Sunday, December 29, 2013

The invisibility of teachers

Another article about education reform talking about how teachers are not part of the process. An excerpt:

In effect, then, for a century, teachers have been invisible in their own field, except as both compliant workers implementing political and bureaucratic mandates and asoften-silent scapegoats as that bureaucracy fails. However, even that teachers have primarily been those who implement education policy instead of those creating it is more complicated than it seems.

Mr. Kozak

The 7 Superpowers every teacher should have

Here you go, teachers.

Mr. Kozak

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mashups Part 2


Here's an article explaining how to find the BPM of a song.

Mr. Kozak

Mashups Part 1

Students of music,

Making mashups is not easy, but the end result can be very, very cool.

Remember the basic rules:
1) The two songs have to be in the same tempo
2) The two songs have to be in the same meter

We listened to two examples (Radiohead with Dave Brubeck and James Brown with The Beatles)

If you use your BIG6 research skills, you can probably find a good tutorial to help you.

You can also find song banks listing songs with the same BPM (beats per minute)/tempo.

Good luck mashing up!

Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mind Up


Mind Up is a curriculum promoting mindfulness, stress reduction, meditation, empathy, and self-control. I look forward to reading through their materials and getting back to you. A potentially important part of any middle school pastoral program.

Mr. Kozak

Friday, December 6, 2013


Students and parents,

More and more research shows that play, daydreaming, and downtime is important for learning:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Nelson Mandela - 1918-2013

A sad day for one of history's most magnificent citizens, Nelson Mandela.

A great opportunity to listen to some music sung in the Xhosa language.

Rest in peace.
Chris Kozak

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

This is your Brain on Improv

TEDTalks are an amazing collection of videos that really bring concepts to life inside the mind.

Here is one relevant to what the Grade 7 students are doing right now about improv and the brain.

Mr. Kozak


Monday, December 2, 2013

African Dance Tutorials

Grade 6 Students,

Now that you have recorded a group dance video with at least three specific dance moves, you are going to record a voice-over and create an iMovie project explaining how to do the dance.

It is a multi-step, multi-class project, but you can work in groups until you need to use the microphones to record your voice-over.

If you can't solve an iMovie issue in your groups after searching online, I can facilitate.

Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remix assignment

Grade 9 Students,

The GarageBand file to use is in the StudyWiz gallery called 'Remix Assignment'.
Here are the instructions:

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Superstition - Stevie Wonder

Grade 7 Students,

You have listened to SonnyMoon for Two and figured out the riff and what pentatonic minor scale it is. You have soloed for twenty seconds and put the recording into the StudyWiz gallery.

For example, your mp3 title would be 'Chris SonnyMoon riff'
'Chris SonnyMoon solo'

You have listened to Moanon' and figured out the two riffs and what pentatonic minor scale it is. You have soloed for twenty seconds and put that recording into the StudyWiz gallery

For example, your mp3 title would be 'Chris Moanin' riff'
'Chris Moanin' solo'

Now, listen to Stevie Wonder's Superstition.  Figure out how to play the riff. Record it and put it into the gallery. Then, record a twenty second solo and put that into the gallery, too.

For example, your mp3 title would be 'Chris Superstition riff'
'Chris Superstition solo'

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Henry Giroux on Bill Moyers

Henry Giroux was interviewed by Bill Moyers recently. He has some words to say about education at about the fifteen minute mark.

Mr. Kozak

David Suzuki's Carbon Manifesto

For those of you who wonder why I changed my theme...

Dr. David Suzuki's Carbon Manifesto.

Mr. Kozak

A critique of Common Core

This high school student speaks very eloquently against Common Core standards.

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sonnymoon for Two - vocal ad lib


Here's a guy ad libbing/soloing/improvising with the Sonnymoon for Two melody/riff/lick/head.

Mr. Kozak

Why Improvise?!

Grade 7 Students,

Millions of musicians have spent their lives improvising. Obviously, there must be some reason that people continue this activity, teachers teach it, and music lovers buy the music.

After researching, in your Music Journal, answer the question:

What is the value in knowing how to improvise?

Make the font 22 point so I can find it easily.

Mr. Kozak


Sonnymoon for Two - Sonny Rollins melody and improvisation assignment

Grade 7 Students,

Today you will listen to the Sonny Rollins tune 'Sonnymoon for Two'. 

Record ONLY the melody/tune/head of the song by listening carefully. Use a USB keyboard with GarageBand. Export your song to the StudyWiz gallery called 'Sonnymoon for Two' and title it (i.e.) 'Chloe Sonnymoon melody'

Improvise for twenty seconds in the key of Sonnymoon for Two. Record your solo and upload the mp3 to the same StudyWiz gallery called 'Sonnymoon for Two' and title it (i.e.) 'Chloe Sonnymoon solo 1'. 

Mr. Kozak

Monday, November 18, 2013

Grade 6 Rehearsal questions

Grade 6,

Please answer these questions in your Music Journal.

Tell me:
Why was there a rehearsal?
What did you do for the rehearsal?
When, where, and what time was the rehearsal?
How did you feel before the rehearsal ?How did you feel after the rehearsal? Do you feel the same?

Did you have any difficulties during the rehearsal? What were they?

Mr. Kozak

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Four Chord song-keyboard


Here are the chords for the four chord song on keyboards:
Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grade 9 Today (November 13, 2013

- Define “arpeggio’ in your Music Journal
- Complete your arpeggio. Upload to StudyWiz. In your Music Journal, tell me what notes you played.
- Complete your ethereal arpeggio. Upload to StudyWiz.
- If your arpeggio was major, make a new one in minor, or vise versa
Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moanin' - sheet music

Grade 7,

Here is the sheet music for the first two phrases on the keyboard for 'Moanin'" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers:

Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, November 6, 2013



Here's what we covered in class today. Make sure to answer the questions in your Music Journal.

Mr. Kozak

Songs of Diridum


That website with the Lego-like characters is here

Listen carefully when you move around and you'll notice the sound getting louder or softer depending on where you are in relation to the stage. Also, it will move from right to left (that's called panning) depending on which direction you're facing.

Remember to try it on the open-source browser, Firefox.

Mr. Kozak

Amazing Music Site! - BBC Bitesize


This BBC site is a wonderful resource for learning about the elements of music, listening to samples of music, music history, popular music, and world music. It's chat board is changing formats to a blog, so stay tuned. I highly recommend it.

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Grade 7 Students,

Read the wikipedia article about Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Take notes in your Music Journal. Remember the 5Ws.

Listen to 2 songs and put those titles in your Music Journal. Use the elements of Music to explain the song (i.e. tempo, meter, instruments).

Most importantly, listen to "Moanin" and be able to play the F minor pentatonic scale!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fair Trade chocolate and music


Halloween will soon be here, and that means lots of people will be buying chocolate to give out.

Unfortunately, most chocolate is not fair trade.

Watch this informative video to find out more about what fair trade is and why you should make this year a fair trade Halloween year.

Listen to the melody of the Ghanian instruments. You'll be humming the tune by the end of the video.
Mr. Kozak

The San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra


Learning about classical music can be a little bit scary. There's so much to know about the history of the music, different composers, and sometimes the music can be less exciting than pop music.

Take a look at the San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra website for kids. Write in you Music Journal about whether you think it's too childish for you, but see if you can use it to learn something new about the symphony. 

If the site seems like it's not your level, then check out their regular site. Make notes in your journal about:
- what music they are playing in the future
- how many players are in the symphony

Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Adjectives to describe music - websites

This website as well as this one are great, wonderful, exemplary, outstanding websites to build your vocabulary to talk about music.

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

GarageBand Pro Tip #1 - Locking curves to regions

Grade 6,

I love GarageBand for it's flexibility. I really love when my creative ideas are possible with the software. For example, if you wanted to put a sound at the beginning of your project, you have to move all of your tracks to the right. No problem, unless you changed the panning or volume, SO... you have to go to the Control menu and click 'Lock Automation Curves to Regions':

Is that awesome or what?
Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yellow Submarine - compare and contrast

Grade 9 Students,

Since we can't get into the lab today due to MAP tests, you are going to watch the first bit of a movie called "Yellow Submarine". It has been rated 96% on Rotten Tomatoes - extremely high - so I think you need to understand it's cultural and artistic significance.

After watching about 45 minutes, I want you to compare it to another animated movie you've seen. Hopefully, this will make your Music Journal response original and individual, as I want you to think about how this might be the same as and different to something you know from recent memory.

For example, how can you compare:
- the style of animation
- the soundtrack
- the story
- the type of music
- the era it was made?

I look forward to reading your comparisons.

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sound to Music Journal Writing

Grade 6 Students,

Make sure to upload your mp3 into the StudyWiz gallery called 6MUS-U1-Sound to Music GarageBand song gallery.

When you've finished uploading, listen to your classmates' songs and write in your Music Journal. What should you write??!!!

Write in full sentences something that you liked about the song and why. Was it the beat, the tempo, the melody, the dynamics, the panning, the animal sound - explain yourself.

Also, write wat YOU would change to make the song better and why.

Mr. Kozak

GarageBand Export to mp3 tutorial


In case you missed it, here's how to export your GarageBand project to mp3.
Mr. Kozak

Music Theory - Interval Identification


By now, you should be able to understand how certain intervals sound, like the unison, octave, and Perfect 5th. Here is your task for the next few classes.

In the Exercises section, find INTERVAL IDENTIFICATION. Customize the exercise so that your menu looks like this:

If it gets too easy, go back to the customize menu and add more intervals.

Listen, listen, listen! Don't forget to research songs for interval recognition (see other post).

We'll have a quiz when I get back.
Mr. Kozak


Songs for Interval Recognition

Grade 8,

While you practice playing intervals on the keyboard, you should be using that great music theory website we all love (see post bellow).

Don't forget, there is a list of songs to help you remember intervals. Make sure to listen to the first song in each list on the left hand side.

Good luck while I'm away. We'll have a quiz when I get back.
Mr. Kozak

Magic GarageBand tip


Although we have been practicing the A minor pentatonic scale, when you use Blues in Magic GarageBand, set your project to E minor.

All the other styles (e.g. reggae, country, roots rock, slow blues, latin, etc.) should be okay in A minor.

Keep practising!

Mr. Kozak

Thursday, September 12, 2013



Next class, you will solo using the A minor pentatonic scale. After some practice, you should be able to:

- use the swing rhythm (long-short-long-short, etc.)
- know the five scale notes up and down the whole keyboard
- use passing tones (the black keys between the notes of the scale)

Your partner will comp.

Comping is short for accompany. They will alternate playing the A minor chord with their left hand (pinky on A, middle finger on C, thumb on E) and shift to G Major (G, B, D).

Don't forget to count the swing rhythm in your head - 

one AND two AND three AND four AND

Mr. Kozak

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Interval ear training


The best website for ear training is music We are training our ears to hear different intervals - the spaces between two notes. In the exercises, find interval ear training, and customize the exercise to only have unison, octave, major 3rd, perfect 4th, and perfect 5th.

After you get 80% from 30 questions, add minor 2nd, minor 3rd, and the Tritone.

This takes patience. You will improve the more you listen.

Mr. Kozak

Tuesday, September 3, 2013



Here's a good visual example of dynamics. Can you tell when the music is quiet? Can you tell when it would be loud?

This is from Wagner's 'Rienzi', an opera written in 1840.

The A minor pentatonic scale


Now you know the names of the five notes to play (A, C, D, E, G). You also know the mnemonic device used to remember the lines and spaces of the staff (every good band deserves fudge and FACE).

You should be able to play the entire length of the keyboard an extended A minor pentatonic scale in the swing rhythm.

To play an interesting solo, you need to make a riff.
A riff is a short phrase of music only a few notes long. You need to compose one. We'll discuss this next class. Just remember to use the swing rhythm:

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Elements of Music

We will continue to listen to very different kinds of sounds while we study the nine elements of music: - tempo - beat - meter - rhythm - melody - harmony - dynamics - timbre - form
Memorize this list, be able to define these words, and be able to give an example.
Here is a slideshare to help you:

Mr. Kozak

Is that Music? Berio's Sequenza for Voice


We listened to some audio that you might not have thought was music. Remember the Sequenza for Voice by Berio? Click the orange play button to listen to this 30-second sample:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Since we have studied movie themes, it is time for you to compose your own leitmotif. 

In the Oxford dictionary, it states that a leitmotif is:

‘a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation’.

That's right, you have to compose a leitmotif that is associated with you. You only have to play it, not notate it, but there are some examples bellow.

Rubric coming very soon...

For now, here is here is Princess Leia's leitmotif:

and here is Obi Wan Kenobi's leitmotif:

America - West Side Story - NOT a Hemiola


Like the wikipedia article says, the song 'America' by Leonard Bernstein from the musical West Side Story is NOT a hemiola. That is when you play a simple and compound meter at the same time, like this:
In the case of 'America', simple and compound meter alternates bars of 6/8 and bars of 3/4:
Next class, we will all perform a hemiola using our knees. With our right hand, we will accent simple time and with our left hand we will accent compound time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Imperial March played by The Vancouver Symphony


Here is the Vancouver Symphony (being conducted by Bramwell Tovey) playing the famous Imperial March from the movie Star Wars, composed by one of the most famous and prolific film composers, John Williams.

This "Darth Vader theme" is an excellent example of how a composer can use music to make the character more real - Darth Vader not just looks evil with the black robot helmet and cape, but sounds evil, powerful, and destructive.

Power is provided by a symphony orchestra - one hundred musicians playing forte
Evil-sounding - the minor key of the piece sounds ominous and dark

There is no question, Darth Vader is a bad guy. Just in case you've never seen the very first, original Star Wars (1977), here is a great montage of Darth Vader using the Imperial March.

What is improvisation?


We talked about what improvisation is (and what it isn't) and listed some examples (like cooking without a recipe, moments in sports without using a play, (comedy skits made up on the fly) and we watched Gabriela Montero make up a new song on the spot.

After that we watched Dave Morris talk about how to teach improvisation. Remember the rules:
- You must be willing to play!
- You must be willing to fail!
- Failing does not make you a failure!
- Say 'yes'!
- Say 'and'!
- Play the game!
- Relax and have fun!