Monday 13 April 2020

APRIL 13th

All courses have been updated with assignments for the remainder of the year.  See the drop down menus above (on the website homepage).  Please take your time and read through/ watch the posted items and follow the instructions.  If anything is unclear or you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get back to me -

Don't forget to mark you calendars on June 18th for our first ever Westwood H.O.N.K.

Monday 6 April 2020

APRIL 6th - Band at Home

Students and parents - welcome back from the break.

Grab a beverage and get comfy as there is a lot here to digest.

I sincerely hope you had some time to sit back and enjoy yourself. For me it was a time of reflection.  In order for me to move forward with our classes, I spent a lot of time ruminating on the essence of our band program.  I strongly believe that the essence of what we do has a lot to do with making music together (team work), listening,  interacting, learning about its creation and the people who created it.  Whether we realize it or not, we are a strong community (team) based program, where each individual literally plays their part and as a result of some crazy mad teamwork we are better and stronger as a group.  (If you're really interested in this idea, check out the philosophical concept of holism)

A Mining Metaphor:

Throughout this week I will be implementing what may seem like some major changes to our program. 

If we follow the essence of band (in bold above) as a miner would follow an ore body, we would all agree that data from the dig dictates the direction of the shaft.  Thus, any changes we make to band class must be based on the data we have.  In that spirit, we are going to mine that idea to see where it takes us... and trust me it takes a team to build a mine and maintain its operation.  Following this metaphor, I am imaging our classroom as an active mine and the students as team as an "old time" miners armed with a pick-axe, shovel and a wee bit of ingenuity.  We are going to do our best with all the available resources at our disposal to figure out where to dig in a way that will give us the best yield.  And, just like all the miner's who have come before us, we may inevitably after a lot of work, abandon that shaft and try a new direction in search of a better ore body that will hopefully lead us to the motherlode.


1.  There was a section here about getting a ZOOM account.  The school division is no longer supporting educators and students using this platform so we will be switching to Skype.  Old article is below for reference only.

Everybody needs to activate a Zoom account.  Why Zoom?  After a load of research over the break and chatting with colleagues across the continent, it would appear that Zoom works consistently across all platforms, devices and desktops - and at this moment, seems to be the best platform out there for our needs. This will be our primary method of live communication and there are going to be times when meeting together over the next three months where we will all want to talk about what we have found and how it will guide our decision making.  No, we will not be making music this way.  I cannot find a single example on the entire planet where this has been successful on any platform... I can; however, find may examples of the disaster of an online band class (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.).  We are simply going to use it as a way to talk together, check in on each other as a way to quickly and effectively share ideas of the successes and failures as we try to complete our assignments.  This is now a part of our course just like regular class-time and students will want to meet with us at the times suggested as we will be talking in detail about the projects you will be doing to complete the year. 

2.  Written Reflection (Get it?  The picture above is a reflection - hee hee smile) is a thing we do in our class. As you are all aware, it has been in place since you started in grade 9 and the dates for its submission were outlined in September. This is a quality assignment and its importance is not lost on us as it gives you an open line of communication that directly guides our learning.  Consequently, I felt it best to include this assignment as your last official "mark."  In order to facilitate this, I implemented a couple of changes that are educationally sound and driven by my mantra: what's best for students?  Changes:  No late marks will be deducted from this assignment, so if you have not got it in, let's do that regardless of the date (I will be contacting those of you that have not submitted your Written Reflection shortly to help you).  The due date was changed by three days to the 20th of March to align with the provincial mandate.  

3.  I will be adding two new drop down menus to our website to make it a bit easier to follow what classes are doing.  Next week you will find a "Concert Band Online" and a "Jazz Band Online" menu which will have area specific information for each class including assignments and a time-line for submission and due dates.

4.  Concerts?  Simply put - No.  I am heartbroken, as I am sure you all are.  As the days go on and we look at the data from around the world, this is just something that is not going to happen in the time we have left.  YES you will be playing.  No, you will not be playing the music we have been working on.  Major bummer.  Next week, following our mining metaphor,  I will be mapping out an alternate route for us to follow that still meets our needs and may very well give us an opportunity to share our music making in a virtual concert setting.  

5.  As you know, I do not have all the answers - in this unprecedented time, nobody does.   What I like about teaching is that I learn just as much from you as you do from me. With this idea as my guide, I will be setting out a series of assignments that will take us all the way to June.  In that, I have tried a few things, but some of these ideas simply may not work. Like our mining metaphor, it is very possible that we may dig hundreds of feet into the earth and find nothing. Besides just checking in on each other, our Zoom meetings will be a way for us to share some of the solutions we have found as we creatively complete our assignments so that we can all be successful.  WE ARE ALL STRONGER AS A TEAM. 

6.  How much "work" is enough? (I hesitate to call it homework, as isn't it really all just home work at this point?)  Looking at guidelines that have been posted around the world to help manage my expectations and make them as realistic as possible, I will be going with the idea of a MAX of 2 hours a week.  You may find that you are able to accomplish these assignments in less time or you may want to put in more.  To be specific, any time you will spend doing something for band would be a part of this 2 hours.  Downloading and researching an app., reading this small novella, getting staff paper writing out a part, figuring out away to solve a problem... whatever you are doing to forward your band learning it counts.  

7.  In accordance with the provincial mandate, assignments going forward from the 20th of March  will simply be pass/fail.  They will appear in the grade book as a check mark if the assignment is completed or missing if it is not.  If you do not complete the assignments, in accordance with the provincial mandate, course credit may be withheld. 

8.  Things that are to be submitted to me for a "check mark" in the grade book will be highlighted in blue from now on so you can easily pick out the assignment from all of this writing.


1.  Establish a ZOOM account.  I will be posting links (codes for our specific group chats) in the Drop down BAND/ JAZZ menus (that's how you join) later in the week and we will be meeting on ZOOM  in classes by Friday.  

   A.   When you have established and opened your ZOOM account, please email me at with the word: DONE!

Online "Etiquette" and Privacy are key.  Some things to think about before we meet.  Think of them as the must-do’s of online meeting etiquette:
  • Think about what you are wearing.  If it is inappropriate at school is inappropriate for our chat.
  • Don’t stare at your phone while other people are presenting - give each person speaking the same attention you would give them if they were right in front of you.
  • Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking (or attempt to speak over them)
  • Test all technology (including camera/video, Wi-Fi, and screen sharing) before the meeting
  • I don't want to see your bedroom. Think of your background before you activate your camera
  • Don’t work on other tasks (like checking email) during the virtual meeting
  • Turn off all notifications and make sure your cell phone is on silent
  • Make sure you you have told your family that you have a meeting and that you are in a quiet area free from unnecessary distractions.
  • Use headphones... preferably ones with a microphone.
  • For the first part of the meeting or class,  it will be best if you mute your microphone and just listen.  Then as the meeting goes on, and we all share, you will be invited to turn on your microphone.
  • will try my best to introduce everyone during the meeting, and if at all possible give everyone a chance to contribute - might be hard in symphonic band.
When in doubt, just practice common courtesy. People want to be heard, seen, and respected during an online meeting—just like they do everywhere else.
2.    I am slightly concerned about something called ZOOM Bombing where people can get our meeting access codes that are not involved in our classes and join our meeting and raise havoc. I will announce that I have posted the codes in the drop down menus by posting a picture of an instrument of some kind on instagram with a title of Mr. Edwards says (insert name of instrument).  That is our own special code so you know that I have put something in the drop down menu on the web site.  Keep your eyes out for the meeting times and PLEASE get that info into your section group chats as soon as you see it is posted. And obviously please do not share the codes with people not in our classes.

3.  I wanted to do a great team building assignment for this week to get you all used to collaborating online within your sections. My Idea was that you were all going to get Minecraft accounts and have to meet together in that virtual sandbox and complete a variety of tasks together... like Symphonic Band trombones have to build a massive T-Rex. One small problem... I thought Minecraft was free.  Nope. Mojang ain't like that. 

So I have come up with another plan.  A FREE plan. I would like you to connect with the members of your concert band section and play some UNO online.  Yes play UNO.  UNO mobile Fun Room supports up to 10 players at once, so it should accommodate even the most populated sections.  I am going to also recommend that you group chat on WhatsApp? while you play.  Makes for more fun and you can easily comment on the action.

NOTE:  If you do not have a device, you will have to kindly borrow your parents device for this one.

Never played?  Don't matter, it will walk you through it all.... super simple.

There is both the Android and an iOS version for devices available for free on Google Play and the App Store.  Links below if you need help.... and its FREE.


A.  Get familiar with ZOOM and be prepared to meet sometime Thursday or Friday.

B.  Set up a time in your group chat for a game within your concert band section using the UNO mobile app on Wednesday.  Play for about 30 min or 3 games so you have a good idea of what's going on. THEN.... challenge another section to a match on Friday.  Winner's get bragging rights!

C.  When you have completed the above (played 30 min or 3 games with your section and challenged another section), please have the section leader or a designated member from your section email me at with your section's answers to the following:

   a)  Which members from your section participated?(names please)
   b)  Which section did you challenge?
   c)  What did your section find was the most fun completing this this assignment?
   d)  What did your section think were the limitations and or frustrations?
   e)  Was any member of your section unable to participate? (name them) Why?
   f)   Is there anything I could have done to make this assignment better?
   g)  Do you have an suggestions for other multi-player games that would work if we tried this again?

Before you get all excited in your group chat, there's a FEW  STEPS you will have to do on your own before you can use the multi-player mode.  Thank goodness you will only have to do this the first time you use the App.

1.  Download the App if you do not already have it.

2.  When you open the app it will ask your age.... I think you can handle this one on your own.

3.  It will ask you to sign in - I suggest sign in as  GUEST

4.  Agree to terms

5.  Play the sample game to help you quickly learn the rules of game play.

6.  After the game is done follow the prompts.

7.  Choose and Avatar and a user name.  TO AVOID CONFUSION PLEASE USE YOUR REAL FIRST NAME!!!!!! 

8.  Follow the prompts to start your first game.... you must play this game to unlock the multi-player mode.

9.  After the Game follow the prompts to return to your Avatar.

10.  Click on the Avatar and you will be taken to a screen with and "ADD NOW" button for friends.

11.  Click ADD NOW.

12.  Along the top click the FIND banner.

13.  Click on the INVITE FRIENDS button.

14.  Now it will open with a series of options - Messages/ WhatAPP?  etc.  Send link to your section member or  person whom you are challenging.

15.  New Friends appear under the friends tab

16.  Your friends will receive a clickable link.

16.  In the top right click the yellow back arrow.

17.  The "I'm New Here" screen appears, click Confirm.

18.  Now the "FUN ROOM" will unlock

19.  This is where you can now play in the multi-player mode up to 10 people.

20.  Click "Create Room"

21.  Select "Classic" and click "Create"

22.  Now add friends and you are set to go.

23.  Don't forget that to chat while you play and throw some shade.  To do so you will need to have a group conversation going on WhatsApp? - unless of course you all have the same type of device then... well you know.

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