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2017 TMEA Clinic

Thanks for checking out my clinic at TMEA 2017!

If you didn’t get a handout, you can download it here:


You can download several of the resources that I discussed here:

Some other useful links:

Austin Guitar Society curriculum

Essential Elements Guitar Ensembles

Get in touch with me at

Music From The Inside Out

Sub plans are challenging for music class. How do I keep several different classes, including performing ensembles, theory, and appreciation, engaged for 85 minutes with a sub who may or may not know anything about music? It’s hard enough when I can plan ahead, but what lesson can I leave as an emergency “Mr. D woke up with the flu” plan?

Check out a video called Music From the Inside Out, which follows a group of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra and discusses several aspects of music and professional music-making. Total runtime is 90 minutes. The class can watch most of the video with the sub, then we’ll finish it when I’m back.

I also created a worksheet for the class to make sure they’re paying attention and focus their thoughts, with homework questions for them to consider. In the next class we’ll finish the video and use the homework sheets to guide a class discussion.


Stevie Wonder

Our class listening for 9/16-17 was Stevie Wonder!

Stevie Wonder has enjoyed a long career in music, with 30 top-ten hits and 25 Grammy awards. He’s touring in October, if you want to take a road trip to San Antonio, you can see him perform live on the 31st!

Slides are here.

Check out a video of Stevie Wonder’s most well-known hit, Superstitious.

The Star Spangled Banner

On September 14th, 1814, Francis Scott Key penned a poem that would eventually become the National Anthem of the United States, The Star Spangled Banner. Today in class we will listen to the National Anthem and discuss its history.


On The Transmigration of Souls

Our in-class listening for September 10 and 11 is On The Transmigration of Souls by John Adams.

On The Transmigration of Souls is described by the composer as a “memory space” for the victims of 9/11. He explicitly avoided words like “memorial” or “requiem.”

The piece begins with the normal sounds of traffic in New York City – passing cars, sirens, doors slamming. Voices begin to speak words. At first we hear names, and the word “missing.” Soon the voices add more personal qualifiers – “my brother” and “my uncle.” Later words are taken from the hastily produced flyers that were posted after the event on any window, fence, or wall that would allow it. The orchestra and chorus add in, at first with beauty, and later with a cacophony of chaotic noise.

Adams says about the title:

“Transmigration” means “the movement from one place to another” or “the transition from one state of being to another.” It could apply to populations of people, to migrations of species, to changes of chemical compositon, or to the passage of cells through a membrane. But in this case I mean it to imply the movement of the soul from one state to another. And I don’t just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience transformed.

9/11 greatly affected my life, personally and professionally. Many of my students today see 9/11 as yet another event in history to learned about, repeated on a test, and promptly forgotten. I hope that our listening and discussion can bring a personal element to the story and remind us all of the impact that this event had on individuals, the United States, and the world.

Not In Our Name – Charlie Haden

Jazz Band today will listen to Not In Our Name, by Charlie Haden and the Liberation Orchestra. Not In Our Name is a song, and an album by the same name, created to protest the political climate in the post 9/11 world.

Check out the slides.

Listen to the song on YouTube:

Thelonius Monk

Thelonius Monk was one of the giants of jazz piano, and the second-most recorded jazz artist (after Duke Ellington). Jazz band today will hear several selections from The Genius of Modern Music, Volume I.

Check out the slides.

Listen online:

Heavy Weather

Weather Report were not the first, but definitely one of the best known, pioneers of jazz fusion, mixing electronic instruments with jazz, rock, funk, and R&B. Today in jazz band we will hear a few selections from their album Heavy Weather, including their most popular tune Birdland.

Check out the slides for more info.

Here’s a video from a live performance in 1978.