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Our spotlight series explores the musical stories and experiences that first bring people to music and what it is that inspires a lifelong love of music and the drive to share that through teaching music to others.
Nyah District PS is a primary school with approximately sixty students, from foundation to year six divided, into three classes. There are three full time teachers, two part time and a Principal as well as two teacher support officers. I work there as a volunteer having worked at the school for eight years as part of a Shared Music Teacher Cluster until I retired at the end of 2016.
In 2017, the school did not offer a music program. At the beginning of 2018, I volunteered to take classes in Music: each class to have an hour session each week. The Principal accepted my offer. I did however, as part of the agreement, ask that the school have teachers trained to, at some time in the future, to take over the program. My aim was to get the staff members to develop their instrumental skills to a point where they can begin to take over or at least follow up what I am doing with their classes.
About our training program
In 2018 we had an introductory session of one and a half hours which encompassed an introduction to ukulele as well as chair drumming and using boomwackers. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we couldn’t organise any follow up sessions during the rest of the year.
In 2019 we planned three sessions. Two of the full time staff involved were new so we decided to run a similar first session to the previous one with ukuleles forming the basis of the session. The school purchased ukuleles for each participant.
Our content was based on the Musical Futures Australia workshops program which I attended as a teacher. I decided to organise the sessions as follows:
b) Tricks and Tweaks
c) Basic Chords / strumming
b) Using what equipment that is available
I was pleased with the feedback which I feel demonstrates the strength of in-school peer to peer training for non-specialist primary teachers and the transferability of the Musical Futures International approaches and resources
"Thank you for running the Musical Futures PD with staff. My feedback on the sessions you have conducted is extremely positive. The staff appeared to enjoy the sessions and it was a great way for us to improve our Professional Learning in a supportive way, through music. Staff enjoyed the opportunity to learn some of what their children are doing with you in class. It was aimed at our point of need and each sessions built well on the skills and knowledge we had gained.
The range of instruments we got to use was extensive and you catered for all of us with our different abilities. We had a lot of fun, there were plenty of smiles and the collegiality and collaboration you fostered was a benefit to all staff. Thanks again for the sessions and the skills we gained."
"Thanks, Dennis, for a great PD! I looked forward to, and really enjoyed each session. So nice to do something different and take our minds off other aspects of schooling. Also could you please email me those two junior songs you showed us yesterday. I want to play them for my kids at home while my C, G and F chords are still fresh in my mind! "
"Great to have a PD in something other than Literacy/Numeracy which I could use in the classroom"
"Enjoyed all of the sessions and really keen to practise with my ukulele"
"Thank you for taking us through Musical Futures. For someone like myself who does not have a background in music, I found it to be very engaging and fun for everyone involved. It has been a great time learning and laughing throughout the program"
"Dennis music PD sessions suited my needs and allowed me to be:
I am looking forward to seeing how the teachers use some of the musical ideas with their classes in the next few months!
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