Prior Learning Portfolio
Hi, my name is Cranston Forbes from Kingston, Jamaica presently I am living in the Cayman Islands where I teach music at a school on the Island. I also own and operate a music tutoring, and recording company Where I teach students and prepare them for the Trinity College of Music exam which is based in England. These exams are practical and theory based. I started playing music since age nine playing the trumpet, this allowed me to receive a music scholarship as a junior music student. Later on I started teaching as a pre-trained music teacher and went to workshops and seminars put on by the education ministry. Not only that, I had the opportunity to play and work with some re-known music which help me develop my musicianship.
Music have been not just my passion, but my life, but my love and as such I have been teaching in the school system in Jamaica for over 20 years teaching in the Infant, primary, high and colleges in Jamaica. In the Primary school we introduce music to help develop their motor skills and their cognitive functions. Using the syllabus in words to create rhythmic patterns to play on the Congo drums. In the high school system I had a responsibility to teach theory up to grade 5 using the Trinity syllabus. I also had to form different choir and band preparing them for national competitions and school events. At the University College of the Caribbean in Jamaica I was hired as an adjust lecture to teach the university choir.
While living in Jamaica I was the music director for Pentecostal Tabernacle, which was one of the Major Church in Jamaica. My responsibility as a director was to teach a choir of one hundred voices and I was also the band director. I had to write and arrange the parts for both choir and band. My musical knowledge had me judging the national festival song competition and judging the national school competition. I also had the opportunity to play with many internationally acclaimed musicians like PJ Morgan, Professor Alton Merrel, James Bignon, Percy Gray Jr. and Darren Thomas to name a few.
Now in the Cayman Islands, I am presently a music teacher at the Grace Christian Academy School, where I teach students music from Kindergarten to grade 12. At the school I have the responsibility of forming choirs and creating an elementary school band. I also lecturer part-time working with the university choir. I also work with a forty-piece orchestra in charge of the woodwind and brass section. And I am also in charge of a yearly singing Christmas tree choir and band.
I am seeking prior learning credits for the Music Theory 301 course. In this course is covers reading and writing that includes triplets and swing eighth notes, writing and analyzing diatonic chords progressions in minor, read and write rhythm that includes sixteen notes in a double time feel, constructing modal scales and identify them by sounds, construct pentatonic scales and identify them by sounds, write a pentatonic melody over a basic blues progression and understand and use slash chords and bass pedal points.
I am seeking prior knowledge for the following courses
Music Theory 301 – OHARM-301
Harmonic Ear Training- OEART-320
Objective: Read and write rhythms that include triplets and swing eighth notes
I have been studying music theory as an instructor with the Trinity College of London I have studied triplets and swing and theses are topics in the regular curriculum in the school system. Knowing that triplets are three eight notes in one beat. Or as I always tell my students a triplet is having three notes of the same kind but having the value of only two of the notes. In the eight note (triplet) an easiest way to remember it is breaking down the word triplet in syllabus. E.g. “Tri-pa-let” you then play the triplets the way you pronounced it. This I found help my students have a better grasp in playing and understand how eighth note triplets are played.
This understanding of the eight note triplet makes it easy to explain to the students how to play the swing feel. This goal is simply achieve by playing the first and the third of the triplet, or may the ‘pa’ in the broken down word “tri-pa-let” silent. This allows you to have a natural feel to what is been played by using things that come naturally, in this case how we speak.
Please refer to video on triplets and swing to see what I know on the subject.
Objective: Write and analyze diatonic chord progressions in minor
I started playing and analyzing major and minor diatonic chord progression while I was in school doing the Royal school of Music Exams in Jamaica. While teaching as a pre-train music teacher in Jamaica I took music courses and attend workshop put on by the ministry. I also did some non-credit online courses that helped me to understand the principles. In the year 2005 I became a tutor working with students to do the Royal school of music exams. I have learn to not only recognize different chord types with their tension but progressions of songs, which have allowed me to be more effective in playing. I have a command over music theory, not just a theoretical understanding but applying it to my music production and in my teaching.
Understanding that diatonic refers to the note within a particular scale whether it be major or minor. The chords derived from those scales would be classified as diatonic chords. Finding diatonic chords within the minor scale we would always use the harmonic minor. Every scale has seven notes and the triads are built upon the scale. However, when finding the triad for the third interval in the minor scale the seventh note in that triad is lowered. It is also important to note that the scale degree one of every scale is always a major triad. To better demonstrate my knowledge on the subject please refer to the video on diatonic minor chords
Objective: Read and write rhythms that include sixteenth notes in a double time feel
Double time and double time feel is two different concept for the double time this is where a music is written with a particular key signature but if a bar or two is play in double time. This suggest that the music should be played twice as fast to what was written. However a double time feel, is much different, in that the key signature remains the same with either the melody playing in double time and having the chord structure staying the same. In some cases the improvisation is done in double time while the chord structure remains the same.
When writing rhythms the sixteenth note is used to create a double time feel to help give a composition forward movement which also help in the dynamic expression of composition. In this cause the use of the sixteenth notes would be used where there is a phrase with a groups of eighth notes to create the double time feel. In notating the sixteenth note double time feel it is important also to show that the time-signature has not change only that the notes give a sense of forward movement. To show you a demonstration of how this principle is applied please watch the video entitled sixteenth notes in double time feel.
Objective: Construct pentatonic scales and identify by sound
The pentatonic scale is a consisted of five notes. To understand how the notes are form, we use the musical measurement of tones and semitone. The pentatonic scale can either be a major or a minor. With the Major pentatonic scale the construction is-: tone, tone, tone and a half, tone. This worked out to be the 1,2,3,5 and 6th notes of the major scale. With the minor pentatonic scale its tonal construction is as follows-: tone and a half, tone, tone and tone and a half. In term of number position it would be called as 1 b3, 4, 5, b7. Just like a Major scale has a relative minor. So is it with the Major pentatonic scale. If you are playing the C Major scale its relative minor is A minor. The principle is the same, as C pentatonic major scale its relative pentatonic minor would be A pentatonic minor.
These two scales are unique in nature in sound looking at the major pentatonic scale its sound can be heard in a lot of Negro spiritual songs, one popular song is Amazing Grace. The minor pentatonic scale is considered to be the singing scale of which most melody is written from. Indeed the pentatonic scales on a whole is considered to be the melodic scales and this can be heard over all forms of music. Please refer to video classified pentatonic scale to see a demonstration of my use of the pentatonic scales.
Objective: write a pentatonic melody over a basic blues progression
In order to play melody over a chord, it is important to understand the modes of a scale. These are as follows
1-: Ionian, 2-: Dorian, 3-: Phrygian, 4-: Lydian, 5-: Mixolydian, 6-: Aeolian, 7-: Locrian. With that said the rule of playing pentatonic scale is simple this, Major scales are played over major chords and minor scales would be played over minor chords. For example if you are in the Key of F Major and the progression is Cm7- F7 -BbMaj7 you would play the C minor pentatonic over the Cm7 and the major pentatonic over the F7 and the BbMaj7. I have attached a score of an original blues piece entitle “Pentatonic Expression” to demonstrate the desired objective.
Objective: Understand and use slash chords and bass pedal points
Slash chord are sometimes called compound chords, this simple put is a chord with its bass line or it inversion shown with the addition of a slash. A slash chord is usually used in modern music and can be seen often in Jazz standards. Understanding slash chord is a simple process as the note written on the left or sometime on the top, represents the chord to be played on the right hand and the note written on the right sometimes at the bottom represents the notes to be played on the left hand. There are two categories of a slash chord first category is whenever the note is a part of the chord then this represents an inversion. This indicates that the note represented in the chord would become the first not of the inversion to be used. The second category is when the bass note is not a part of the chord. In this case even though the note on your left hand is different from the chord on your right, the chord that is being played must be analyzed according to the note on the left hand. Slash chords are used to create a descending step like bass line which can be seen in some Jazz standard piece
Bass pedals on the other hand is simply having the bass played over a series of chord to have the bass tone be a musical anchor to the musical piece. This allows you to create some lift to an arrangement or even your presentation. Using this technique you can play the root or fifth of the scale and have chords play around it, or just play a note outside of the structure and play the chords within the progression. Please refer to the video where I demonstrate the use of this principle.