Friday, December 30, 2011

The Wonders of UJAM

As I was thinking about composing in January, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon an amazing song creation website called UJAM (http://www.ujam.com), currently in its beta phase. I was mesmerized by this concept and technology that enables anyone to make music with a simple interface. All one needs to get started is a melody line or musical idea which can be recorded using a microphone. Users can sing the melody or upload a file of a song played on an instrument.
Then the fun begins when users have the ability to select styles and listen to the music come alive with a professional backtrack. Even the simplest melodies could sound great with a few clicks with UJAM!

A few thoughts came to my mind as I explore this tool and its potential to inspire students to compose and learn the different genres and chord progressions that give the music its distinct character and mood.
  • I'm excited that the little ones can now experience how they can make their little tune transform  with this tool. 
  • Students can explore the different harmonies and chord progressions of selected styles. The chord names that accompany the playback are very helpful!
  • File sharing. Once a song is completed, users may save the file in mp3 format and even share it with friends and family on Facebook.
Amidst the wonderful benefits of UJAM, I did wonder if the presence of such technology could actually be detrimental for music students when students can easily become complacent and ultimately forego learning music theory at a deeper level. I certainly hope that this tool will open doors for students to unveil their creativity and above all realize the composer within themselves with ideas emerging from a UJAM creation.

Here's a little song that was created on UJAM to demonstrate its capabilities. I'm naming it "A Song From the Mayan Village". The journey through the Mayan village in Mexico elicited a melancholic feeling that inspired this melody.
Overall, I was quite impressed that the a song can be created in just minutes with a couple of clicks. 
This song was first recorded on Garageband, then saved in mp3 format and uploaded to UJAM. On UJAM, I simply selected the style, the "mood" through the "edit chord" mode and finally I changed the instrument from piano to clarinet. 


I think this will be a very interesting fun and educational tool for the piano studio. Would love to hear  ideas surrounding this technology, please feel free to offer thoughts and comments if you have any to share.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Christmas Recitals

This December has been filled with wonderful moments to cherish with my family and students. Our family just returned from a wonderful trip to Mexico and it's holiday and time off that I really appreciated with my loved ones. We came back with lots of fun memories and photos we captured to remember this special trip.

Upon my return, I have been busy preparing for mini Christmas recitals in my studio. It was a full week of recitals and the students all performed with such poise and pride as we collectively celebrated each other's achievements and the spirit of sharing this season. Every year, the Christmas recitals are held in my studio and I have mini recitals that accommodate smaller groups of students instead of renting a large hall and piano for this event. This gives a more intimate setting and makes it less intimidating particularly for the little ones as it is the first performing experience for many of them. I have also had the pleasure of including a few parents in the program with solos, duets and the lovely singing of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" rendered with guitar accompaniment.

We played a few games after the recital. What FUN! Charades and Pictionary seemed to be the favourites and I'm so amazed at everyone's skills at this game. It is so funny how players could make out the name of a Christmas song by drawing just a few lines! I love adapting these wonderful games to our classes especially seeing how the audience warmed up and participated with great sportsmanship! 

This season reminds me of everything I have been blessed with and I just am so thankful to reflect on these gifts and the wonderful families and students who have enriched my experience and life as a piano teacher. It's been a wonderful 2011 and here's wishing everyone a beautiful and blessed Christmas and a fantastic 2012.

Here's a slideshow I'd like to share that highlights the photos captured from the recital. Enjoy!

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