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Will you pledge to #talklessplaymore in your music lessons this year?
Our #talklessplaymore campaign has been inspired by the willingness of Musical Futures teachers to share their experiences, both formative and the performances that are showcased during lessons and in concerts across the world.
We want to amplify the music that matters to our students by celebrating music lessons that start with the music and build learning from there.
Since its inception, Musical Futures has sought to engage with teachers in classrooms choosing to learn from and respond to what was happening in the classroom whilst growing a community of teachers who were willing to share and reflect honestly on their own practice and the responses and feedback from their students.
So as more teachers got on board with the take, use, innovate and share ethos that has always been an essential part of what Musical Futures is, classroom practice has helped to shape what started out as a 2 year research project into one of the leading global education initiatives of its time.
Whether you use Musical Futures or not, we would love to hear what your students are performing and creating in your classroom this year.
Here's how to get involved:
1) Register to join Musical Futures and you will be sent our comprehensive Musical Futures teacher resource pack
2) Make sure you have permissions in place to share student work via social media, within your own school policy
3) Use #talklessplaymore on any posts that you make and share your video or audio recordings on any of the following channels:
We are looking forward to forward to a rocking 2018 and we hope you can be part of our #talklessplaymore 2018 campaign to ensure that students really do have a musical future!
Musical Futures International are offering 2 day workshops in Asia throughout 2018-19, read more....
I work at a small international school of about 450 kids. We do the IPC In primary, KS3, IGCSE and IB and our students come mostly from Korea and Vietnam.
Playing instruments in this region of the world is supported by most parents in some cases very strongly. I have students in year 12 who are working on concertos for their instruments. The downside however is that after a certain period many end up going to business schools and never touching an instrument again.
Music and Drama were 1 subject before I arrived and I have been slowly building up the KS3 curriculum for music. When I worked in the UK I found the schemes of work very enriching and interesting but the time frame to deliver them was a little unrealistic. In 6 lessons I was supposed to teach students about blues and jazz and then move on.
In the international school setting I have no Ofsted to worry about so I can take my time. For example I have just spent an entire term with year 8 doing blues and Jazz. They can improvise confidently and they can hear the changes very well and they composed their own blues lyrics.
With year 9 I also spent a whole term doing music for films. The quality of the work is so much better when we have time to feedback and make changes a few times.
I will be head of creative and performing arts next year which I am really excited about. One of my curiosities will be to look at more Musical Futures in KS3 and also to see whether there are similar approaches to Musical Futures in design, visual arts and theatre. I’m a strong advocate for cultivating informal learning. When designed well, informal learning leads to lifelong learning which is more than a buzzword in international education, it’s what students need in order to adapt in the 21st century information-frenzied environment.
Felipe Nurmi is Secondary Music, Global Perspectives and Student Voice Co-ordinator at Renaissance International School in Vietnam.
Renaisound (school radio station): https://soundcloud.com/user-555801284
If you would like to share your Musical Futures story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
12/1/2017 2 Comments
Anna will be joining the Musical Futures International delivery team for our forthcoming workshops in 2018
In my recent blog post I reflected on skills and knowledge in the music curriculum and in this one I aim to continue the theme of stripping the debate right back to the real core components of music teaching and learning.
One of the true core elements of any musical experience, of course, is the music. But what place does 'the music' occupy in music education and more specifically how music is taught and learned?
One thing I have always wondered as a teacher is whether it is possible to teach music only through music making? What if you couldn't lecture or explain and there were no power points or worksheets to support? What if we really did talk less and play more in music lessons? How might practice need to change?
In October 2017, as guests of The China Musical Instrument Association, Best Friends Music and Culture and Dalian Fuyin Music I was part of the Musical Futures International team delivering workshops to teachers in China. The delegates were instrumental teachers, some were working in retail stores in Shanghai and others were teachers from a music school in Dalian with a focus on Rock and Pop teaching to individuals. Most had little or no experience of playing or teaching in groups.
We ran 4 workshops with 3 different groups, each with around 30-35 participants. We had a few translated materials, a translator (who was not a musician!) and perhaps one or two people out of each with some understanding of English (bearing in mind that understanding the words didn't always translate into understanding the concepts and meaning behind those words).
To make things harder, the generally understood non verbal gestures or assumed cultural understanding around music teaching and music making that I so rely on weren't there either.
For this reason, China felt like the most 'foreign' place I have been to. And I had a job to do without any of the tools that have become such a key part of how I teach.
I had always wondered, is it really possible to communicate both musical skills and understanding of key concepts and approaches when the language, experiential and cultural divide is so wide?
How would I need to flex and respond, adapt my approach to keep everyone engaged, make sure they understood what to do, get them playing instruments they had never played in ways they had never played music before and communicate the key messages of the workshop-all things I do all the time, yet always with the safety net of being able to stop, explain and move on.
The critical moment came during the 4th of the 4 workshops. Suddenly there was a shift in the room and we all clicked discernibly into mutual understanding.
It happened while we were playing.
All we had in common was the music and all of the learning had to start from that mutual common ground we felt as we played together. Then by stripping back any explanation or teaching points to the simplest key points through the interpreter we found our rhythm together.
It wasn't about skills and it wasn't about knowledge or assessment or selling a resource. It was about making a perceptible shift together towards something. It was amazing. It truly felt that we were 'starting from the music' and it happened because the default tools of my trade weren't there to get in the way of that.
From this experience came 2 new key areas for Musical Futures International to consider in relation to the teacher development work that the organisation delivers across the world.
"There are many different ways to learn music.
We help teachers to think differently about how and why they teach it."
And a few more general questions:
1. When we say start with the music, which music? Music they choose or music that is chosen for them? Music that teaches something or music that is enjoyed purely for the experience? 'My music', 'your music' or 'our music'? Where in this conundrum does the notion of a 'broad and balanced' curriculum fit?
2. What skills, knowledge, experience, confidence and support might teachers need to deliver music teaching that is solely based on 'the music'?
3. Finally, what might the benefits be for teachers and students to learn music in this way?
In the absence of any video of that key moment (because I was too busy doing it to film it!), there is a playlist of little moments captured throughout the trip.
To finish, I have chosen a couple of photos that sum up the experience for me.
This teacher caught my attention throughout the workshops because I could see on his face everything from total bafflement when he tried to play ukulele for the first time to that lightbulb moment of shared understanding. We couldn't discuss it, talk it over, I have no idea how he felt after the workshops, I don't know his name.
But I will always remember his journey across the 2 days that we worked together and I wonder if he felt the same as me in that moment where we realised that playing, exploring, creating and 'doing' music truly does bring people together.
Anna Gower worked for over 18 years as a classroom music teacher, Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Department and Head of Community Music linking primary and secondary students and teachers through music projects and events.
As a freelance music education consultant and in various roles for Musical Futures UK, Anna has delivered keynote presentations, workshops and supported the work of many organisations including Music Mark, ISME OMEA, SAME, Little Kids Rock and The BBC as well as working with Music Education Hubs across the UK.
Anna's most recent role before joining the team at Trinity College London, where she now works as Lead Academic-Music, Europe, was as Head of Training for Musical Futures UK.
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