View part 2 of this walkthrough here:

  • Welcome to My PLE!
    by ★ Owner on June 5, 2010 at 12:52 PM
    2068 Views - 1 Comment

    A 7th grade student gives a tour of her personal learning environment. This project was conducted as part of dissertation research implementing the use of networked learning and construction of personal learning environments in a 7th grade life science class. Welcome to the future, folks! Who needs a backpack anymore?

  • An Open Letter to Educators
    by ★ Owner on April 29, 2010 at 6:48 AM
    2187 Views - 0 Comments

    Dan Brown is a former college student who, disgusted with the waste of time of the "cattle call" lecture classes he was sitting through, dropped out of school and pursued his own education online. His message is timely and very necessary. I agree with most of what he has to say, except for two things: 1. Higher Education is not the "end all be all" of informational power, even in the traditional institutional education system. 2. Public Education IS reinventing itself to match the rest of the world - painfully slowly. The question really becomes: will public education change in time? As more and more informational offerings become available through internet sources and civic groups that specialize in one particular kind of information (magnet schools, sport centers, etc.), public education is going to be stripped down to core the core curricula of math and language arts only, without the enriching subjects like the arts and physical sciences. Students will spend part of their week in core classes online and spend the rest delving into focus areas they are passionate about. Share this video with a teacher you know.

  • Giant Steps Transcription
    by ★ Owner on January 8, 2010 at 11:59 PM
    3540 Views - 0 Comments

    Here is the transcription of John Coltrane's legendary recording of "Giant Steps". I always tell my students that this tune has a different chord for every note of the melody - now I have this great video to demonstrate exactly that. It also demonstrates the virtuosity and creative genius that was John Coltrane.

  • Dalton Sherman Keynote Speaker - Dallas...
    by ★ Owner on August 29, 2009 at 8:00 AM
    2928 Views - 0 Comments

    If you teach anything at all to anyone in a public school, you will be inspired by this video.

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