Mitchell Davis : About Me

Mitchell Davis is currently a music education student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, born in 1997 in Sydney. Following a positive experience with music education in primary and secondary school combined with a personal interest in music as an art form and pastime, the decision to become a secondary school music teacher was naturally made.

Complimentary to studying music education, Mitchell also holds ongoing experience working casually in a youth centre in his home town of Liverpool, New South Wales. After studying a Certificate IV in Youth Work, It was here that he initially found his confidence and appreciation for working with young people to achieve positive outcomes, predominately running various sport and recreational youth programs both in local Liverpool school environments and at the youth centre’s facilities.

Mitchell’s specific area of musical expertise is in contemporary popular music. He is a guitarist and songwriter who enjoys genres such as heavy metal, extreme metal, hard rock, blues and pop. He has begun to write, release and perform his original music in order to gain greater experience in the world of contemporary music and give more value to his skills in becoming a music educator.

Mitchell Davis’ first official musical release with his band Together As One

“Essential skills for the modern musician” by Mitchell Davis

Below is a link to ibooks resource created for the course. I may not keep this blog post and link up forever, if I choose to keep the recourse private, though for the time being it will be available to download here. In the spirit of the upcoming presentation for semester 1 2020 Tech in music ed class, it will remain public and available for the time being.

The project reflects my main interests from the realm of topics looked at over the semester, and some of the general ideas and thoughts I’ve had for creating my own educational/entertainment based resources potentially even for a youtube channel one day.

Here is the dropbox link (which is unable to give a preview directly on the page but will allow for download of the file) :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qv0ats6pjq92gl5/Essential%20Skills%20for%20the%20Modern%20Musician.ibooks?dl=0

Thank you for reading and as mentioned previously, this is very much the end of the blog for it’s original purpose, however it will always remain online and will serve as a nice platform for me to keep a record of my own experiences with using technology as a future (and one day current) music educator.

Mitchell James Davis

Please let me know if you have found this page through facebook

My project is ready : “Essential skills for the modern musician”.

That’s right. While it may seem like a quick turn around from posting about my project on Monday, once again I have decided to only put my best foot forward when blogging about it. Full disclosure, yes I had started some of the process of creating the Ibook when blogging about the completion of the video series (show business is all about creating illusion and entertainment). Here is the completed Ibooks version for your entertainment. Below I will discuss the making of the resource, particularly how I decided to use specific Ibooks features and how the video series I created remains the focal point with the Ibook format as an embellishment.

Front Cover

This is my first time creating an Ibooks resource, and I thoroughly enjoyed using it, knowing that it would create a good looking piece of work. Our lecturer James created a youtube playlist of Ibook tutorials which I took note of, however reminding myself that I will need to pick and choose from all of the possibilities (just as I mention in the music theory intro video that music theory is a set of tools that you can pick and choose from). Most notably, use of the widgets function allowed for video and images throughout the resource. In sum, the features I used from Ibooks author really comes down to embedding the videos I created throughout, along with images sourced from copyright free sources, and text boxes to supplement and further explain/consolidate the content from the video and image sources. As mentioned in my previous post, most of the production value here comes from the video series, with the Ibook mainly as a format of presentation.

Video Page Example
Images and text example
My personal favourite part of the resource. Arguably the highest production value is contained in this video.

I am proud of this resource, it has achieved what I set out to create. Within the five areas of music theory, learning, performing, songwriting, and recording, I have touched on the fundamentals and given some details, without going to overly extensive lengths of any specific examples, since the resource should be accessible to musicians with interest in any instrument and genre.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading, this is more than likely the last post related to work in this class (technology in music education), however I may revisit this blog whenever I discover an interesting piece of tech that I could use for my future career as a music educator.

Please let me know if you have found this page through a shared facebook link

Mitchell Davis

My project in the works

I have chosen to put my best foot forward for creating a blog post about my project in the works prior to it’s completion. Although reflection and improvement is an important process, I intend to post about my project now and once more when it is finished. I believe this is the best way to get my thoughts across, instead of scattering these into separate posts and losing a sense of a clear picture that includes all details of the process.

The first major process of my project has been completed, creating a series of (what turned out to be a sum of 13) videos that will form the bulk of my ibook resource aimed at giving young, beginning musicians the awareness and simple tools they need to begin creating, engaging and exploring their own journey to become the musician they dream of. I have chosen 5 areas to divide the resource into, which are music theory, learning to play music, performance, songwriting and creating original music, and recording music. The aim with this project is not to go too far down the rabbit hole of any of these areas, as I can not possibly assume that every viewer will have the same musical goals and inspirations as myself. Rather, I am aiming to give the viewer some essential skills and awareness of these skills, while leaving the door open for their own journey based on the instruments they play, the music they enjoy and the motivations they have for becoming a musician.

Here are some screen shots from the video series that is now ready to be utilised :

The tools and processes I used reflect the AV skills we have learnt not only in tech in music ed, but the other classes I have this semester which include these skills. The best camera that I have access to is my iphone XR, with the best source of audio for recording my voice being a Shure SM57 I loaned from the con. I used a single loud clap at the start of each recording to sync the voice audio from the SM57 track and the video from my iphone camera. I was also able to record my guitar as a DI into my laptop while filming the musical tutorial sections and blend this with the sound of the guitar in the room. The guitar tracks all have some plugin guitar sounds that I use from Toontrack, which when blended with the sound of the guitar in the room create the illusion of playing an amp in the room on camera.

I used iMovie to edit the videos together, which included creating a “branding” intro of the ‘theme song’ for the project (which is the example piece created during the soundtrap recording tutorial pictured above), and of course a background (red curtains) and text signature for all videos. Personally, the soundtrap recording is something I enjoyed making, the production quality on that is arguable the highest, as I did some research and discovered an application called soundflower which allows direct recording of computer sound while doing a screen recording on quicktime player. This video also taught me about the audio MIDI setup on mac computers and about how to combine sources of audio. I was able to combine the sound of my voice being monitored and recorded through the SM57 microphone coming through the soundtrap, along with a DI signal of my guitar also coming through the monitoring and recording functions of soundtrap. Lastly, I captured the sound of using a soundtrap drum loop, as well as capturing direct playback of the project with the vocal, guitar and drum tracks together. Yeah, I highly recommend soundflower for Mac users, it is a life saver when you combine it with the manipulation of your Audio MIDI setup on a mac.

Here is a screenshot of the logic project containing some of the audio recordings of my voice and the guitar tracks from some (not all) of the videos I created :

Thank you for reading, please let me know if you have found this page through a facebook share. Stay tuned for the update when the ibook resource is finished.
If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to check out my previous post on the work of my peers, on which I share my own thoughts with a few comments on their blogs, which you will find links to on that prior post of mine.

Mitchell Davis

The work of my peers over the semester

As we have now finished our 13 weeks of classes, I decided to take a look at some of the work done by my peers, leaving a comment or two afterwards. I chose to take a look at some of the reflections on their projects as well as look back on the thoughts of others from weeks that I enjoyed most.

https://kwumusic.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/week-5-videography/#comments

First, here is Katrina’s blog post on the videography week. Personally, this was one of my favourite weeks, as getting into creating original video content is something I have considered doing even for a hobby (guitar covers and such). Over this semester I have had several classes touch on these skills in various ways, allowing us the opportunity to build new skills for the purpose of our future careers as music educators. Katrina mentions many of the key points discussed in class including the use of multiple camera angles, or filming separate pieces of video and editing them together later, using a separate higher quality source of audio rather than the stock audio of a camera, and lastly using the clap and sync method in order to easily sync camera footage and audio. These general video and audio skills are something that contribute largely to my major project.

https://ladyembouchure.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/auralia-and-musition-and-a-new-project/#respond

Here is Ashleigh’s post about Aurelia and Musition along with her project in the making. While the Aurelia and Musition aspect of this week was engaging and something I should definitely keep an eye on as a resource for my future career, I am more looking at Ashleigh’s project ideas here. She is creating an ibook resource dedicated to teaching younger students and children about the orchestra and it’s instruments. The resource will teach details such as the sound of the instrument, it’s clef, and it’s techniques. Ashleigh also intends to include interactive elements from the ibook functions. Personally it is a resource I would take good interest in, as a contemporary music person it would be valuable to learn more about the orchestra.

https://bholdmusic.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/week-11-5/

Similarly, here is Bridgette’s project in the works. Contrary to Ashleigh, Bridgette is creating a documentary resource on electronic music. She has mentioned in class that while she has a large background in classical music, she is also interested in many electronic artists and the processes of making the music. In her blog post she has created a timeline of steps to complete the project which includes research script writing, interviews, recording of her own content, and final editing. It will be interesting to take a look at the final product and learn about this entire subculture of music that I am not very familiar with.

https://mishmusic.wordpress.com/2020/02/24/reflections/12/

Lastly, here is Mishael’s blog from week 12, in which our lecturer James walked us through some of the psychology and processes behind staying motivated and planning out your time to accomplish the workload you have in front of you. Mishael mentions that while completing a task and crossing it off the list feels great, the recent circumstances of studying and working from home have been incredibly sudden for us all, becoming detrimental to our motivation. However, she also mentions the new found energy that can be put into reflecting on the work of each day both in the morning and night, helping to organise tasks throughout the week. While it has been an incredibly strange time, I am grateful to be a part of a great community at the con in music ed, with teachers and students that are motivated to continue striving and supporting each other.

Ethan Hein’s perspective on electronic music in music education

This week for technology in music education, we were joined by Ethan Hein for one of his several lectures for music education here at the con. The focus of this lecture was electronic music and it’s place in music education, with a discussion of how this music can be brought into the classroom successfully. While this topic has naturally been a part of several lectures in this course, having Ethan Hein’s perspective on electronic music and it’s place in music education was especially thought provoking.

Ethan walked us through several of his preferred effects and methods of music making with Ableton live, a program that we have been exposed to in this course a few times already. Many of the methods involved the manipulation of existing music, which falls in line with Ethan’s interest in the contentious issues that surround rap and hip hop music. For example, using the vocoder to manipulate live recorded human vocal performances was an interesting way to bring a new modern energy to live vocals. Further examples that were interesting included manipulating live recorded drum performances using simple cut and paste functions, and ableton effects such as beat repeat, as well as slicing the audio and assigning the samples to a midi controller in order to have control over creating a sampled drumbeat. Ethan also discussed the history of technology behind tempo and pitch manipulation, as in the past it was impossible to change tempo without affecting pitch and vice versa. These techniques are some of many examples of methods to engage students in the modern music classroom in a way that is relevant to the popular musical landscape of today.

It is important to consider how best to bring electronic music such as this into the music classroom. Ethan Hein has also given us lectures in the past few days about how to approach rap music in the classroom, considering it’s specific values on individuality and race. Personally, using electronic music education through the use of programs such as ableton or even ipad/phone/computer/online apps to create electronic/sampled sounds for students is a great place to start. A video created by Eric Jao (DJ Enferno – not inferno) states his tips for using music production and electronic music in the classroom. He opens with a great analogy, which is that pre made sound loops are like big building blocks and are easy for students to work with, rather than smaller lego bricks requiring planning and detail (which can be compared to writing music note by note with an instrument). The pre made audio loops in a program like garage band or sound trap are a great starting point for bringing electronic music into the classroom. Jao also states the importance of giving students parameters to work within, while still allowing them the freedom to be creative. His example in this case is to tell students to choose one drum loop, one bass loop and one melodic loop so that students are not losing track of creating a piece of music with clarity.

Thank you for reading, please let me know if you have found this page through a shared link on facebook

Mitchell

Workload, time management, stress and staying mentally healthy

This week in tech in music education, we explored a topic outside the realm of being solely a music educator, but certainly one that will guide us on a good path if we are able to adopt good organisation and time management skills into our future professional lives. That topic can simply be called “Getting things done” and maintaining the stress of a busy schedule and the distractions of technology.

James presented various examples of how technology in a general sense can influence people of any age in both personal and professional circumstances. The interview excerpt with Max Stossel from the centre of humane technology stated that “50% of teens feel addicted to their phones” (CNN). He also stated that many professionals in the technology and marketing spheres feel that the ability to hold an audience’s attention for merely 2 minutes was a mark of value. These are certainly thought provoking ideas, especially the thought that more development of mobile phones may be doing more harm than good for everyone’s productivity and sense of the real world. 

The themes of this week were definitely comforting to myself and I’m sure it is the same for the other students, as we gear up for our final exams and projects. With James walking us through some of his processes for time management and completing tasks, it put some of the stress of undergraduate exams and projects into perspective. Most significantly, James presented a workflow chart for managing new pieces of work that arise. Essentially, the first step is to determine if the task is realistic or actionable prior to investing the time and realising the limitations before it’s too late. If it is possible to complete the new piece of work, it is necessary to consider whether it is a small task that can be completed on the spot, something that requires some time but may be possible to finish that day, or if it is something that requires planning and multiple steps to complete over several days or weeks. Personally, putting in the time to comprehend the new task in detail is just as important as the finished product, since quality planning will result in a better end product.

Here is a screenshot from the lecture of the workflow chart :

To finish off this blog, here is a youtube clip made by one of my recent favourite artists/youtubers/podcasters Mary Spender discussing her strengths and weaknesses with time management, discipline and reflecting on her efforts in the work she does to create her content. The stress over a busy schedule or falling behind your own deadlines is a universal theme and something that is swept under the rug a lot of the time in conversation. However, taking the time to relax, reflect and begin working in the right mindset is fundamental to everything.

Thank you for reading

Mitchell

The balance between traditional music theory education and personal musical development

This week in Technology in music education, we were joined by Peter Lee who walked us through the incredible tools of Aurelia and Musition. Much like harmony and aural perception classes at the con, they are complimentary, collectively representing musical listening skills and writing skills.

There are many platforms and teachers that claim to offer engaging lessons on all aspects of music theory, however these two platforms are perfect for the classroom environment specifically, offering basically all the theory content you could dream in a music classroom. Ideally, I would pair the exercises found on Aurelia and Musition with practical musical examples, either activities with instruments or listening activities with music chosen that demonstrates a certain topic.

Music, just like any of the creative subjects, is interesting as it can be considered both an academic/creative/performing subject for education as well as a personal interest and craft. The two sides to this should be brought together as much as possible, if music teachers wish to engage their students. One example of the other end of the spectrum, being the personal interest aspect of music, is the well known and praised guitar teacher Justin Sandercoe. As a guitarist myself, his content on his website https://www.justinguitar.com/ is definitely of high quality and appeals to the personal interests of guitar players in many genres of music. A resource such as his online library of content is a perfect compliment to the strictly educational forms of music learning.

On that note, the other half of today’s lesson was a pitch for our major works. My project in a nutshell will be a video/Ibook resource that will give young musicians a starting point for the essential skills of music theory, learning to play music, songwriting, performing and recording music. While I will more than likely be using examples on guitar, I will make the resource open to any instrumentalist who is of the contemporary music persuasion. The intent here is not to attempt to persuade the viewer to become a musician who thinks, plays and writes the same way that i would, rather to compile my experiences into a single one stop shop resource that I wish i had when i was a young teenager learning to become an independent and creative musician.

Electronic music and mash up culture

This week for technology in music education, we explored the massively popular subculture of electronic music (those who are more in tune with the kids will be able to help me understand it) and specifically breaking down some of the stereotypes that come with it. These stereotypes can include the belief that it is easy music to compose and manipulate, or that there is a lack of depth in it’s creative intentions, substituting creativity for lucrative decisions. In fact, understanding the processes and details that go into DAW reliant music making is one tough challenge, and there is indeed a spectrum of both commercial and abstract or artistic electronic music.

Without further ado, here are some screenshots of the challenges set to our class by James. First up, a sound trap exercise in combining several samples taken from hit pop songs, in whatever ways we could imagine. I managed to combine the bass line of a Billie Eilish song, the synth melody from a Britney Spears track and the chorus of a Sia track, manipulating the key/pitch and the tempo of each until they all matched as if they were composed for the same piece of music. While publicly hearing audio of this exercise may not be entirely legal, here is a screenshot of the process :

Next, an activity assigned to us in using Ableton live for a similar desired result, with the added audio manipulation abilities of ableton versus the limitations of sound trap. This exercise also included a drum beat designed from the ableton learning website, with the online and free drum loop designer. As a modern musician who plays rock, metal and blues, using a DAW such as Ableton with it’s many features actually proves to be more difficult than one such as sound trap :

In the same vein as this week’s lesson, here is a video by ‘boyinaband’, the youtube channel of a musician who is passionate about both analogue, live instrumental recorded metal music and digital electronic music. In this video, he takes a close look at the stereotypes placed on electronic musicians. It becomes clear that the knowledge and skillset required to understand and produce any form of electronic music that can entertain an audience or gain reputation as high art requires as much time and effort as that of learning an instrument.

Thank you for reading

Mitchell Davis

Maker spaces and project based learning in music education

This week’s topic for technology in music education took a step back from screens, processors and digital beeps. The maker space movement was introduced to use, spaces in which ideas of any kind can become reality with enough conceptualising, drafting, creating, critiquing and reworking.

Our lesson was centred around an interview that our lecturer James did with Phil Nanlohy, a highly experienced figure in education within Sydney. After many years as a teacher and teacher educator, Phil was put in charge of designing a maker space to support project based learning for primary school students. He described the maker space as a space which allowed for a practical extension on the learning taking place in classes outside of the English and mathematics realms. Equipment that Phil chose included sewing machines, child friendly power tools and hand tools, electrical circuits and depending on the project, various recycled materials that could be up cycled and transformed into a new project with purpose and educational value.

An American teacher named Wesley Fryer has shared several ideas on integrating maker space concepts into combining general music and science concepts for primary (or elementary in North America) education. Such examples include the “waterphone centre activity” in which jars are filled with water to different levels, changing their pitch when used as a percussion instrument. Another example is the “sound through string and wire” activity in which students explore sound travelling down lengths of string and vibration in the air causing sound. These activities make for great fundamental science based exercises for primary students and open the window into practical music education beyond learning to sing or play an instrument.

Thank you reading, Please let me know if you have found this page through facebook 🙂

Electronic music for modern music education

What’s that I hear you ask? Not all music students are crazy about the chorale from yesterday’s class? Never fear, a brand new synth is here. This week in technology in music education we explored some of the fundamental elements of modern electronic music, along with some of the basic principles for the science behind sound waves travelling through the ear, amplification and hearing a sound.

First of all, the basic science behind sound waves. When a sound is created by someone playing an instrument, that instrument will cause air to start moving which travels to a listener’s ear as well as to walls and other hard surfaces, bouncing back and forth adding reverberation. If a sound requires amplification, a microphone can be used to capture the sound and send it to a speaker. The speaker will move back and forth to imitate the shape of the sound wave passing through the air in order to recreate the sound. The shape of a sound wave can easily be seen when recording audio into a DAW.

James took us into a shared sound trap session in which he had prepared several tracks with basic synth patches. We looked at the sound of different basic wave shapes including sine, square, triangle and sawtooth. We then looked at ADSR envelopes for controlling both amplitude and frequency for the synth sound. Having recently finished a dance track for my contemporary music class, I am familiar with just how easy it can be to use synth sounds to layer musical ideas and create a piece of music that is fun in the making and as an end product.

Later, we explored an application called sonic pi, a program that combines programming with composition. While I am yet to discover it’s full potential, my peers and I enjoyed making some strange new sounds and creating famous tunes through programming. Here is a screenshot of me programming a recent solfege exercise :

Modern electronic music definitely deserves a place in modern music education as it is has become an integral part of the modern popular music landscape. Electronic artists are wildly popular and praised for their creative and technical abilities.

Thank you for reading

Mitchell