All the news from Musical Futures International
Music class is so much better than in previous years as we now have more independence‟ – Grade 6 student
1) The most recent independent evaluation of our teacher professional learning programme shows that 97% of respondents believe that Musical Futures removes barriers to participation
"MF is the solution to engaging students" – Music teacher
Musical Futures was developed in response to a need to improve music education and in particular to improve access to music making in schools and to increase its relevance to children and young adults. So we are really proud to hear that 97% of respondents to our recent independent evaluation of Musical Futures believe that MF removes barriers to participation. We also loved some of the verbal feedback from our teachers and students involved in a wider series of interviews, so we have shared some more or our favourite quotes throughout this article!
You can read more of our impressive feedback from teachers involved in the first cohort of the Victorian Government PD program here and join the growing numbers of teachers worldwide who report that using music in school results in:
What's not to love about more people making more music for longer?
"There is a buzz around the school about music now" – Music teacher
2) There are many ways to teach music: we help teachers think about how and why they teach it (and make some new friends along the way)!
"The MF PD has moved us out of our comfort zones and helped us relate to student experience" – Music teacher
Music teaching can be an isolated experience and sometimes its's easy to lose sight of your musical roots once the realities of teaching take up more and more of your time! All of our workshops are practical, hands on and musical. We sing, play and always allow plenty of time for networking, sharing and getting to know each other. And it doesn't stop there. We also provide all the resources you need to get started with MF straight away for free and you can even come and join one our international music teacher chat group to continue the discussion as you get to grips with MF in your classroom. Meet the team and find out more about what happens on one of our 2 day intensive workshops here
"Through MF I discovered a new way to teach music, it changed my practice and opened my mind" – Music teacher
3) Our November and January workshops in Asia will be filled with new content and you can be the first to get your hands on it!
"I became a much better musician after MF, I now have the confidence to sing and play unfamiliar instruments" – Music teacher
In the last few months we have announced partnerships to help us keep the 'future' in Musical Futures. We are busy developing Musical Futures Studio, our new approach for music technology in partnership with Soundtrap and Mussila (for younger students) and approaches to progress, progression and assessment in partnership with Trinity College London.
Our new workshops for Musical Futures Styles, songwriting and exploring 'beyond the play along' are all being developed by members of the MF International Team.
And the best bit? All of these new ideas will be part of our day 1 Recharge and day 2 'Further into MF' schedules, or if you are new to MF you can spend day 1 getting up to speed with our core MF approaches Informal Learning, Classroom Workshopping, Find Your Voice and Just Play before going deeper in MF on day 2!
Finally if it's a more intensive introduction to MF that you are after, our 2 day intro workshop in Shanghai in January is the option for you.
We are looking forward to seeing you in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai or Bangkok and if you have any questions drop an email to email@example.com and we will get back to you!
"Since adopting MF I am more relaxed and smile more in class" – Music teacher
8/25/2018 21 Comments
The Musical Futures Australia Professional Learning Program is a Victorian Department of Education sponsored PD program developed to support schools across the state to increase opportunities for all Victorian children and young people to access, participate in and experience quality music education programs. Since the program commenced in August 2015, over 700 schools and nearly 1,200 teachers throughout Victoria have been involved.
The program was instigated following a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the extent, benefits and potential of music education in Victorian schools (The Extent, Benefits and Potential of Music Education in Victorian Schools (2013)) which found there is now significant research which demonstrates that “engagement in the Arts, including music, resulted in higher academic grades, literacy results and attendance for primary school students.”
Some additional context:
•Victoria has no specialist teaching positions as such within the primary system. All primary teachers are determined to be general classroom teachers and that would not change.
•School leadership has the ability to deploy teachers in specialist roles, visual art, PE, music etc. (specialist roles do exist in the secondary system)
•However comparative few schools around 300 of 1,500 primary schools had deployed teachers in the specialist music role resulting in many schools not offering music. DET research suggested that 24% of government schools in 2014 offered a continuous music program.
•The Inquiry determined that more effort was required in primary schools if the benefits of music in school education were to be realised
•A new Australian curriculum was on the horizon that included the teaching of the arts and specifically music within years P-8
The Dandolo Partners Independent Evaluation of the Victorian Musical Futures Australia Professional Development Program was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Education and the evaluation involved around 280 teachers and around 180 schools who participated in the first program cohort.
These teachers and schools had been using Musical Futures approaches and resources for at least 9 months prior to the research taking place.
Scroll down to download the full report and summary of the evaluation.
What they said
From the cohort of 180 schools 24 schools were included in more detailed case studies and the following are an example of some of the feedback from teachers and students who participated:
‘The Musical Futures PD has moved us out of our comfort zones and helped us relate to student experience’ – Music teacher
‘Music class is so much better than in previous years as we now have more independence’ – Grade 6 student
‘I see Musical Futures as a hook to get them interested and to sustain that interest. From there I am able teach them theory and the other elements not explicitly covered by the Musical Futures resource’ – Music teacher
‘I just want to learn and do music’ – Year 7 student
Key Findings, impact and numbers
Teachers report that:
Following the workshops:
Impact on teachers:
68% believe that the program has increased the number of students learning and playing a musical instrument via co-curricular or external programs
Download the Full report and Summary
8/13/2018 1 Comment
, In June 2018, teachers from Australia, New Zealand, America and Asia arrived at the fantastic music space at The Melbourne Graduate School of Education in Melbourne's CBD for 2 days of workshops, discussion and networking for the 2018 Musical Futures International Conference The Big Gig.
The conference opened with a welcome from Director Ian Harvey placing The Big Gig in the context of "keeping the future in Musical Futures" followed by an energetic vocal and body percussion session led by Ollie Tunmer from Beat Goes on UK.
Workshop sessions included an introduction to our new Musical Futures Studio approach to music technology led by Steve Jackman from Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, exploring some new keyboard resources from Little Kids Rock delivered by Scott Burstein, Hip Hop for everyone led by Rapper and Poet Optamus from WA and more!
We also shared outcomes from our recent pilot project with Trinity College London and new workshops from Stephen Sajkowsky and Anna Gower from the MF International delivery team which will form a key part of our workshop program in Asia and Australia in 2018-19 (read more here).
Our panel session entitled 'beyond the 12 notes' included presentations from Nick Beach, Mandy Stefanakis and Tim Patston.
We hope that all of our 200 delegates had an enjoyable, stimulating and challenging time with us at The Big Gig, we look forward to seeing them again at one of our workshops soon.
You can keep up to date with all our new developments, pilot projects and news by joining Musical Futures to receive our newsletter and updates.
The development of video resources to complement Musical Futures teacher development workshops marked a new departure for the organisation when they were first introduced as part of Just Play. Although it isn't the first time that Musical Futures has provided resources to support our approaches, (see Musical Futures UK 'transition project' and Find Your Voice), the video play alongs were originally inspired by the work of Little Kids Rock. Our visit to take part in their workshops and to visit schools showed us how these were a great tool to support teachers and students with first access for popular music education. They help to get students playing together, provide a safety net for students and teachers to experiment with whole class music making and allow students to self-differentiate, ie everyone can take part, regardless of prior musical experience. If you haven't seen the play along videos, this video provides a useful overview of what's involved and how these resources work.
The inclusion of play along videos as part of Just Play had the following aims:
Feedback from teachers has been incredibly positive with regard to the resources and how they help to get all their students playing, skilling them up through playing and learning as they play.
But once they can play what next? Wait for Musical Futures to make and share the next play along? Make your own? Or explore how play alongs are just the start when it comes to getting a little deeper into the real-world approaches that Musical Futures is built on, whilst balancing the need to deliver the depth and breadth of content, knowledge and skills that is surely essential to a 'music education'?
Just Play, Non-Formal Teaching and Informal Learning
At The Big Gig teacher conference, my session looked at moving on from play alongs and into informal learning and non-formal teaching, the approaches to learning and teaching music that are the heart and soul of Musical Futures.
We started by playing a song together along with a video play along. The song I chose simply repeated 4 chords throughout and the video consisted of a simple bass line, a suggested comping rhythm that fitted with the original track and as experienced musicians and teachers, delegates could play it easily. Too easily. Some people started to look bored, the performance lacked energy and didn't do justice to the quality of the musicianship in the room. Whilst some players embellished their lines slightly, most just played what was instructed in the visual cues in the video.
We then reflected on the experience starting by looking at the 3 core strands of Musical Futures, (recently revamped with help from Emily Wilson, PHD student from MGSE). The focus was on understanding the pedagogy that underpins each strand, the role of the teacher in each of these approaches and to put Just Play, the play alongs and what we had just done as a group into the wider context of Musical Futures.
Playing along, musical knowledge and the 5 principles of informal learning
Next we explored the balance between musical skills and knowledge in the context of the diagram above.
There are many papers and chapters that explore what musical knowledge is and how it manifests in various approaches to music education in different contexts. For the purposes of this session, I borrowed a slide from the recent webinar led by Gary Spruce for the MF international teacher community where Gary shared the descriptions below of different musical knowledge types.
This is a great starting point to reflect on what students are actually learning when they engage with a play along. If Just Play is to build foundational musical skills and engage students with music through playing, how can other aspects of Musical Futures (and other approaches) help to move students towards a deeper understanding of what/why/how they are playing and engaging with music and where this could lead?
The next reflection point was how Lucy Green's 5 principles of informal learning fit with music taught through a play along. Thinking about our performance as a group, we worked through each principle and dug a little deeper by reflecting on what we had just done.
On first glance, our whole group performance looked to tick off quite a few of these.
Learning with friends? Well we are all friends in Musical Futures! Learning by listening and copying? Well there was a track playing so therefore that must be how we learned. Students chose the music? Well that's just not possible when it comes to whole class music making, plus you have to choose songs with chords that can be played on the instruments available. Integration of listening, performing, composing and improvising? Well kind of......Maybe a bit.....
However, when we discussed what we had just done as musicians as we played as a band with a play along video, we realised that actually the actions of following the visual cues in the video had probably been more significant than picking out the main elements of the song by ear.
Our conclusions were that although on the surface Just Play 'sort of fits' there may be other ways to explore the same song that get us a little closer to informal learning in a whole class situation than using a play along.
Could we answer questions about the piece we had just played?
Finally I asked the group 3 questions about the piece:
1) Can you sing the bass line from the song (which was a riff rather than just based on the root notes of each chord)
2) Can you clap the key rhythmic patterns on which the groove was based?
3) Can you sing or play any of the 12 melodic riffs that appear in different forms within the song?
This activity revealed that despite us playing the song and claiming to have listened as we played, most groups were unable to answer the 3 questions very well. Exploring the song through a play along meant we could play it, but we had really only scratched the surface in terms of understanding it.
Classroom workshopping and the place of notation in Musical Futures
Using the same song as a start point we then put together a whole class workshop. With the track playing we worked through the following activities (and others as they happened) before setting up a groove based on the original chord sequence and subsequent musical ideas that had developed from within the group.
Finally we played the original song again with the play along video. The performance had so much more in it with people singing, improvising, adding harmonies, far more of the original riffs and even the groove itself had far more energy!
Beyond the play along...
As we revisited each of the discussion points again, knowledge types, the informal learning principles and my 3 questions about the piece, the following emerged:
If you would like to give this workshop a go as a participant (and find out which song I used as the basis for the session), I will be delivering it as part of our Musical Futures workshops in Asia in November and January.
Anna Gower worked for over 18 years as a classroom music teacher, Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Department and Head of Community Music. A freelance music education consultant in the UK and founder core team member of Musical Futures and now Head of Training and Development for Musical Futures International, Anna has supported the work of many organisations including Music Mark, Trinity College London, Little Kids Rock and The BBC as well as working with Music Education Hubs across the UK and delivering workshops across Asia, America, Australia and New Zealand.
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