Friday, June 29, 2012

Helping new teachers teach primary music

I shall be working with some just qualified teachers this week who are taking part in a music teaching pilot for general class teachers. Of all the subjects taught at primary school music seems to be the one that there is most anxiety about. There is is hidden assumption that you have to be be musically gifted before you can begin to teach music and that it is best avoided and left to the "specialists". Regular readers of this blog won't be surprised to learn that I think that is total rubbish and that this hands off approach is denying millions of kids the chance to learn.

 Given that this reluctance exists what can we do to support those brave teaching souls who are prepared (despite not being grade 99 piano) to get stuck in? The first place to start is to suss out the teaching staff. If you can't find anyone who teaches music at your school here is some advice

 1. Use Sing up. 

Even if you work at an unenlightened school that think they they have better things to spend their money do not dismay - you can still stream songs. There are nearly 100 videos on youtube and a whole section on the website with tips and advice. If your school does have membership - even better. You can access the teaching notes and lesson ideas that accompany every song.It isn't aimed at specialist teachers - it is designed to support EVERYONE who works with kids what ever their musical history. And if you do come across a piece of jargon that you don't understand be sure to TELL THEM! It is a really fabulous resource.

  Link to Sing Up 

2. Find your nearest Music Hub. 

Hubs are the latest big idea from the government for organising music education. Mainly they are led by local authority music services. These people are desperate to find teachers who want to champion the arts in school.If you know what you want - suggestions for listening projects, feedback on your kids soundscapes, ideas on how to improve the quality of singing these people will WANT to help you.

  Link to list of music hubs

 3. Make friends with your ICT coordinator.

Tell them you want to explore technology and music making. Ask for access to the school iPad and then look shocked when they say they don't have one. They will be so pleased you have sought them out there is a good chance they will give you preferential treatment with computer time and help you to explore music technology. Even the most cheapskate school generally has 2Simple music toolkit which can be used on an IWB. If they do have an ipad there are some fantastic apps to use to teach music see my earlier post. Top 3 iPad apps

4. Teaching Music UK
 This website may be more detailed than you want but it is jammed full of ideas.I t is really worth registering so you can ask questions on their forum - a very nice person moderates it and will ensure your question is answered. I'm not suggesting he will plan all your music lessons for you but it is a fair bet you will get some brilliant advice and ideas.

  Link to Teaching Music 

5.Twitter There is a brilliant worldwide teacher community on twitter. Follow some music teachers and get a look at the resources they are sharing. I am on as @JackieSchneider and can point you to lots of music teachers

 Here is a presentation I gave at a recent staff meeting to get you going

FINALLY: Don't give up! How ever badly you think it is going what ever you provide will be better than nothing. A calm piece of music to defuse the latest playground scrap - a shared song to bond over - a whole class screeching We are the champions at the tops of their voices, powerful drumming rhythms stamped out and played on the desks - all of these experiences make us more human and are to be celebrated.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My presentation on Music and ICT

This is a presentation I gave on Monday this week.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fun mje alafiah

This is a lovely welcome song. It is from Nigeria and sung in the Yoruba language. It means welcome and blessings. It was taught to me at a Sing Up training day. It is easy and quick to learn and sounds great sung in canon. Listen to the clip below and you will pick it up quickly!
It is one of those wonderful songs that looks deceptively simple but you
do so much with.

Have a listen to us being taught this song

Why not get the djembes out?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ofsted report on music

I am not a fan of Ofsted but I do think that this is a great report on music teaching in schools. I think the slides below are well worth a look though be warned it is a LONG presentation!

Making music with technology

Primary music in Ireland

 I recently came across this website which details the primary music curriculum. Thought it might be worth a look. Just click on the picture above.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Using ICT in primary music

Last week I used 2Simple music toolkit with each year group in the school. The children were very excited and highly motivated. Year 1 did extremely well and were able to find their way around 2Explore, recording their work and selecting instruments of their choice. Year 2 didn't get much further but yr 3 were able to save files. Year 5 and 6 were able to compose and save simple nursery rhymes. using the pitched chime bar options they were able to record fragments of nursery rhymes which yr 1 are going to listen to next week. 

Year 4 looked at 2compose. They have just spent a term learning recorders so have most knowledge of notation. They were able to compose simple tunes and were just starting to understand how to use repeat signs.

It is early days and I am learning alongside the children. My first instinct is to keep going through the programmes. It will never be a replacement for hands on vocal based music lessons but it is another way to introduce musical concepts (such as pulse, pitch, rhythm etc) to the children.  Music technology was clearly identified by Ofsted as an area of weakness of many school music departments. I think that  using 2Simple music toolkit is an easy and non threatening place to start for many primary schools.

Will report back on next weeks progress.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What happens if you sing 3 blind mice at the same time as Frere Jacque?

Just been to a MMF  music coordinators meeting at the Chaucer centre. Lots of great music teachers shared some great songs. I particularly liked this one and so will be using it tomorrow.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to make a banana piano

I so want to make a musical staircase!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections on Peter and the Wolf

I have taught a half term unit of work on Peter and the Wolf to years 1, 2 and 3. I have shared some of the resources on the blog but I just wanted to capture some of my observations whilst it is fresh in my mind.

1. Importance of place.
Many of the children I work with are really reliant on visual cues and find sustained listening difficult unless they are involved. I marked out the room I was teaching in with vast swathes of fabric to create different zones - eg meadow, house, tress, pond, forest. The children didn't need realistic scenery but accepted the fabric. It did involve lots of huffing and puffing from staff as they watched their rooms being dismantled, tables carted over, chairs removed and fabric hung from the ceiling but it was well worth it! We did a couple of drama lessons based on the scenario of a young friendless boy living with his over protective grandad. The kids came up with a host of woodland friends he could play with. When we listened to the music we moved around the different zones. I used a tip that an AST from Wimbledon Park gave me and started in darkness, blacking out the windows and using light from my phone to usher kids into room.

2. Using props.
I used a scrap of fabric to represent the characters - red silk to represent Peter,  fur to be the cat, blanket for wolf etc. The kids accepted this without a seconds hesitation and passed them round to swap roles. I had been nervous that this would break down but kids were happy to comply.

3. Repetition
The kids weren't in the least worried about re working the story and in fact it was really necessary to hear the music over and over for them to be able to pick out different characters and move to the pulse. I think sometimes my fear that class will be 'bored" means I move on to quickly.

4. Music is scarier than pictures.
I did have to be careful at times and stop the lesson and redirect attention at times because many of the children found the wolf and hunters music quite scary. Interestedly it was the menace of the hunters drums that caused most disquiet rather than wolf. We had very interesting philosophical discussions about the death or non death of the duck. I didn't lead discussion on this but simply responded to the childrens own questions.

5. Use of video.
I used 2 videos - the Royal ballet version and the Breakthrough films stop go animation. We had done about 4 weeks work before I showed them as I was keen for the children to build their own mental images before we watched them. I decided against using the Disney version and the Spitting image/muppet version. The kids were absolutely rapt by both versions we watched, really entranced!
I have waxed lyrically before about the breakthrough film but I can honestly say it is the best animated film I have ever seen. I have watched it over 20 times and yet every time I find something new I havent seen before. The sequence with the duck skating matches the music so beautifully it is quite exquisite. The portrayal of Peter as an awkward unhappy damaged child is very touching and his transformation at the end is very moving. We compared similarities and differences of the 2 films.

6. Ipad apps to support

I used "learn the orchestra" on the whiteboard for the children to compose short tunes on bassoon as GrandDad, clarinet as cat etc. This was very popular with the kids and there was some frustration as everyone had great ideas and they had to wait.

There is an ipad book of the film which I have looked at closely. It is beautiful but comes without the music. However if you decide to show your class the movie for PSHE reasons or simply to share in a good film then I would recommend buying it.

I used pupet pal as an after thought with one class to see how well it would work and it was a great success!

The above are just simple examples to see if we could get it to work. next time I would get them to play and record their music with the animation. But you can see just from the short clips what potential this app has!

7. What next?
I have played the classes Romeo and Juliet music which many of them recognise as The Apprentice music. I play to do some work on the Lieutenant Kije in the winter term. I am now looking for suggestions for music I can do an "active listening" project for next summer. Because I took the decision to use the same starting point for 3 year groups it means I won't be re visiting it until 2015! Suggestions for next year?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Olympic opening ceremony at Poplar Primary

Like a lot of schools Poplar Primary will be holding its own special Olympic opening ceremony. I have been busy teaching each year group a song that they will be performing in the ceremony. I have used mainly songs from "Singathlon" by Portsmouth Music Service and from Sing up.

In addition we have been using a  app on the ipad called ianthems (costs 69p)that allows us to play 48 different national anthems. This has been incredibly popular with the children who are thrilled to find anthems from countries they have associations with.

I am planning to use boomwhackers to help follow the olympic torch procession.

Have a listen to some of the songs.

The triathlete by year 5

Aim high by year 6

Learn to swim by year 3

listen to ‘Learn to swim!’ on Audioboo

I've just spotted this on twitter - a link to olympic animations done by pupils at Uphall School