The following was written by Prince Charles Alexander, associate professor of music production and engineering.
Hello everyone. This is my second blog from Malaysia and the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. Monday, August 19, the actual workshops began. There were four workshops each day and the schedule roughly followed the following outline.
9:30 a.m. Registration of Participants
10:00 a.m. Workshop 1
11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
11:45 a.m. Workshop 2
1:00 p.m. Lunch Break
2:00 p.m. Workshop 3
3:30 p.m. Tea Break
3:45 p.m. Workshop 4
5:00 p.m. Close
Susan Lindsay started us off by speaking to ICOM’s (International College of Music) faculty about online learning, learning management systems, and content management systems. Jeanine Cowen contributed to the conversation from the curriculum point of view and these workshops were attended by roughly 15 of the ICOM faculty. I learned that Sue is a dynamic force behind the scenes of our online initiatives at Berklee and definitely someone to reach out to for any concerns with online course creation and management. After the workshops, the faculty took us out for dinner before we retired for the night.
Tuesday’s topic was the application of music technology in the classroom led by Dr. Cecil Adderley. Some 54 secondary school teachers and eight or so International College of Music (ICOM) faculty were in attendance for these workshops, which looked at using Finale and Sibelius in the classroom. Cecil explored Finale in front of the class and, once again, I came away feeling enhanced by the information available from my colleagues on this trip.
I did the third workshop and prepared a lecture on music education and the DAW that culminated in a performance of Bruno Mars’s “If I Was Your Man” on MIDI keyboard Elastic Audio-ed to various tempos (for the keyboard challenged), and a full score generated by my MIDI version of Larry Graham’s composition “Hair.” I also took advantage of a photo opportunity with the deputy minister of education in Malaysia and did a version of “Night In Tunisia” on acoustic piano. He accompanied me with the tonic note on the seventh beat of each 2-bar phrase. It was a lot of fun, made even more fun because he finally actually hit the tonic on the very last note of the song. A blast! Jeanine Cowen finished the day off with setting up a basic PA system for school concert programs.
Day three’s workshops were all Cecil and the title of the day was Rehearsing a Concert Band. The faculty members that were in attendance on day two brought their instruments and after a morning lecture explaining the challenges and repertoire of concert band directors in U.S. schools, Cecil got the musicians on stage to go through a few pieces of music. This was awesome to watch and Dr. Adderley generously called on various faculty members to conduct the ensemble. They eventually achieved cohesion and some of the conducting styles were animated and entertaining. Cecil and Jeanine joined the ICOM CEO Irene Savaree after the final workshop to present the attending secondary school teachers with certificates of participation that will benefit them in their local districts.
After Cecil’s workshops, we were taken out to Central Market for a rousing round of shopping, complete with a bit of durian candy. Durian is the King of Fruit in Malaysia and is a highlight of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern’s shows on Malaysia. It reeks to high heaven but is actually a sweet and mushy fruit. The candy definitely had the smell because it lasted in my mouth for all of two seconds before I felt like my mouth had been invaded. Our hostess, Irene, has a durian farm and loves the fruit. I’ll give you more on that in my last blog. We ate dinner in a very native feeling part of town near Central Market complete with rat tail noodles that were actually only noodles that looked like a rat’s tail, but that was enough to prevent Sue from wanting any. It was only noodles Sue, and it was pretty good. I’d like to give a big shout out to Nilesh, Lindsey, and Akihito for that night out on the town.
Day four, it’s showtime for me. I led a workshop on production, another one on technology and another on innovation and hip-hop for Malaysian music industry professionals. They were all very young and some ICOM students were also sprinkled amongst them. My production workshop put emphasis on creative vision and likened the producer to the director of a film. They were told that empowering yourself with audio skills enables creative vision to come to fruition. Creative vision, technical proficiency, and business acumen were the three pillars that I built the production workshop from. I dug even further into technology in my second session, prefaced by a distribution, marketing, and promotion talk that spilled over from the first workshop of the day. The technology piece took them through the analog signal chain and then it was time for lunch and two interviews from the local press. I was asked questions while seated at the piano by one journalist, and while seated in the administrative boardroom for the second journalist. We explored the 18-year relationship between ICOM and Berklee and I made sure that Irene’s passion for nation building made it into my responses.
When we came back from lunch I created a song by sampling and merging two Malaysian compositions with a French composition. I then added a rap and used the audience for my chorus. It was loads of fun, but this was only the intro to my innovation and hip-hop workshop. I took the class from Notation through Drum Machines, Sequencing, Sampling, and back to Notation in this workshop designed to look at what innovation could possibly look like in Malaysia. And along the way, Sue Lindsay rapped the entire first section of “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang before she handed the mic back to me. Who knew? Go Sue, with your bad self! I ended the day in the recording studio doing a mixing clinic for a select few industry insiders while Jeanine did a gaming workshop in the main hall. The mixing was all done “in the box” and I explored EQ, compression, panning, serial processing, parallel processing, and the importance of using VU and PPM metering across the stereo bus. And then it was time to shop and eat some more.
We went to the Digital Mall and I picked up a zoom lens for my Nikon camera, which definitely came in handy for the next day, our sightseeing day. We then ate a final workshop meal at a Brazilian restaurant and were given some final parting gifts by Irene Savaree. What a whirlwind adventure, what great people to share it with, and what great hostesses and hosts we had at the 2013 Berklee Workshops at ICOM!! But it’s not over because blog 3 will contain our sightseeing adventure in Melaka (the old city), and our journey home. Until then!