I have a new material prototype up called the Martyrie & Fthores Cards. Dr. Nick Giannoukakis taught me the Fthores (modulations between modes within a hymn) over three years ago but my ear wasn't good enough at that point to do much with them. I knew this at the time so I didn't take the time to memorize them. I think I probably could have studied them a year ago but the whole high lead levels issue put me back quite a bit. I also felt like I should go in order in creating the materials and needed to get other materials done first.
But...the time has come, the time is now! I created prototypes a few months ago and taught myself the symbols in twenty minutes or so. It took me much longer to actually be able to chant the fthores with ease, but I am very happy with my progress in the past two months.
New Additions to the website
I have created a tab in the main menu called "Self Study". I am still working on adding content but basically I explain how to go about studying byzantine notation on your own; what materials to use, when and how to learn certain skills etc. While I don't recommend going this route I know that not all people can find teachers. I will continue adding to this page in the coming weeks.
I have shared part of one of the documents that I referred to in my last post on the Level 2 Repertoire page. The doc shows the order that I recommend teaching the Brief Stichera Verses from vespers. It is in table format so that teachers can keep track of what they cover each week.
I have started another weekly class with some homeschoolers, We had our first lesson last week via Google Hangouts. I think I was using too much band width so I couldn't see them for over half of the lesson but it worked out just fine. I will be doing extensive training with the mom over a three day period before the SMI and it's possible that she will take over teaching her children since she loves to teach as well. I will also be holding a one day workshop at Holy Cross Antiochian Church in Dorr, Mi at the end of June and will be teaching during the small group breakout sessions at the Sacred Music Institute this year. I'm really looking forward to playing some games and helping people accelerate their learning!
Trial by Fire
This weekend I led services since our protopsalti was out of town and our second in command recently became a dad. Instead of the 8-10 chanters that we usually have at matins it was myself, another chanter and the visiting seminarian. On top of it being the feast of Pentecost, we found out late Saturday night that we would be starting matins late and doing a typica service (picture me at 10:30 trying to find the text for a typica since I couldn't remember a single thing about it:) It all turned out fine but was a little stressful at first.
I was very thankful not to be chanting by myself. I have a really poor auditory memory and sometimes my mind blanks out for how some of the responses should sound. Luckily the other chanter that was there knows the services well and has a great memory for this. The seminarian provided a solid and much needed solo ison for us and did some of the free syling for Pentecost.
The last time I led was in the fall and it was also one of the major feasts. I had the pleasure of celebrating it twice as I was asked to lead a vesperal liturgy on Friday night at a nearby church. Then our church celebrated the feast on Saturday morning with matins and liturgy. I also chanted my first wedding that afternoon. I was fried after that weekend :) Despite this, I am happy to help out when needed. Maybe the next time it could be a nice, normal service and not a trial by fire!
I'During the past few months I have been trying out some new games with my students and changing some of the old games. The way I was using the Ni Pa Vou cards was heavily influenced by the games from Music Mind Games to teach western music. I have made a lot of changes to bring the games more in line with the structure of byzantine chant music. The new games really seem to be supporting my students ability to sight read better.
I have also been working on transferring some Word documents into Google Docs as I would like to share them on the website but need to keep making changes to them. I have completed a doc with the games in levels 1 and 2 listed in table form so that teachers can keep track of what games they play at each lesson (coming soon). I have also been working on a doc that outlines which games to play when (coming soon). Teachers can use this document as a rough outline (some games may need to be repeated) for their lessons. The third doc is the curriculum guide for the whole program (already available). Next I'll be working on the instructions for all of the games. Some of the games' instructions are available on the website but I would like to have a comprehensive document that teachers can print out.
I started working on some videos but quickly realized that I couldn't make one video that would serve the needs of chanters wanting to use the materials to teach and those wanting to use the materials to teach themselves (and/or their children). The videos geared to chanters that already know the subject matter will be much easier to create so I have decided to do those first. I have chanters that contacted me three or four years ago and I feel bad that I don't have more done for them. After that I will work on videos geared to homeschooling families and online learners.
I have really been dragging my feet on the videos and the marketing/selling of materials because those things aren't my forte. Your prayers would be much appreciated. This fall my three children will be in school all day so I am hoping to get a lot accomplished, especially these two things. I have asked some friends for help with the business side of things so hopefully that will help move things along.
Finally, another reason that I decided to do the videos geared to chanters first is that I feel a little uncomfortable making instructional videos for learners online. I have always told myself that I want to chant well enough so as not to embarrass myself:) I would feel better having more outside confirmation so I have set the goal to take the Certificate Exam through Holy Cross next May.
Since I rarely lead services at St. George I have had no real necessity pushing me to learn and I have taken things pretty slowly, developing the materials as I go. This has been a blessing but I feel that it would be good to study harder now. Hopefully my health and schedule will allow for that.
When I wrote here last I thought that I could get a lot done on ByzB in April, May and June. Then I realized I needed to build a chicken coop from scratch, do some major work in our yard, go on vacation for two weeks and finish a large festal icon by the end of June. So, I didn't have as much time for ByzB as I had hoped.
Out vacation was lovely. We spent a few days camping in the Smoky Mountains on our way down to Florida (and made stops in Atlanta to see friends and Chip's aunt). In Florida we spent most of our time in the pool or at the beach and the kids had a blast. On our way back we visited our god-daughter and the rest of her family in Poqouson, VA. Her dad is the priest at St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church and it was great to catch up with them on Sunday and see the building that the parishioners have been remodeling for two years.
SAHM by day; ByzB curriculum developer by night. My career was in teaching: kindergarten, first grade, bilingual reading, Suzuki piano, and Music Mind Games. Now I paint icons and spend lots of time making materials on the computer. My greatest joy is directing my students in their learning. This blog documents the process and provides a space for my other ramblings as well.