Issue 5.1 Spring Term 2021
FEATURING: Teaching Timbre - Music Technology - Cultural Capital - Rhythm Game Apps - Classroom Instruments - Situational Learning - Recovery Curriculum Music in Northern Ireland - AND MUCH MORE!
LEARNING IN LOCKDOWN: NOT JUST FOR KIDS!
Bev Cullen is a self-employed music teacher at two SEND primary schools. In this article she shares her journey towards providing suitable online music teaching and resources for her pupils.
I started 2020 on an optimistic note… Who wouldn’t? Well, you all know this isn’t going to be a story of exciting class lessons and heart-warming performances to parents! On Wednesday 18th March 2020 my schools shut, along with everyone else’s. As a self-employed music teacher working across two SEND schools, you can imagine my thoughts…especially when it became obvious that this was not ‘just until Easter’. Thankfully, following discussions with both Heads of Federations, it was agreed that they would continue with my contract, if I could find ways of providing music activities for the children while they were at home. My music teaching is often experiential, organic, and is very much guided by the pupils themselves, so I wasn’t sure if this could be delivered remotely. I’m a low tech person, who not only owns lots of CDs, but still has cassettes, vinyl, some books from the Silver Burdett Scheme and a few copies of ‘Singing Together’ from BBC Radio. Now, who remembers those? (Yes, I am that old!)
Challenge Number 1: How do I provide music activities for the children while they are at home? All of my lessons followed the same format: Greeting; moving to music; instrument activity; music or songs linked to the school topic; Makaton signing; Goodbye. I often used some resources from Charanga Music Professional and used this online programme to upload my own resources to for access in school. My first job was to set up ‘pupil’ logins for this resource. As the majority of my pupils would need support accessing this, I set up a group access for each class and login details were sent to the parents/carers. This meant that they could access the resources that I would use in class. I could even set up links with the Keyboard resources for my Gifted and Talented pupils who had begun some one-to-one work on the piano. Using Charanga, for each class I could track: how many times they had logged in; the date of their last login; their total time on the site and
average time on the site over the last 30 days. This was brilliant as I could keep a record to share with the schools to prove my worth. (My schools never asked for this, but as a self-employed teacher during this time, I felt I needed to). I could see which songs/music/activities were being looked at, but it was very impersonal and the children were not able to interact with the activities as they did in class. In school, I may use the same resource for different classes, but I have always taught it in very different ways, according to the needs and abilities of each class and individual learners (as we all do). Many of the children have little or no speech, are very visual learners and need Makaton to support their communication. I needed them to actually see me, in order to access the material. How did I do this? Video! If I could film individual activities, I would be able to keep the clips short, as most of the pupils like to repeat the same activity many times, rather than doing lots of different activities. My first choice of activity? With the help of the NHS washing your hand guidelines, I wrote new lyrics to ‘The Baby Shark Song’. I found a suitable instrumental track on YouTube and practised my song. My poor husband, Jim, returned home from work to find me singing away in the bathroom whilst practising the actions. He ended up, precariously poised in the bath to get a good action shot using the camera on my phone. My voice croaked as it took so many takes to ‘get it in one!’ Thankfully I found an editing function that helped top and tail the start and end. I just about managed to figure out how to send the video as an attachment to the teachers, so that they could share it with their pupils. This was then quickly followed by a Makaton Signed Song for Mother’s Day. This time filmed by Jim half way up the stairs, as I had decided that the curtains in the hallway made a good, plain backdrop to keep distractions to a minimum. (Also, I know that the camera angle is better if you are looking up to it. Thanks to my teenage niece for tips on how to take a good selfie!)
My two schools found different ways to share the videos with the parents/ pupils. One school created a ‘Home Learning Page’. I sent my videos to the school IT technician, who then uploaded everything on to ‘Bev’s Music Page’. The school could then track the usage, alongside other curriculum subjects. The other school used Class Dojo and set up an account for me. This way I was able to share the resources myself, and have a direct twoway link with parents. This was slightly more work for me, but I eventually found the feedback from parents to be beneficial in knowing what activities/songs were benefitting the children most.
Challenge Number 2: What to do when your cameraman has to go to work as an Essential Worker and you need to carry on filming? Having relied on Jim to be my ‘cameraman’, I had to be a little more creative to be able to continue to film whilst working at home on my own. Thankfully he is a bit of an amateur photographer and had a selection of tripods available. Together we found a suitable place to set it all up curtains drawn as a plain backdrop, and to block out unnecessary light; flipchart behind the camera with my notes/script on; my tablet uploaded with songs/backing tracks and any other resources needed balanced gently on top of my vibraphone. (Normally I would complain if anyone used my prized possession as a table, but these were desperate times).
I began filming Makaton signed songs. It has become apparent over the years that there is a special bond between Makaton and Singing. Many of the children enjoy the activity and learn the signs quicker than when using them in everyday speech. This had been commented on to me by staff in the schools, visiting Speech and Language Therapists and parents. I wanted to ensure that the songs were educational and not purely for entertainment. We are all too aware of the ‘device babysitter’ where the TV/tablet/phone is used to occupy a child and keep them quiet. I filmed ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’. The Charanga version counts 1-10 and includes a different animal in each verse. I suggested that parents could find clocks/watches around the home; anything with numbers on; pictures of animals to extend work around the song. As I thought of different songs to sign, and activities to accompany them, I realised that it might be beneficial to film some videos aimed at parents, suggesting activities that they could do with the children at home that didn’t require any instruments. My first ones covered: Moving to Music and Body Percussion. These were activities that the children were familiar with; they could join in as their parents watched. The parents would be able to see their child’s response, and then lead the activity themselves, as many times as the child wanted it to be repeated. By the end of March various online music companies that I am subscribed to began to email links to a wide range of free songs, activities and resources e.g. Out of The Ark and The School Musicals Company. I also subscribe to many YouTube channels, my favourite being ‘The Include Choir’ who shared a Makaton Signed song each week that included the ‘Makaton Sign of the Week’. Perfect for our children. Just before the ‘Easter Holidays’ (if you could call them that!), I signed and sang ‘Good To Be Me’ a popular song that is liked by many of our children and ‘Easter Egg Hunt’. At this time, I started to get some feedback from parents (and staff ) on Class Dojo: “Thank you Bev, our children love this song” – a comment from the Deputy Head Teacher about the song ‘Good To Be Me’
“It’s one of the few *Name* will actually do for us!” – ‘it’ being music, was one of the few activities that the pupil would engage in willingly at home. “*Name* loves these songs, especially ‘I’m Ok’ “ – comment about song resources from Out of the Ark “Thank you Bev, *Name* loves listening to all the songs you put up” – a surprising comment about a pupil who generally chooses not to engage in music sessions in class! This parent then requested more songs (in the mid dle of the Easter Holiday) as their child had watched, sung and signed them so many times, they needed some new songs! My heart was warmed to know that the songs were being accessed, used and enjoyed. (I am pleased to say, that they still are!) ‘Rainbows’ were beginning to appear in people’s windows as a symbol to say “Thank You” to our NHS, and to make us smile as we went out for exercise. The song ‘Sing a Rainbow’ seemed to be an obvious choice for my next signed video. The children could learn their colours and the signs as they drew and coloured in rainbows at home. Following this, a parent messaged me to say her daughter had signed ‘Green’ for the first time. This confirmed to me that filming signed songs would be the most beneficial way I could support children working at home throughout the summer term.
Please join me in the next issue for part 2, when I journey into the wonderful world of video editing and YouTube channels! Bev Cullen is a Specialist Music Teacher, musician and Makaton Tutor. She is one of the first nine Tutors trained to deliver the 'Using Makaton with Singing' pack. She has worked with children from 6 months 18 years, in mainstream education, special needs and community settings. As a musician she is classically trained, and has spent many years playing with Brass Bands, Orchestras, Jazz Orchestras and Musical Theatre Groups. She can now regularly be found supporting Guitarist, Singer/Songwriter Joe Bayliss. Find Bev on Facebook: BC Music
Announcing a new partnership for music education Music Education Solutions and UCan Play are delighted to announce their new partnership. Through this initiative, music education specialists from both organisations will provide bespoke advice and support for teachers wanting to purchase musical instruments for their schools. UCan Play was set up in 2005 by Dr Jonathan Savage. It is a not-for-profit organisation supporting music education in various ways throughout the UK. The sale of musical instruments to schools, colleges and universities is part of its work, but there are plenty of others too. UCan Play assists schools with fundraising for music education programmes, and works collaboratively with leading charities such as Restore the Music UK to make funding available to schools in support of their musical activities, and to ensure that this funding is spent wisely. UCan Play are also experienced at live-streaming music events, and are the technical partner for NYMAZâ€™s Connect Resound project, streaming live music lessons and performances to schools in remote parts of England and beyond. Using their technical expertise, they also work with musicians across the UK to support the development of their digital skills and competences through their Interface:Response project, which is accepting applications for support until the end of March 2021.
Both Music Education Solutions and UCan Play believe that working together in support of music education is better than working independently. By pooling their expertise and resources, they hope to continue to provide excellent advice and support to all teachers across the UK at this challenging time. They are here to help in any way that they can. Further information musicedsolution.
Essential Instruments fo
Dr Liz Stafford shares her
Melody–makers For accessibility you can’t beat chime bars and boomwhackers, for the ability to instantly play a melody with no special training required!
TOP TIP: Always purchase the ones in a case or storage bag, or be forever sorting them out at the start of every lesson!
Beat-keepers To ensure your class stays in time, you want a dominant sound on which to keep the beat. A cajon or djembe is ideal to cut through the cacophony!
TOP TIP: If you really want to keep in time, give these instruments to a ‘sensible’ child!
Don’t forget the beaters! These badboys are ninjas when it comes to getting lost! Be sure to order lots of spares so you are never caught out!
You can find specifications and pricin suggestions on the Music Educ
or the Primary Classroom
r instrumental must-haves
Timbre & Texture Add layers and colours with a variety of instruments made from different materials, which can be played in different ways.
TOP TIP: Aim to include instruments that can make long sounds, such as ocean drums and rainsticks. Often classroom percussion instruments only make short sounds, which limits your creative possibilities.
Harmony Include some instruments that can add lower harmonies and softer tones, such as metallophones and xylophones. Top Tip: Look for a mixture of alto and bass options, to give a good harmonic range.
ng for all these instruments, along with some more of Lizâ€™s cation Solutions & UCan Play partnership page here
Repertoire: Cultural Keyboard Warriors versus Music Teachers Professor Martin Fautley
One of the issues that always seems to raise its head in music is that of the materials employed in teaching and learning. This subject has become so contentious that in some quarters it creates arguments all of its own. As one of the academics who authored the report for Youth Music that engendered the “Stormzy versus Mozart” debacle when it came out (Kinsella et al., 2019), I still bear the scars of that encounter! But what was, or is, all the fuss about? In this article I will try and unpick some of these issues, and offer some very personal thoughts as to what is going on. Let us start by revisiting the National Curriculum for music, in particular the things which used to be called the ‘elements of music’, but are now known as the ‘inter-related dimensions’, namely pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure, and appropriate musical notations. These are all conceptual building blocks upon which music is based, and whilst there are debates about whether they can be separated one from another (which I don’t want to get into here), nonetheless these can be recognised as just about essential in many musical cultures, and important concepts to teach and learn. And it is with this matter that issues begin. Here, for example, is a quick back-of-an-envelope list of the inter-related dimensions, and then two lists of music which might be used to teach them:
Now, I will admit that this is a very simplistic set of lists, but what do you spot about the differences between list A and list B? Hopefully I have engineered it so that the answer is obvious! List A contains examples of pieces from western classical music, list B uses popular music. Now, I am not saying that one is better than the other, or that we should only use music that the children and young people are familiar with, or vice versa. No, the point of lists A and B is to show that the same musical concept can be taught using different resources. These resources can be thought of as the repertoire of classroom teaching materials, and, I will admit, I have been deliberately provocative in choosing the musical items in the two lists. But the point remains, the repertoire of musical examples chosen can become, for those outside of music education, a proxy measure for what is valued. So when you hear a headteacher say “We teach proper music here, Mozart and Beethoven, none of that ‘make up a soundscape about the sea nonsense’”, they are signalling their values, not the quality of the musical teaching and learning. This is because I venture to suggest that it is probably not possible to teach music in a genre-free fashion. Yes, I suppose you could teach pitch using computer generated tones, and rhythm using only clapping, but once ‘real’ music becomes utilised, as surely it must and should, then the thorny problem of genre raises its head.
For music educators, I suspect that the examples of music that they will choose to listen to with their classes will cross a wide gamut of styles, types, eras, and genres. If “Roll out the Barrel” will exemplify the point in question, fine, this does not mean the teacher is promoting drinking songs and alcoholic excess, any more than the Brindisi from Verdi’s la Traviata does! Where this becomes an issue is when external values are bolted on, where the musical choices used are about promoting some form of worthiness. And it is here that as music educators we do have an issue not of our own making but created for us. These are the genre wars which break out in music education fairly frequently, Stormzy vs Mozart being but one recent example. Where such genre wars are leading is to do with what commentators – often outside music education – believe that one of the purposes of music education should be, namely to make children like classical music. I worry that it is quite hard to make children like anything, and compulsory enjoyment has never been my thing. But I do think we as music educators should be introducing children to music that they may not have heard hitherto. I do think that this is legitimate, I would go so far as to say that we should be doing it, after all English lessons are not often populated with comics as the sole literary form. Where this all becomes problematic is when we have the intrusion of one of the current contentious terms in education, that being “cultural capital” (written about by Liz Stafford in issue 4.1 of this magazine). Which of lists A and B above contains the most cultural capital? Is that even a thing? Can you measure cultural capital? How? What rating scale should be used? Cultural capital is itself a difficult concept, and often carries within it connotations of Arnold’s phrase “the best that has been thought and said”, which as Phil Beadle observes, can in and of itself be problematic: ‘The best that has been thought and said’ is clearly better than anything else. It implies that there are other modes of thought and speech and that they are worse than ‘the best’; they are innately inferior. From whence does ‘the best’ originate? ‘The best’ originates from the dominant, from the people who are so aesthetically and intellectually above the vulgar that they
are able to distil the most exquisite expressions from the most rarefied thoughts that the vulgar couldn’t get close to forming, or perhaps even comprehending (Beadle, 2020 p.42) And it is this that proponents of high culture (who, to be fair, don’t usually have to try and teach it to children!) find lamentable. What is important to note from a music educator’s perspective is that the genre – the repertoire – is serving a different end. Yes, we will want to introduce pieces of music that the children may not have heard, but we need to do this in a careful and sensitive way so that we do not breed resentment. Saying “OK, oiks, I heard some of you listening to the radio in your cars as your mums drove you to school, and I must say that music was twaddle, your mums clearly have no taste, unlike me” is not going to go down well at the school gates! Now, clearly no teacher would be this insensitive, but we need to watch how we introduce music, and this is because unlike many other school subjects, music is very closely bound up with identity. As Nicholas Cook put it, “In today’s world, deciding what music to listen to is a significant part of deciding and announcing to people not just who you ‘want to be’ . . . but who you are” (Cook, 2000 p.5).
But here’s a thing. Spend long enough following these angry computer keyboard cultural warriors on social media, and you’ll find them saying things like “spent the evening listening to Ed Sheeran…”, or Eurythmics, or E17, or whatever (And why not? no problem!) Seldom, if ever, do they report listening to Franck, Faure, or Frescobaldi.
Yet pity the poor music teacher who says they taught something in a music class using an Ed Sheeran song, never mind that the previous pieces of music they played were by Grieg, Handel, and Ireland (just working my way through the musical alphabet!); no, the fact they played some Ed Sheeran heralds the end of civilisation as we know it! Personally, I think this may be
because these keyboard cultural warriors are desperately trying to virtue signal their curricula as making up for something personally that they lack, an interesting variation on “do as I say, not as I do”! Music lessons, as currently configured in the UK, are not musical appreciation lessons. The purpose of employing repertoire is to make musical points, and to ‘teach music musically’, as Swanwick (1999) put it. Music teachers are not the stormtroopers of cultural education enactment; if society wants us to do this, then we need to think about what the purposes of music education are. After all, as Simon Toyne observes:
If the intent of the music curriculum is as promoted here – namely, getting to know how music works and how it conveys meaning – then this is the relevance of the musical curriculum, and the choice of genre and musical works serve this knowledge. This is about moving students’ musical understanding from an immediate, passive response (usually focused around liking or disliking a piece of music) to being able to engage with music in multiple genres with a depth of musical and cultural knowledge born out of repeated and varied practical experience. (Toyne, 2021 p.115) So what should beleaguered music teachers do? Well, the National Curriculum is actually quite vague on this matter, which might be a good thing! As you know, it says this: The national curriculum for music aims to ensure that all pupils: perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians. What it does not say is who the great composers or great musicians are. Kanye West currently tops the list of highest-earning musicians; is he a great musician? (I don’t know!) According to the Classic FM website “The best-selling living composer is Howard Shore, followed by Ludovico Einaudi in second place, John Williams in third, and Sir Karl Jenkins in fourth”. Has their music featured recently on your listening list with kids? It is here that the cultural capital-o-meter keyboard warriors might wince. Does Einaudi (to pick but one) have more or less cultural capital than, say, Thomas Adès? How do we decide? Or, more importantly, who gets to decide? The self-appointed keyboard warriors? Hmm! As music teachers
we are the architects of our own curriculum, we get to decide what the building blocks of musical learning are, in terms of what works best for us, our kids, in our school. Imagine being told that you had to teach - pick composer or musician you are not too keen on - (for me, Wagner, sorry Wagnerians!), and that the music of said composer had to form the basis of your entire curriculum? Well, if that were me I’d be angry, and then be sub verting it like mad! Ok, Wagner (yuk) well here’s some Richard Strauss (better) and here’s some Bruckner (now we’re cooking!). And this could be done with any composer/genre/musical style you name. And we haven’t even started on non-western music yet! After all, as Bernard Trafford wrote: ...defining cultural capital is fraught with pitfalls...In multi-cultural 21st century Britain, we tread a tightrope between two risks: those of cultural imperialism (“This is the Western European canon you must absorb”) and of patronisingly paying superficial lip-service to every other cultural tradition that we encounter in Britain – now innumerable (Trafford, 2017). What lies at the heart of this matter is what is and what should be part of the job of the music teacher. Yes, we can and should be introducing our pupils to music they don’t know, and might not come across elsewhere, sure; but our job is to teach music musically, and the musical repertoire we choose for this should be based on our knowledge of our contexts. Look for musical examples and broaden our own horizons, certainly, and introduce these new discoveries while we are enthusiastic about them as and when appropriate, but let’s try and not let ourselves become the cultural warriors in a battle we didn’t pick! Me? I spent the evening listening to Poulenc choral music, how much cultural capital is there in that? Hmm! However you spent your listening evening, hopefully you did it because you wanted to, not because some trumped-up cultural keyboard warrior shamed you into it!
Professor Martin Fautley is director of research in the School of Education and Social Work at Birmingham City University. He is the author of ten books and over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and academic research papers. He is joint editor of the British Journal of Music Education. @DrFautley
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Road to Recovery
How can music help our pupils move on from the pandemic?
There has been a lot of noise this academic year about ‘lost learning.’ Early studies of the pandemic’s impact in England have shown that the average child was about 2 months ‘behind’ where they should be by Christmas 2020. The latest school closures in England, currently due to end on 8th March, will almost certainly have added to this, and there is likely to be renewed pressure to focus on the ‘core’ subjects when schools return. However, before we take a knee-jerk reaction into cramming our timetables with extra English and Maths, perhaps we need to take a step back and consider a few things. Firstly, and rather philosophically, if all our children are ‘behind’ en masse, then surely that means none of them are on target, or ahead? Which means that no-one is ‘behind’ anyone? What learners are ‘behind’ is the curriculum, in that they have not covered the content they would ordinarily have done by this point in time. And the curriculum can be re-written to compensate for this. So what if this year’s curriculum looks different from last years? A curriculum should be a fluid, living document, that changes frequently to reflect new developments.
Secondly, is it really the core skills of English and Maths that need attention? Presumably these subjects are the ones that schools have been focusing most on due to their status as ‘core’ content. Surely it is the ‘noncore’ subjects, and particularly the practical subjects like music, which have suffered most from the switch to remote learning? Shouldn’t we be doing more of these when we return, not less? Thirdly, is lost learning our biggest concern for this generation of children? As the mother of an only child, my main worry for my daughter during the pandemic has been her isolation from other children when school is closed. I have seen how it has affected her confidence, her social skills, and her mental wellbeing. This has been brought into sharp focus during the current lockdown, because my status has changed, and she has been able to go to school two days a week while I am teaching. On the days she has been in school she is positively fizzing with energy, and like a completely different child. Clearly on our return to school we cannot just let children play with each other all day to make up for lost socialisation time! But we can create opportunities within the curriculum to rebuild relationships, rediscover communication skills, and catch up on the creative, practical activities that we have been missing. Innumerable studies have shown that music is a powerful tool for social interaction, helping young and old alike forge relationships with likeminded friends. But beyond simply listening to music and share an affinity for a particular band or genre, practical music-making has an incredible array of benefits for rebuilding our children’s social skills. Group work in music can remind children how to collaborate, share, and work as a team, and offer them the opportunity to create a product that they are proud of. There is also a strong proven link between music and emotional development. Taking part in musical activities such as songwriting and composition will help pupils to recognise emotions, and explore their feelings, which in turn will help them become more comfortable discussing difficult feelings - such as those thrown up by the pandemic - and ultimately gain control over these. Finally, for those of us who are still worried about the ‘academic’ learning
loss, a fortunate fact. Taking part in music activities has been proven to support brain development, academic achievement, and thinking and reasoning skills. Engaging in musical activities can therefore help support pupils to re-engage with learning, and rebuild their confidence as learners. This might, dare I say it, prove a more motivating ‘catch-up’ strategy than extra maths lessons…?!
Dr Liz Stafford is Editor of Primary Music Magazine, and Director of the education consultancy company Music Education Solutions. She teaches Foundation Stage and KS1 music in a local authority primary school in the West Midlands.
For more information about how music can support the recovery curriculum join our
Music & Mental Health in Schools webinar with psychologist Dannielle Haig Wednesday 3rd March at 4.15pm Further details and booking here
What Repertoire should our pupils play? Erika Kalmanczhey considers how teacher and pupil choice of repertoire can facilitate situational learning in music
It is a fundamental question in music education to know what musical pieces our students should play. Should they engage with easy or harder pieces, should they perform classical pieces or popular melodies? Who should choose the repertoire? Are child-chosen pieces of any good quality or is it better to leave it with a teacher? We know that different people would answer these questions in various ways. We are also aware that most musicians would only play a certain genre, tradition or style. Does it mean that we should follow these patterns or should we engage with new trends? How should we educate our students in a modern, multicultural and multi traditional country?
Extensive research has been taken on self-motivation and on the
process of learning that has confirmed our worries about teacher-assigned repertoire. The researchers have understood that external motivation (motivation that comes from a teacher) reduces the value of learning in children. This can happen even if the students love music in general. In addition, children may lose their motivation, become bored or sad. They may even practise less with out significant improvement.
Self-selected repertoire Children have a natural, built-in interest towards the world that surrounds them. When they are allowed to choose and play the musical pieces they like, some thing wonderful happens to them. Their natural motivation turns on and they fully regulate their own learning. The students’ attention expands and their cognitive functions increase. The time they spend practising gets longer and their emotional involvement grows significantly. What does this mean to us? Should we just cancel teacher- led musical activities in schools? Should the students only learn the pieces they really like? Luckily, no! Researchers have found the way to ‘trick’ the brain into learning.
Situational Interest When children follow their interest in learning, they become self-motivated, intrinsic learners. When they learn something for external rewards e.g. for praise or compliance, their learning becomes extrinsic. Situational interest can bridge the gap in between the two antagonistic learning styles by interacting with someone’s curiosity. A sudden change in the environment or a surprising element in learning can provoke people’s interest, can turn on intrinsic motivation and self-motivated learning, even if the people were not interested in it at first. Children’s situational interest can be turned on by interacting with:
interesting environments new or never seen things unusual objects surprises novelties games, quizzes, and puzzles playful challenges fun looking, exciting projects activities that give instant success provided choices
So how can we use situational interest in music education? Erika Kalmanczhey is currently studying for the Trinity College London Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators through the distance learning programme with Music Education Solutions.
The rock music lover One of my former piano students was interested in rock music. His favourite musical piece was ‘We Will Rock You’, a song by Queen. How did I use his interest and combine it with situational learning to help him to achieve higher? At first, I let the student talk about the piece, including what he liked about that music and why. Then we moved to the ‘play off by heart’/’by ear’ phase when I asked the child to reproduce any parts/ elements of the music, he was able to remember. He was able to sing the chorus, “We will, we will rock you!” and he could reproduce the body percussion ostinato. This student was a beginner in his piano studies, therefore the previously mentioned musical elements gave me easy starting points for boosting his learning. (Four notes, a tetrachord melody and a pair of quavers with a crotchet.) When the pupil was ready to move on, I encouraged him to play the ostinato in different ways, including body and unusual piano percussion methods. We also
looked at video clips of the ‘Piano Guys’, who frequently use their tuned instruments as percussion instruments. As our next step, we explored a range of different ostinato patterns. We also learnt about rhythmic note values and notation.
When we moved to the melodic elements, we did the same things: played some parts of the melody by ear and improvised new melod ic phrases. During this phase, we learnt about pitch and staff notation too. When I introduced a new note to the original 4 note scale, we started to explore ‘fivefinger’ patterns, pentatonic scales, legato, staccato and forearm rotation techniques. Learning the lyrics and the melody contour of the song helped the pupil to understand the contrast of monotonic singing and melodic variations. Observing the guitarist helped the student to recognise that improvisation may sound complicated but in fact is achievable and it is fun. At the end, the learner recognised that different parts of the music are played in a certain order, which
gave him an opportunity to learn about musical forms. The classical piano student Teaching a classically trained piano student to play pop, rock and jazz pieces is the opposite challenge. The main question of it is to find the key characteristics that can connect the student’s previous learning to the new style, as well as to provide surprising or interesting elements/ facts during learning to turn on personal interest. Pop, rock and jazz genres are famous for their rhythmical drones, repeated and improvised simple melodic patterns and chordal accompaniments. In order to feed the student’s interest, I would encourage her to experiment with a well-known classical piece by changing the accompaniment, the melodic contour, the rhythm or the time signature to create a modern sounding classical piece. We would listen to sample pieces that would give a fun element to learning too. Later I would introduce more stylistic, technical and theoretical knowledge to support the learning in the ‘new genre’.
Summary Our students need to learn a wide range of styles, genres, and traditions in their music education. Child-chosen pieces can be used as excellent starting points and motivators into learning. Changing one musical element of those pieces can create surprising moments that can lead into deeper or teacher-led/scaffolded learning. By providing surprising, fun, enjoyable and achievable activities, the teacher will help the student to succeed.
Expert-led CPD sessions for all music teachers, delivered via Zoom in small groups of no more than 12. 4.15pm-5.45pm. ÂŁ45 per person. 3rd March 2021: Music & Mental Health in Schools with Dannielle Haig THURS 18th March 2021: Teaching a through curriculum with Anna Gower 28th April 2021: Supporting students to compose with Dr Kirsty Devaney 9th June 2021: The latest singing research with Professor Martin Ashley
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Music across the UK
In the third of a series of articles, we explore the different approaches taken by each country of the UK to the music curriculum
Northern Ireland The music curriculum in Northern Ireland falls into the broader subject area of ‘The Arts,’ and allows for a considerable level of flexibility when it comes to content. At a basic level, children are expected to work creatively with sound, sing and perform with simple instruments, and listen and respond to own and others’ music-making. There is very much an emphasis on practical music-making rather than theoretical concepts such as music history. During the Foundation Stage, children are expected to make music, developing the ability to perform a steady beat and repeat simple rhythms, to recognise loud and quiet, high and low, long and short, and fast and slow, and follow start and stop signals. They are also expected to develop their team-working skills, and in particular to value their own and others’ contributions to music making and performing. This sets them up with the basic skills and understanding that they need to progress to more complex musical work in KS1.
During KS1 pupils work creatively with sound by using sounds to express feelings, ideas, mood and atmosphere. There is a very clear reflection here of the work of researchers such as Swanwick and Tillman, and Durant and Welch. The curriculum acknowledges that at this stage of development, children are ready to work on their expressive capabilities when it comes to music. This work at KS1 then develops into KS2 when pupils are expected to create musical stories, pictures, patterns, conversations, and accompaniments. Interestingly, they are also encouraged to ‘investigate ways of preserving the music they have created’, which allows them the freedom to use the most appropriate system for recording their work - a far cry from some of the other countries’ curricula that insist on staff notation being used as the primary musical language. In terms of performing, at KS1 the focus is on ‘manipulative control,’ or technique, whereas in KS2 the further development of vocal and instrumental skill also includes the ability to perform from memory, by ear or using notation. Again, note the optional nature of notation here it’s an ‘or’ not an ‘and!’ The decision to focus on technique in KS1 is a sensible one, building a strong foundation for more expressive and detailed performance work in KS2. The listening aspect of the curriculum is very clear in that it relates not just to other people’s music, but the pupils’ own music - with listening activities involving music that pupils ‘create, perform or listen to.’ At KS1 pupils should be considering sounds, effects and musical features, and at KS2 a ‘variety of characteristics’. A particularly nice feature is that pupils are expected to ‘think’ rather than just ‘respond’ - so many other curricula focus on listening ‘and responding’ or ‘appraising’ without giving due credence to the development of the thought process which should connect these activities. Perhaps the greatest strength of this curriculum is its unashamed focus on practical music-making. There is no attempt to make the subject look ‘academic’ or ‘knowledge rich’ on paper, but instead the focus is firmly on the development of musical skill. Which, after all, is what music is all about!
for the Primary Mu
If lockdown has taught us one thing in teaching, i when it comes to Online & Digital learning. Our P be kitted out with Music Technology, but yet learning at home. Even when schools open again pursue Music making at home for fun and as an e would therefore seem worthwhile to look at some our students making music during lockdown and
Music Technology is one o time cost a lot of mo Microphones, cables etc. It Primary schools would be u 2021 there is so much out th can use. Some of it is pow grasp. But there is a lot t implement and full of gre wanted to share with you so music tech to your lessons.
it is that there is a lot on offer Primary classroom might not suddenly our students are n, students may still want to extension to the classroom. It e of the ways that we can get beyond.
of those things that for a long oney. Software, Hardware, It all added up; and for most unaffordable. But as we reach here that students & teachers werful, complex and hard to that is easy to use, quick to eat learning opportunities. I ome great ways to bring some
This is a great way to make music online and might work best for Upper Year 5 o creating classes and setting assignments. It is a great, free Digital Audio Worksta music. I have a blog that you can look at for more ideas and information.
This is a great website and lots of fun. It allows students to create an A Cappella s is fun to get students to try and recreate the parts in small groups – and I am s layers combine to create a vocal piece – beat, melody, bass and countermelody extensions, but the basic website is free and fun to use. www.Incredibox.com
Learning Music with Ableton
This site is similar to Incredibox in that it allows students to quickly create beat some lessons on rhythm and metre and students can then create something base any music technology to more traditional music making methods. This helps to This is again web-based and whilst they want you to then move on to some learningmusic.ableton.com
Chrome Music Lab
This is a website that will appeal to younger Primary learners as it is more colourf this site, but it is a load of fun to play with! https://musiclab.chromeexperime
If you are looking for great listening examples then this website is fantastic. It examples that are all cateogorised. This means you can pick different pieces de about the tracks and is a great web-based resource. www.classical100.org
Drumbit – Drum Machine
If you are teaching rhythm and want to bring it to life, then a Drum Machine is this would allow you to bring them to life. It is great to link notated rhythms with
or Year 6. It is web-based and free. There is an education site that works well for ation that comes with loops and effects as well as the ability to play in your own
singing group and change what each character is doing as the piece progresses. It sure there is a way to do this during lockdown. What it teaches is how different y. No downloading required, no login and no money. There are apps and other
ts, basslines and melodies all within their web browser. This might be linked to ed on rhythms they learnt or created in an online lesson. It is always good to link o bridge gaps, engage learners and ultimately make them into better musicians. e complex software, you can play around with this website for free. https://
ful and simple to use. Linking in with current learning is a great way to approach ents.com/Experiments
t is free, but you need to sign up for it. It will then give you loads of listening epending on what mood, topic or concept you are teaching. It has information
s a great way of doing this. You could be teaching Samba or Rock Rhythms, and h Rhythm grids to help enhance student understanding. https://drumbit.app
What is clear is that as Music Educators we have so much on offer that we can tap in to. But my focus is always on music making and the language of music itself. The best Technology will never replace the joy of classroom singing or the creation of music using instruments. But it is often a tool that can help to enhance all that we do in our music curriculum. Technology, when used alongside some traditional approaches, can be a wonderful way of bringing music to life. And the exciting thing is that our students can access some of this from home and keep making music outside of the classroom.
James Manwaring is Director of Music for Windsor Learning Partnership. His school has been nominated for the national â€˜Music Department of the Yearâ€™ award five years in a row. www.manwaringmusic.blog
Paddington Bear’s First Concert and Video Workshops Harmony’s Music Club has produced a unique interactive concert performance of Paddington Bear’s First Concert together with a music-video workshop package for primary schools. Delivered by professional pianist and music educator Caroline Page and professional narrator Liz Franklin-Kitchen, it offers children an exciting opportunity to learn, enjoy and participate in a wide range of musical experiences via home -learning or in the classroom!
During the video workshops the children will: use their critical thinking skills while exploring and experimenting with different sounds and pitches before selecting their preferences to create their concert instruments; expressively use their voices and instruments when improvising sound effects for a short-story; create artwork to illustrate the video performance; and learn to sing Paddington Bear’s theme song, practicing listening and re call skills with the option of audio recording themselves to create a vir tual choir for the video performance. On the concert day your bespoke video performance, illustrated by the children and including any choir, will be privately available on YouTube. The children can join in with the performance using their instruments and/ or by singing along, or they can just enjoy being part of a ‘live’ musical experience. This package has grown from a passionate belief in the power of music, especially for children when they are socially distanced. For more information or to register for a virtual visit from Paddington Bear go to www.harmonysmusicclub.com/paddington.
Caroline Page is a music educator, professional pianist and the founder of the music education platform Harmony’s Music Club.
This term, during England’s latest lockdown, I have been working with a group of key worker children in Reception Class. I have chosen to focus on introducing them to the key musical elements, and so far we’ve had lessons exploring pulse, rhythm, and tempo. This week’s challenge was timbre, which is always a tricky concept to explain. It’s often described as the ‘colour’ of the music or the ‘quality’ of sound - neither of which is particularly helpful when talking to 4 and 5 year olds! I chose to approach timbre through practical activity, with a brief explanation that ‘every instrument has a different sound’ and that that’s what we would be exploring today. We started by asking each child to come out to the front, choose an instrument, and play it to the class. As a group we tried to find descriptive
Timbre Time! Exploring musical colour with EYFS words that matched the sound of the instrument - for example ‘jingly’ and ‘tinkly’ for sleigh bells (although one child did shout out ‘Rudolph,’ which took a while to unpick!). As more and more children had an instrument, we started not only to use describing words, but also to ‘match’ the instruments with other similar sounding ones - asking the children who had already had a turn to hold their instrument up if they thought it matched the one being played by the child at the front. Once each child had an instrument, we made piles on the carpet of similar instruments - our ‘bangy,’ ‘scratchy,’ ‘jingly’ and ‘rustly’ options each being placed on separate carpet spots. We had to go back through these and invite volunteers to say which instruments were in the wrong place, as some of the children matched the instruments by sight rather than sound - for example putting the maracas into the ‘bangy’ group because they were made of This activity was adapted from the Timbre activity in the Musical Learning Starter
wood like the claves and woodblocks. The next step for this lesson was to collect all the instruments back in and for me to play a selection one-by-one under a cloth. The children had to identify the instruments by their sound, and I was really pleased that they could not only say whether it was a ‘bangy’ or a ‘jingly’ instrument, but a lot of them could remember the exact name of the instrument too - “It’s the sleigh bells!” Then came the really fun part of the lesson. Each child chose an instrument and then explored our indoor and outdoor spaces trying to find an object that made a similar sound. A kind of musical treasure hunt! There were some really creative choices, such as a running tap to match a rainstick, and lego blocks tapped together to match claves! The children with the bell instruments struggled most, until we remembered that telephones have a ringing sound! Our final task of the lesson was to use our instruments to add musical colour to a story. My class are currently reading Dinosaurs love Underpants
Dr Elizabeth Stafford Editor, Primary Music Magazine which gave us a great opportunity to use ‘bangy’ instruments for bones rattling together, and all our instruments at once to show the dinosaurs getting cross! I am lucky in that I have the children for an hour and a half, and their class teacher is very flexible about what I do in that time, leaving me bits and pieces of phonics, handwriting, and numbers, as well as setting out motor skill activities for me to fill the time once we’ve had enough of music. Normally we do around 30 minutes of music and then move onto other things, but this week we used nearly the whole time for our music activities as the children were so engaged! This is definitely an activity that I will be returning to in the future. Pack, created by Music Education Solutions and Normans Musical Instruments.
This taught course comprises three half-day training sessions across the course of the academic year. These will be supported with access to online learning materials, and challenges, ideas and activities to try out in the classroom, culminating in a short assignment. On completion of the assignment participants will be awarded with the Music Education SolutionsÂŽ Primary Music Leadership Certificate. Session 1: Leading Music in your school In this session we look at how to motivate, inspire and support staff to teach music with confidence, how to manage an extra-curricular programme, and how to address differentiation including for SEND pupils. Session 2: Planning & Assessing Music in your school In this session we look at how to create pedagogically-sound schemes of work and lesson plans, how to satisfy an Ofsted Deep-Dive, and the resources and
software available to help deliver the national curriculum for music. Session 3: Delivering music in your school In this session we look at activity and resource ideas to help you deliver performing, listening, composing and improvising activities in the classroom.
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Exploratory play is calming, self-guided and very engaging - especially so if it is multi-sensory. This is why educators use this well-known approach to help children with special needs. But is it still possible to do this in online sessions? The Rhythm Circle Digital Games Project has developed online musical games which support musical learning by young people with special needs. So far 3 games have been developed and are currently being trialled. They are Musical Sudoku, Run Faster, and Dynamic Dots.
Developed with the help of play therapist and musician Andrew Kay, the games offer useful starting points for educators to promote exploratory multi-sensory play during remote delivery. Musical support is provided in the form of video explainers and extension activities so non-musicians can use them easily.
Musical Sudoku is a musical version of the well-known Sudoku game using musical symbols. Suitable for children aged 8 upwards. It supports learners who enjoy sequencing, patterns, puzzles, promotes memory development.
Dynamic Dots is a graphic score activity introducing the concept of dynamics. Suitable for children from 3 upwards. It supports learners who enjoy sequencing, patterns, exploratory play.
Run Faster is a tempo game based on Jack and the Beanstalk. Suitable for children from 3 up. It is suitable for those who enjoy faster paced activities, promotes memory development.
The games are available from the Rhythm Circle Website, and are playable on tablets, laptops and desktop devices. Each game has a video explainer, and supporting resources including multi-sensory activities to meet a wide range of learning and physical needs including use of movement, colour, scents, and musical timbres. There are PDF activity sheets with ideas to combine multiple musical elements to create more complex graphic score compositions. e.g., make a â€˜Dynamic Dotsâ€™ composition by arranging shapes on a wall where pitch would be indicated by vertical shape.
Support for students who learn and think differently Colour is used extensively as a memory aid and to highlight elements in the games. Colour-coding really helps learners who find it hard to retain new information. The Montessori principle of ‘isolation of elements’ is harnessed to promote focus on the musical element featured in the games. For example, a single shape (with different sizes) and single colour is used to illustrate different levels of volume in the ‘Dynamic Dots’ activity. This reduces ‘visual noise’ which is supportive for those with processing disorders. In the same way, the ‘Run Faster’ game uses the same musical motif played at different speeds to illustrate the element of tempo.
The graphic scores in ‘Dynamic Dots’ introduce users to a very simple and intuitive way of recording and sharing their ideas about music. Graphic scores are highly accessible and can be tailored to the needs of the user. Learners with delayed speech or reading ability may find them helpful in using them to express their musical ideas. An extension activity which can be used in online lessons might include children searching out various objects in their home environment to use in creating their own graphic score. They could then ‘play’ their own scores using body percussion, kitchen percussion or by vocalising. At one of our workshops, students at St. Joseph’s School in Stoke on-Trent tried to create a musical duet by simultaneously playing back their two ‘Dynamic Dot’ compositions from two remote locations. It didn’t quite work as they simply played back their graphic score compositions in the game using the pre-recorded sound samples. Workshop musician Erica Sinclair suggested that they tried physical means instead!
What can you use the games for? Apart from being a useful starting point for musical exploration, the games can be used in a variety of situations – e.g. music lessons, well-being sessions, maths, language lessons. A special school in Leicester asked for a CPD session ahead of using the games with their own students. Feedback from the session told us “There was a good buzz afterwards about what staff might do with the games”. The teachers saw possibilities of using the ‘Dynamic Dots’ game in maths lessons (shapes and sequencing) and ‘Run Faster’ as part of a lesson on traditional tales. The games offer the opportunity for children to engage in independent musical learning outside of the school classroom. Being able to repeat games in their own time and in their own way is fun too: one family reported that their children decided to input wrong answers on purpose just to see what would happen to the characters in the ‘Run Faster’ game. We are currently trialling the games with these target groups:
Mainstream primary school aged children Young people (aged up to 25) with special educational needs and disabilities preschool aged children (aged 3-5 years)
Rhythm Circle’s Digital Games are free to access and use on the website www.rhythmcircle.co.uk/Games.
If you do use the games, the RC Digital Games Project team would love to hear from you so that we can continue refining these resources for everyone to use. You can use the feedback form here. This project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England from the National Lottery Project Grants fund.
Naxos Music Box opens up There’s never been a better time for schools to beef up the breadth of their online resources at relatively little cost, so as to provide more useful material for teachers delivering online or blended learning. One such resource is Naxos Music Box, launched in the summer of 2020. Billed as “a comprehensive introduction to the world of classical music for 4–12-year-olds”, it’s built on the Naxos founder Klaus Heymann’s key philosophy of bringing classical music to as wide as possible an audience. Extensive sections on the orchestra, music history, music around the world, and 50 of the world’s most well-known composers all come accompanied by listening examples drawn from Naxos’ own world-class library of recordings. The education version of Music Box (available only directly from Naxos UK and not from the global website) also has separate log-ins for student and teacher, and provides considerable support for teachers in the way of guidance notes, extended tasks, and clear pathways through the material; at a time where some lessons are covered by non-specialists for Covidrelated absences, this support level is very reassuring for already stretched schools. At the beginning of 2021 when the latest UK lockdown was announced, Naxos took the decision to make Music Box available free of charge for a limited time. Their Education Sales Manager Julian Edwards says: “At the start of January we found ourselves in yet another lockdown and remote teaching situation in the UK, and music educators were crying out for more varied resources to help with blended learning and delivery. We were really pleased to be able to show our support for already under pressure teachers by making Music Box available totally free of charge: over 300 schools and music hubs took up our offer and found it an invaluable resource; many have now subscribed for the year.”
Primary Music Magazine readers can benefit fro published prices for school subscriptions. To tak Naxos’ Music Education Sales Manager Julian Ed
the world of classical music Music Box is also making waves on the education awards scene: in the autumn of 2020 the resource won the Creative Child Awards 2020 ‘Product of the Year’ in the USA, and has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Music Education Resource at the UK’s 2021 Music & Drama Education Awards. As well as the awards buzz, Naxos is already catching the attention of music Hubs in the UK too: primary schools working with Wigan Music Hub will all be given access to the resource as standard from this coming September under a hub-wide deal arranged by Naxos. The Hub’s curriculum Lead Carmel Loughney told us: “Naxos MusicBox is an attractively presented and well organised resource which opens up the world of classical music to teachers, parents and children in a fun and appealing way. Packed with high quality recordings, lesson plans and print outs, we consider Music Box to be an ideal resource to support teachers with the delivery of the music National Curriculum. We are really excited to be introducing this resource to schools across the Wigan borough in 2021.”
Music Box also has the advantage of not making too large a dent in precariously balanced school budgets. There are various pricing models and individual schools can subscribe from just from just £50/year for a class set of user licences.
om a two-week free trial of the resource, and then a 10% discount on the ke advantage of this offer, and for more details on the resource, contact dwards email@example.com / 07768 448381
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