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 Post subject: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:52 pm 
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My first teaching job involved teaching band, string orchestra, general music, and group folk guitar in grades seven and eight. in the public schools.

The guitar song book the school district provided us didn't contain any songs that the kids knew: they were all songs that were old, and inexpensive to pay copyright fees for their use in the book. Some were even in the public domain, they were so old. The kids just weren't interested in music that they didn't know.

I spoke to my principal and the school district administrators, and they decided that it would be okay for the kids to bring in recordings of songs that they liked -- and/or that I was familiar with. Most of this music was current, within the last 20 years or less. Thus, virtually all of the songs were protected by copyright.

The school district's position was that, as long as I prepared copies of lead sheets containing the song lyrics with chord symbols above the lyrics, and we learned the music just for in-class use -- and for an occasional no-admission-fee school concert -- our use of these copyrighted songs would fall under the fair use doctrine of the United States copyright law.

After I quit teaching, and a few years later got my UCLA law degree -- with an emphasis in copyright law -- I looked up this issue on my own. It turns out there are several legal precedents where music publishers at the time didn't seem to mind if their copyrighted music was used in this manner for educational purposes only. This was -- and to some extent remains -- a sort of "gray area" in copyright law.

However, there was a case where a music teacher did his own arrangement of copyrighted music, and charged a 50-cent admission fee to parents and the public.

Both this teacher and his school district were sued for copyright infringement, because he had charged admission, and, among the issues of the case, the copyright holders for the music performed claimed that they were entitled to royalties from the admission charges. Unfortunately for the teacher and the school district, the music publishers won the case.

However, these days, with increased proliferation of music through the Internet, handheld devices, etc., the term "fair use" is more proscribed than when I taught folk guitar in junior high.
______________________

I'll have more to say about this unique and interesting seven-year professional experience of mine in future posts.

Meanwhile, I invite comments from anyone who has had any kind of similar experiences teaching guitar in the public schools -- especially where possible copyright issues may have been involved. But if anyone has had this kind of teaching experience without any copyright issues arising, the readers of this thread -- myself included -- would enjoy hearing about your experiences.


Last edited by musicfunman on Wed May 02, 2012 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:26 am 
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My guitar teacher was a faggot who refused to let me play chords. I pussied out and quit instead of doing what I should've done which is break my $15 acoustic over his fucking hippie dipshit face.

get him, twelve year old me


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:16 am 
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I used to teach a bunch of instruments (even though I was only any good at a few of them!) at a summer camp, and I always just asked the kids what they wanted to play, and then I taught it to them. I ended up teaching a lot of kids how to play Taylor Swift and Black Eyed Peas, but it's what they wanted to learn and I can tell they had way more fun with it than if I had forced them to just go through scales right off the bat (although I did work on important music stuff with the kids who I could tell were really talented and were definitely gonna stick with it for a long time).

My favorite story, and I'm sure I've posted it, is when I asked an eight year old what song he wanted to play, and he sighs and goes "Hot Cross Buns." And I said, "Really? What's your favorite band?" And he's like "The Beastie Boys," so I taught him "Fight For your Right." Then at the end of the lesson he says, "Thanks, but you'll probably have to teach it to me again tomorrow since I can't practice it at home. My mom doesn't let me listen to the Beastie Boys."


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:23 am 
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I teach sax and clarinet, and once my students have got to the stage where they can play basic scales and understand basic theory I chuck Watermelon Man at them and make them improvise. I've had several students leaving the lesson saying that was the coolest thing they've ever done, even if their skills are still in the early stages. Heaps of my students couldn't name one famous saxophonist, or even recognise saxohpone parts in songs, despite playing the instrument, so I try to correct that by giving them an appreciation of decent sax (and clarinet) music.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:56 am 
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I've given a couple of lessons but I've never considered taking it more seriously. My guitar teacher was awesome, though. I rarely use the word virtuoso to describe a player, but he is definitely one.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:09 pm 
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batman wrote:
I used to teach a bunch of instruments (even though I was only any good at a few of them!) at a summer camp, and I always just asked the kids what they wanted to play, and then I taught it to them. I ended up teaching a lot of kids how to play Taylor Swift and Black Eyed Peas, but it's what they wanted to learn and I can tell they had way more fun with it than if I had forced them to just go through scales right off the bat (although I did work on important music stuff with the kids who I could tell were really talented and were definitely gonna stick with it for a long time).

My favorite story, and I'm sure I've posted it, is when I asked an eight year old what song he wanted to play, and he sighs and goes "Hot Cross Buns." And I said, "Really? What's your favorite band?" And he's like "The Beastie Boys," so I taught him "Fight For your Right." Then at the end of the lesson he says, "Thanks, but you'll probably have to teach it to me again tomorrow since I can't practice it at home. My mom doesn't let me listen to the Beastie Boys."


As a seasoned music educator (I also teach several other business and law-related subjects at two local college extension programs), I think it's a great that you asked the kids what they wanted to play. That's what I also do with my adult students in classes like Math Refresher, Business Writing Skills, and so forth: I ask my students exactly what it is they wish to learn in each class, and then I help them learn these things, actively involving them in the learning discovery process as much as possible.

It's been my experience that your students really appreciate your willingness to abide by their actual needs.

I also think that it's good that once you started to teach them the things that they told you they wanted to learn, that you did work on "important music stuff" (I assume you mean scales, music reading, and so on?) with those kids who you identified as having real talent and were definitely going to stick with it for a long time.

Your kids may not have realized it then, but they do need a foundation in the basics, even if they're having fun playing things they want to play.

I too have encountered humorous real-life stories like the one you related about the eight-year-old.

I appreciate your post, batman!


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Mitch NZ wrote:
I teach sax and clarinet, and once my students have got to the stage where they can play basic scales and understand basic theory I chuck Watermelon Man at them and make them improvise. I've had several students leaving the lesson saying that was the coolest thing they've ever done, even if their skills are still in the early stages. Heaps of my students couldn't name one famous saxophonist, or even recognise saxohpone parts in songs, despite playing the instrument, so I try to correct that by giving them an appreciation of decent sax (and clarinet) music.


I think it's great that you take your students to the stage where they can play basic scales and understand basic music theory first. (Some teachers like to start out without these basics, and add them later, whereas other teachers -- such as yourself -- prefer to do the basics first. Whatever works for you and your students is a good idea.)

I've played Watermelon Man many times, and I think it's a catchy tune to chuck at them and then make them improvise. (Did you know that some teachers I've encountered won't allow their students to learn anything fun -- or even worse, won't allow them to improvise at all? I've discovered that virtually all the time it's because the teacher himself can't do these things. Isn't that amazing -- and for we musicians, isn't that also very distressing!?)

Isn't it very satisfying when you hear students tell you that what you taught them was the greatest thing they've ever done?

Yes, I've encountered students who couldn't name one single famous player of their instrument, and some who couldn't even recognize their instrument parts in songs. Giving your students an appreciation of decent sax and clarinet music sounds like a good idea.

Appreciate your input, Mitch NZ. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:33 pm 
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Sodacake wrote:
I've given a couple of lessons but I've never considered taking it more seriously. My guitar teacher was awesome, though. I rarely use the word virtuoso to describe a player, but he is definitely one.


Sodacake, I'm just curious: how come you never considered giving lessons more seriously, as you say?

Isn't it just incredible to have an "awesome" teacher? -- and a virtuoso player as well!

In my six years at UCLA (B.A., M.A., two California teaching credentials), I can count the number of absolutely "awesome" instructors that I was privileged to have on about one hand. And you know what? I can still name each of them by name -- and tell you exactly what class each taught when I was their student.

I don't think I'll ever forget any of them -- and it's been around three decades since I completed my UCLA music education experience. That's what a truly awesome teacher does for you!

It was good to hear from you, Sodacake.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:34 pm 
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monga18 wrote:
My guitar teacher was a faggot who refused to let me play chords. I pussied out and quit instead of doing what I should've done which is break my $15 acoustic over his fucking hippie dipshit face.

get him, twelve year old me


:lol: In so many words, this is exactly what happened to me, except I was ten.

For three years I took lessons from this guy, learning to play the melody (no bass notes even) to songs like "The Little Drummer Boy" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." At the end of my last lesson, the guy says, "Oh man, I didn't teach you any chords, did I? Man, I feel kinda bad."

:freak: :freak: :freak:


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:48 am 
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musicfunman wrote:
Sodacake wrote:
I've given a couple of lessons but I've never considered taking it more seriously. My guitar teacher was awesome, though. I rarely use the word virtuoso to describe a player, but he is definitely one.


Sodacake, I'm just curious: how come you never considered giving lessons more seriously, as you say?

It was just kind of a hassle to be honest, though it was a good way to keep my skills sharp.
musicfunman wrote:
Isn't it just incredible to have an "awesome" teacher? -- and a virtuoso player as well!

It really is. On top of being a virtuoso, he was also an excellent teacher. Patient and intuitive and he could teach me literally anything I wanted to learn. I don't understand how a guitar teacher of lesser skill can even call themselves such.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:19 am 
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Is musicfunman one of your old army buddies, Soda?


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:18 pm 
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Yup.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:55 am 
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Sodacake wrote:
musicfunman wrote:
Sodacake wrote:
I've given a couple of lessons but I've never considered taking it more seriously. My guitar teacher was awesome, though. I rarely use the word virtuoso to describe a player, but he is definitely one.


Sodacake, I'm just curious: how come you never considered giving lessons more seriously, as you say?

It was just kind of a hassle to be honest, though it was a good way to keep my skills sharp.

musicfunman wrote:
Isn't it just incredible to have an "awesome" teacher? -- and a virtuoso player as well!


It really is. On top of being a virtuoso, he was also an excellent teacher. Patient and intuitive and he could teach me literally anything I wanted to learn. I don't understand how a guitar teacher of lesser skill can even call themselves such.


I know what you mean about the hassle part of giving lessons.

When I used to teach instrumental music at the junior high level several years ago, a couple of days a week I scheduled one or two piano/guitar lessons after school, and would drive over directly from school. Instead of getting home at around 3:30 pm (school let out at around 3:00 pm), on these days I would get home closer to 5:30 or 6:00 pm.

You're right however that it did keep not only my teaching skills sharp, but my playing skills as well.

Yes, I have met many teachers of lesser skill, and have wondered the same thing you've wondered: how could these people even call themselves teachers, when they were uninspiring, unwilling to teach certain things (especially pop music, playing by ear, etc.) -- and were willing to teach you only what they wanted to teach you (usually because that was all they new!).

Any chance of picking up those lessons again with your excellent teacher?


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:46 pm 
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I'm self taught. Ya know, like a man.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Group Guitar in Junior High School
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:58 pm 
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monga18 wrote:
My guitar teacher was a faggot who refused to let me play chords.


How can you even teach guitar without teaching chords?


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