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“Multisensory Music Making: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

Digital Story Title:

“Multisensory Music Making: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

 Brief description:

This digital story will showcase a revolutionary approach for helping musicians connect with music in ways that go beyond the notes on the page. Referred to as “multisensory music-making,” musicians interact with a combination of visual and auditory stimuli to inspire new concepts about the music they are learning.  Through this approach, musicians learn to connect with music on a deeper level and to expand their range of emotional and expressive playing.  This digital story will feature live footage of music students from George Mason University demonstrating the techniques used in this approach. 

 Main goal(s):

 This digital story will seek new ways of creating expression through the multisensory approach.  By showing the impact of music and images together and the ways they can inform the music making process, this digital story will invite viewers to experience multisensory music making as well.  Students and teachers of music will gain insight into how this approach works and the ways in which is draws upon more emotional and expressive playing throughout the creative process. 

Who is your intended audience?

This film should appeal to both music students and teachers.  Students will benefit from watching the progress of the students throughout the film and the ways in which they interact with music through this approach.  It should encourage other students to learn to express music in this way.   

Teachers will benefit from the techniques that are used in this approach to better acclimate students to the creative process of making music.  Because expression is so intangible and connecting to music beyond the notes on the page is a challenge for high school and college students, teachers will gain insight into this process as well as tangible ways for helping students create more expressive musical products. 


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While I did gather a good deal of information on the intricacies and complexities of copyright law, I was still missing a focus on the importance of sharing work and extending its value through the contributions of others.   As we near the stages of completion in our own digital stories, we can certainly see the value in protecting our work and ensuring that we have properly credited the resources from which we drew throughout the creative process.   Beyond that, however; the fees, penalties, and restrictions seem to hinder the freedom of creation.  Rather than focus on the creative process, we are left to run every source through the “usability” test to ensure that we are able to use certain material in our final product.   

To quote from an earlier post, I believe that digital stories come to life through, “… collaborative narratives [that] come to life through an organic and ongoing process of interactivity; its users create and recreate the components and structure of a never-ending story.  Stories exist beyond the finality of words on paper to the endless imagination of its revolving creators.”  Copyright law’s many restrictions and constraints prevent the interactive process from truly thriving.  In a digital world, stories live through countless mediums and the voices of many.  The creative process is such that one person’s idea becomes the focus of another becomes the controversy of another becomes the comic relief of another. The availability of ideas and the freedom to rework and rethink ideas allows the interactive process of storytelling to exist and thus ensures a future of collaborative thinking and creating.  Initiatives such as “open access” and “creative common sense” prove important tools for ensuring the path to the open exchange of creative ideas remains intact.

Progress and challenges

At this point, I have already captured about six hours of footage, including the first round of interviews and the one-to-one multisensory lessons.  I have pulled out themes from the collective interviews and moved footage to corresponding files labeled with those themes.  This has helped me to synthesize the most important comments from each student and to better capture the most the essence of each question.  The camera work for the interviews was very easy as I simply put the camcorder on the tripod and hit record.  

The challenge has come about with regard to the camera work in the multisensory lessons.  Because I am trying to capture the student playing, as well as what is on the projector screen, as well as interact with the student it is difficult just to leave the camcorder on the tripod.  I found that I have to hold it and move around, which makes editing difficult because there is so much moving around on the screen.  I am trying to find ways around this by simply moving the camera around on the tripod just to change the angles from time to time. 

Tomorrow night I am having the students interact with the multisensory approach in a master class setting with other students and faculty, and I am looking forward to the feedback provided by the audience members.  In general, editing is taking quite a bit of time, but I am learning to work between Windows Movie Maker and Corel Video Pro.


“Stories are now open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable.”  This statement seems most representative of the newest role of storytelling in an interactive environment. Stories have evolved from the pages of a book and the words of the orator’s mouth to the digital world’s landscape of possibility.  Stories now exist to unite the collective thoughts of many voices and perspectives on a particular topic or event.  These collaborative narratives come to life through an organic and ongoing process of interactivity; its users create and recreate the components and structure of a never-ending story.  Stories exist beyond the finality of words on paper to the endless imagination of its revolving creators.  The ability to navigate a story through images, archives, artifacts, oral histories, etc also adds an emotional connection to the story which may or may not have been easily evoked through words or text.  The 9/11 archive is a compelling example for this type of emotional connection; offering those who were not directly connected to the event the opportunity to experience the depth and profound impact it had on our country.  In this way, stories can be viewed, felt, experienced, and remembered, rather than heard, read, and forgotten.   

With regard to academic writing and argument, it seems the digital environment elicits a greater exploration beyond text.  What is investigated and laid out in scholarly writing requires a deeper examination and a different kind of preparation to turn into images or an interactive experience.  One example is the interactive reading wall.  While the original content for the wall was derived from academic writing and scholarly preparation, it is the presentation of the material that reaches a higher intellect and deeper emotional level. Participants can immerse themselves in the material at their own pace, focusing on the elements that speak to them the most.  Academic writing may only lend itself to a particular audience of other academic writers and scholars.  A digital environment opens up the material to a larger audience and engages those who may not have otherwise felt compelled to do so.  How many people would rather navigate a reading wall versus sitting in library reading a dusty old text book?

“Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

“Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

My idea pitch is grounded in the following questions:  (1) How can music students create more fulfilling performance experiences; (2) In what ways can teachers renew students’ passion for music; and, (3) How can students reach performance states of profound creativity and total freedom.  To answer these questions, my exploration will begin with the lives of music students and whether or not they are on paths to becoming budding artists, or expert students.  A snapshot of the day-to-day lives of music students will reveal how their habits, attitudes, and methods of preparation are positively or negatively affecting their performance experiences, and ultimately their capabilities as artists.  This part of the exploration will highlight the various performance preparation strategies students are currently using and possible disconnects between preparation and the actual performance.  Live video footage of students in practice rooms, performances, master classes, lessons, and rehearsals will comprise the visual component of this part of the story.  A voice-over analysis will provide an overall impression of daily lives of music students.  Quotes from students in reference to their experiences will also be included in this portion for a more authentic feel. 

The second piece will showcase a revolutionary method for engaging students in the performance experience. Referred to as “multisensory music-making,” musicians experience music through a variety of sensory modalities, including visual imagery, aural stimuli, emotional engagement, and cognitive assessment.  Through the art of multisensory music-making, students will learn to cultivate the skills for creating fulfilling performance experiences.  Live video footage will feature student demonstrations of the multisensory approach, as well as interviews with teachers, students, and audience members discussing the effectiveness of the approach with regard to creating enriching performances and its implications for teaching and learning.    

Through this approach, students will learn how to think beyond the notes on the page to the music in their hearts.  They will cultivate the skills for performance preparation that affords them a musically fulfilling experience. 

The educational implications for this approach will urge teachers to think and rethink the ways in which they are preparing students for careers in music. Are students in training to become expert students, or budding artists?  How can multisensory music-making help students understand music at deeper levels, connect with the audience on emotional levels, and venture beyond the walls of the institution to the concert halls of life.

Cultivate Curiosity

I really enjoyed this process.  I’ve spent a few days experimenting with the different options and  found it to be a useful tool for exploring the early stages of digital storytelling.  At this point, I am eager to find out how to change the pacing/images, etc to create an even more personalized story. 

I did a piece on the cultivation of curiosity.  I feel this to be the strongest component of teaching and learning.  If we are taught to experience life through a lens of curiosity and carry this into the classroom, we could create an atmosphere of continuous exploration and learning.

Cultivate Curiosity

Category: W5: Animoto  2 Comments
Murder at Harvard

In an interview with Schama, he was asked what he found most compelling about Parkman’s story.  He replied that, like history, it had so many loose ends, and little of a conclusion. In the film, Murder at Harvard, this perception is magnified through the interplay between the dramatic content and narrative speculation regarding Parkman’s disappearance.  In the absence of the narrative interludes, the story portrays a typical murder mystery plot with enough twists and turns to keep the viewer’s interest.  However, the narrative speculations of historians and scholars add another layer of intrigue that extends beyond temporary interest to a genuine inquisitiveness on the viewer’s part.  The additional context of the testimonials creates an atmosphere of historical incongruence that is more intriguing than a standard mystery plot because of the lingering questions and questionable assumptions. 

This intellectual engagement is what makes this film quite different from the book.  It encourages the viewer to regard the components of the story, the history within the story, and the impact of the story contextually for a more complete account of the events that took place.  Furthermore, it requires the viewer to become an active participant in the process of history and of storytelling.  One thought is that history is a series of stories that come together through the voices and perspectives of many people, both involved with and removed from the actual events.  If viewed in this way, Schama speaks to the very essence of history, which like a murder mystery, is filled with holes, inconclusive evidence, and much left to the imagination.

The Storm

Category: W3: 5 Photos  2 Comments
“Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures”

“Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures”

 “….Because I have autism, I live by concrete rules instead of abstract beliefs.  And because I have autism, I think in pictures and sounds…Here’s how my brain works:  It’s like the search engine Google for images.  If you say the word “love” to me, I’ll surf the Internet inside my brain.  Then, a series of images pop into my head.  What I’ll see is a picture of a mother horse with a foal; or I think of ‘Herbie, the Love Bug’; scenes from the movie Love Story; or the Beatles song “Love, love, all you need is love….Some people think if I could snap my fingers I’d choose to be ‘normal.’ But, I wouldn’t want to give up my ability to see in beautiful, precise pictures.  I believe in them” (pp. 87-88)

This excerpt is taken from the book This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.  The book is a compilation of the personal stories of thousands of individuals who were given the task of writing a few hundred words expressing the core principles that guide their life, something like a personal credo.  The excerpt above, “Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures,” is from the personal story of Temple Grandin, associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University.  The story itself is intriguing because it illuminates a world with which many of us are unfamiliar: the autistic mind.  It draws us into the author’s personal life, his personal thoughts, and compels us to linger on his words momentarily only to turn the page with a sympathetic sigh.    

Now, imagine the words as spoken through the calm and warm voice of the author, his narration accompanied by a tender piano melody faintly playing in the background.  Photographs of him as a young boy watching his parents kissing, petting a big, fluffy dog, and smiling from inside Herbie the Love Bug fade in and out revealing to us what love looks and feels like to a young boy with autism.  Our investment is now emotional and perhaps permanent because the images of this happy, young boy experiencing love and living his life through “beautiful, precise pictures” ask us to think beyond the words on the page, beyond the word autism, to the person living with it.    

Digital storytelling is a communicative tool for those who have powerful stories to tell and the limitless possibilities of digital media to help bring them to life.  The best stories take only moments to come to life and through the use of photography, video-making techniques, hand-drawn images, vocal inflection, musical accompaniment, sound and special effects can transport the viewer to a particular time and place as seen through the storyteller’s eyes.  Collectively, digital stories create sort of a cultural landscape that presents itself to us in unexpected ways; ways that encourage us to reexamine the world around us and pay more attention to the “beautiful, precise pictures” that surround us.

Jenny Lapple (DST: The Day Nobody Died)

The Day Nobody Died 

 After searching through dozens of digital stories, it was this particular title that caught my attention and a stream of questions that kept it. Was this a near-death experience? Who experienced it? Where did it happen? What were the circumstances? Before I even hit play, I was already emotionally invested in this story.  

In seconds my questions were answered…”things didn’t go as planned…I was out of position and had to act fast…a blinding flash and a loud bang…” At this point the narrator does something very interesting in that he switches from this technical description to a physical one: “…it felt like electricity was running through my body…everything seemed to fade into the distance…” One moment I was watching the situation from above and the next I was feeling it from within. Meanwhile, images of gun shots, a lightning bolt, and the photograph of the proud officer and narrator, Michael Thompson, fade in and out of sight for a compelling visual portrayal of the story. 

 Then, the descriptive details become even more poignant and the viewer is drawn deeper into the experience, as though it were happening at this very moment. “…something about my blood mixing with filth disturbed me…” he said, and “…the nauseating smell of burnt gun powder and the tearing sensation throughout…” made me shudder as I listened. The visual accompaniment to the narrative was that of a recognition ceremony honoring the officer. Remarkably, even though I knew from this footage he would survive this experience, the horror of the descriptive details coupled with my imagination kept me locked in the situation fearing the worst. 

His partner is then heard making a frantic call to the station screaming “…cop down, cop down!” The commotion mixed with the eerie composure of the narrator’s voice was unsettling and jarring. I felt torn and restless and perhaps exactly as he had wanted. What happens next is similar to a montage sequence in a Tarantino film: flickering flashes of his life, a dry news report recounting the incident, and the narrator’s unwavering voice pulling him through his last moments of life. 

 The narrator pulls through in the end and images of angels, serene clouds, and shining light restore the peace once again. The collaboration of visual imagery and symbolism, live footage, and a slightly detached vocal narrative all held together by a slightly agitated rock song circling around the words “nobody died” create an unforgettable portrait of one man’s encounter with a near-death experience.  

 This digital story is available at