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Thread: Student Motivation

  1. #1
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    Default Student Motivation

    QNote said in another thread:

    As a college instructor, I applaud a program that can motivate kids to that level, since most kids today are more unmotivated than ever (that is obviously another thread). It is sad in the lack of drive most young adults have today to do something worthwhile with their lives--at least, in my experience. Oh, sorry...I said that was another thread.
    For those who are instructors here, and I know there are several, how do you motivate students? What are your experiences with students today?

    I had a recent experience that I will share soon but it was not encouraging. I was just wondering how it is for others.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  2. #2
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    I taught quite a few corporate classes where many of the students were late teens and very young adults and of course there is an advantage with a music related course being that most everyone is probably there voluntarily which helps.

    As to motivation... the best way I know how to do that for most (can't motivate everyone) is to schedule time to chat individually with each student. When I did that I usually started with the apparently least involved and kinda worked my way up from there, making sure I paired them with the overachievers for projects which also helped.

    Anyway, I found that taking an honest direct interest in individual students - time permitting - helps a lot. I know we're old but if we think back to pre-college days the teachers who inspired us the most were the ones whom we thought genuinely cared about our progress, not just giving us lip service.

  3. #3
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    Well, I taught a class on equalization two weeks ago. There were 8 students, all seniors. Just one hour and fifteen minutes, and it was the week of Thanksgiving but three days before Thanksgiving. I gave it all I had.

    I brought in an 80 channel orchestral recording, sub'd to stems as drums, bass, rhythm insts, brass, woodwinds, strings, orchestral perc and loops. It was a 54 piece orchestral recording done all live in the studio at the same time. I showed the component parts and showed how you could change not only the timbre of the instruments but even the relative balance of the instruments with just EQ. How you could mix the tracks using EQ and not touching the faders. How to bring things forward and back in the mix. How you could make one thing sound huge and fantastic but it wouldn't fit in with the whole and contribute the right way. How fattening up the snare sounded great but made it sound dull in the context of the mix. How boosting upper mids can sound like pulling out lower mids. How putting a lot of bloom on the tympani would obliterate the definition in the double basses. How accenting the rhythmic figure in the double basses stole the thunder from the bass trombone. How brightening up the piatti sounded cool when solo'd but made it sound like an overdub instead of an integral part of the orchestral whole.

    I really thought there was a lot of meat to the presentation.

    I asked if there were any questions the whole way through the presentation and there was not a single question the whole time. Not even when I was done. I even offered to let them sit down at the 96 input Neve 80-series console in front of the Allen Sides monitors and try their hand at mixing it. No takers.

    I was shocked.

    In all honesty, I think they may have been overwhelmed. I don't think any of them had ever listened "into" an orchestral recording before. They may just have been stunned and disoriented.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    They may just have been stunned and disoriented.
    Or heavily "medicated"...
    Todd Robbins
    TX3 Productions, Inc.
    www.toddro.com

  5. #5
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    Maybe they just weren't interested in that kind of music. What might have happened if it were a rock or country/pop mix?
    "Death Therapy, Bob. Guaranteed cure."-Dr. Leo Marvin

    -George Bartholomew

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SafetyCopy View Post
    Maybe they just weren't interested in that kind of music. What might have happened if it were a rock or country/pop mix?
    I wondered about that. They had Chuck Ainlay the week before dissecting a country song. I was encouraged to do something that would expose them to something new. I know for a fact (I checked back with the teacher) that none of them had ever worked on anything like this before.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  7. #7
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    I was thinking the same thing and actually posted it and removed it pending additional discussion. With kids and music, if their heads aren't bobbing... they're not into it.

  8. #8
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    They were lucky to have Chuck Ainlay come in. He was on a panel at AES and brought us his mix of "Solitary Thinking" which made me have to really respect the level of talent in Nashville. Really friendly, unassuming guy, and I liked his philosophy of using the ProTools but mixing through an analog console.

    When I was in high school, our "music appreciation" class was all classical and Broadway music, except for one day when an album was played that dissected Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World." Things were soloed up, balances were adjusted, EQ's were changed. I was amazed, and that was the moment when I realized I was much more interested in doing that than just playing rock and roll. But there was no gear available to me, so I kept playing guitar. We were also forced to attend two live musicals of our own choosing. I remember cutting school one Wednesday to see a noon matinee of "Chorus Line" with a friend, because those tickets are EXPENSIVE for kids.

    I still scored 100% on every test and exam, which were mostly identifying snippets of music that had been played in class, because I wanted to know as much about music as I could learn, but I was doing math homework when the teacher was playing along with a recording of Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" - because it was a bit tedious.

    My teacher asked to see my notes for the semester, as it was an open-note final. I pulled out 3 legal sized pages with the title and composer of each song - and no more than 2 lines of identifying notes with them. That was it - and he was a bit amazed, because he said no one had ever scored 100% before.

    I found the class to be a chore, other than the "Joy To The World" day - but by that time I was already splicing 1/4" tape and had built a patch bay and my room was surrounded with scavenged speakers all dutifully wired into my homemade patchbay - which I thought I had invented. If they were playing Zeppelin and Hendrix, I would have been SOOOO happy to be learning something I was really interested in and could use. But I would have never heard "Gigi" or "The Rothschilds."

    I suppose it's a balance. (Pun intended.)

    One motivational tool I have seen work in an academic setting was in college. If we wanted to use the studios, we had to pass a "proficiency test." And it was not a simple test. We're talking about block diagrams for each console, and we had to identify each place on the console that the tester pointed out on our personal copy of the block diagrams. And the ultimate proficiency test for the 16 track studio with the API console was no picnic. No studio time and you can't do your projects though, so you're out of the program if you don't pass.

    I don't know how to make orchestral music "cool" for high schoolers. But in no way do I advocate making an audio class all "candy" for the babies.

    You had a tough act to follow.

    But ever since I heard Chuck's mix of "Solitary Thinking," I've wanted to hear Joss Stone take a stab at that song and soul it up a bit.

    I've filled in teaching some university level classes (offered by the best university in the state) in audio at the studio where I was on staff, and even post high school students who are there by choice are a bit intimidated to be sitting behind a large console.

    I would say "A spoonfull of sugar makes the medicine go down." They've got to know this stuff (even if they'll be working with samples) and I don't think you can change what kids like, or will admit to liking.
    "Death Therapy, Bob. Guaranteed cure."-Dr. Leo Marvin

    -George Bartholomew

  9. #9
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    Motivation is a tough one.

    In the environment I teach in, one of the key 'de-motivators' is related to students not paying their own tuition. In the University where I teach, tuition is $27k annually with approximately another $11k for Freshman and Sophomores in housing/meals. I only see Junior through terminating Graduate students so $27k is the typical pricetag on their per semester bill.

    I think the calculation is something like $120 per hour per student to attend my undergrad courses and a bit more for the graduates.

    Some Profs pound assignments in high quantities as a method for keeping motivation high. I don't do that - I interact with them as professionals in the industry - the mature students weed them selves out of the pack of the apathetic and get a lot of value out of what we do.

    -D

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SafetyCopy View Post
    I don't know how to make orchestral music "cool" for high schoolers. But in no way do I advocate making an audio class all "candy" for the babies.
    These weren't high schoolers. I didn't make that clear. These were college seniors.

    And I wasn't there to entertain them, but to teach. (I know you weren't suggesting otherwise.) I think exposing them to things that they've never encountered before is very valuable, whether it is something they like or not.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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