Missed an entry last week, because there wasn't much to report. My students paired up and did presentations on the musical selections of the Messiah. I was really happy, for the most part, with what they came up with: most of them gave really nice overviews of their assigned pieces. It was nice seeing what they gravitated towards: some dug into the text, even looking up the original Bible verses and figuring out what Handel had omitted or altered (which I'd never noticed before, and is in some cases very interesting!) A few presentations went a bit too long, and wandered a bit, but they were mostly very solid. I think the students enjoyed hearing some from their peers, with a minimum of direction from me.
I was happy with the way I set things up for the presentations, as well. I asked any students who wanted to use Powerpoint slides to send them to me the night before, along with the timings of any examples they'd like to play (based on the 'official' class recordings). I compiled the slides into one presentation, and queued up the examples beforehand. This helped transitions go very smoothly, with no worrying about changing between Macs and PCs, setting screen resolutions, etc. I'll definitely do that with student presentations in the future.
I liked how participatory the last class was, but I wasn't quite happy that the presentations ended up taking literally the entire time. There was very little opportunity for questions, checking up on how the class is going, etc.
Today, the plan is a bit more traditional. We're going to start with another 'writing about music' exercise, this one built around editing a paragraph. The TF manual has a great old example called "The Paragraph That Walked in Darkness," a piece of musical writing that has a lot of problems. I'm going to give them some time to read it and mark it up, and then we'll annotate as a class.
Next, I'm planning to play a clip from a production called "The Young Messiah" (check it out in its glorious 80s-ness here) as a way of jump-starting the conversation about authentic performance, vs. modern approaches. Again, the goal is to get them talking and thinking with each other, with less intervention from me.
Finally, I'm using another recorded example: PDQ Bach's "New Horizons in Music Appreciation," his famous recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, with a baseball game commentary on the form as it unfolds. They began learning about Beethoven's 9th in lecture today, and this seems like a fun way to continue the conversation about form. I've got a handout to match.