Don’t let your school get stuck in a developmental rut. In the latest IMS Guide - available here - these four disruptive educators share their top tips for doing things a little differently.
There’s been a growing number of headlines pointing out the sharp decline in Music provision in school. Rocksteady Music School, however, is completely bucking the trend with its disruptive approach of teaching children to play in bands from the outset.
If you stopped by our classroom, you would see a room filled with young children who are beginning their journey of learning about science. They would be learning about how science is addressed throughout the world, its future, its history, and the people who have changed this world we live in. You might hear a story that evokes interest and passion regarding the topic they would then chose to research. These stories are the impetus of the emotional journey through their personal learning adventure, and are told with a difference to usual classroom techniques.
When asked about the most memorable songs of all time, what springs to mind? The Killers’ Mr Brightside, Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, or Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean? There are so many songs that no matter how much time has passed, you’re able to sing-along to every lyric without hesitation.
By the time children finish at Primary school they will have written stories, poems, factual accounts, autobiographies essays and plays. But their own song? Hmm, possibly not. It just seems too difficult, too personal and, for many years, way beyond my comfort zone! And yet I’m aware children know hundreds and hundreds of songs. Their whole lives are wrapped in sound, from early nursery rhymes to the latest chart hits. Access to YouTube means that they don’t have to step outside to access songs and music from the whole world over.
Literacy in the choral music classroom is demonstrated when students are able to read pitch notation, manipulate rhythmic symbols, and execute dynamic and technical markings in the written score. Students are simultaneously singing correct pitches, changing the pitch durations according to the rhythmic structure, carefully raising or lowering the volume, and increasing or decreasing tempo of the notes based on the technical instructions notated in the score.
Mrs. Clarke’s third grade students step to the drumbeat as they enter my classroom, joyfully singing the school song. They quickly notice various music notes separated by ‘+’ signs on the board; they know this game well. Hands shoot up. I tap a student, who jumps into action and writes the number ‘7’. “Let’s show our work,” I say. “A quarter note equals–“, “ONE!” the students exclaim. “A half note–“, “TWO!” We continue this call and response for the quarter rest and dotted half note (see image below). “And what do we get?!” “SEVEN!” Smiles abound.
“The Rocksteady day in our school was a wow. I had several parents say to me how inspired their children were.” - Monica Paines, headteacher at Long Ditton Infant School, Surrey
Every parent today will be able to recall their own music lessons at school. Invariably, these memories will either be coloured by the dull experience of having had reams of dry theory drummed into them, or else the sense that they were irrelevant to all but those with access to, and an aptitude for, such traditional instruments as violin, clarinet and cello.
Think tension. Think Music. Think a knife and a shower curtain. Think a rocking boat and glinting teeth...
When teaching my pupils about tension in narrative, I turn to film scores. We’ve all been there: a darkened cinema, the heavy breathing of a potential victim, the slow building music, an increase in heart rate. The scene reaches its climax and the victim is caught by the ghost/vampire/serial killer/rabbit. Now play the scene without the music. Does it have the same impact? Does your heart beat in quite the same way? Why does a building “duh duh…duh duh” have us sprinting for the shore?