Music Teacher / Educator
I have been passed that I took the course ‘The place of music in 21st-century education’ as it gave myself lots of great ideas moving forward and reaffirmed some older ideas in how to teach and enthuse learners.
Firstly it reminded me of the importance of my role as a music teacher, as James Humberstone (2016) said ‘that for many students you may be the only music teacher that they come across in their whole lifetime.’ That it is up to ourselves to give a lasting impression of what quality music education is.
It has primarily made myself ask what is the role of the music teacher and what do we want students to learn as a music teacher. First and firepower we want students to enjoy music education and be happy and fulfilled learners. Secondly that students develop their creativity, that they are allowed inquire to come up a wide variety of expression and outcomes. Finally developing musical skills as a musician, but learning in a way that suits the individual needs of the students.
This is where pluralist music learning can play a key role in music education. That we understand all our students are different with different ways of learning and different cultures. That we recognize that students learn differently too. Therefore having different approaches to the same outcome provides more scope to create an education that is tailored to students needs. At the same time, allowing students to toa wide range of musical exposure, of styles, genres and approaches to music.
Therefore I am relooking at my units to see if the units are allowing for a pluralistic approach to learning. They are allowing room for creative thinking and for developing musical skills. I would also categorise the units into three areas presenting, creating and exploring for the middle years. This also aligns with the new IBDP coursework units starting this year. Therefore there is continuity in students learning.
Exploring is allowing for inquiry-based learning and project-based learning. That students have to find out, research, develop skills, and find musical information to carry out their project-based learning.
Creating is about problem-solving, challenging ideas, problem-solving and coming up with solutions. Developing creative thinking skills is not just about coming up with new ideas, but also testing them, being reflective and looking for areas of improvement.
Presenting is about how you give the idea, whether it is as a performance, or a recording or a film? Does the creation need editing? Will it be produced online? What makes a good presentation? Why is it important in music?
The bottom line is to be a pioneer in music education and to rethink music education, but not necessarily abandon its traditional roots. There is a place for all kinds of music in music education from classical music to rock and pop as well as everything in-between. Therefore adopting a pluralistic approach allows for an educational shift to focus on creativity at the core of music, which in turn builds innovation.
It is also important to note that at the heart of music is community. The stronger projects that have been developed at school are when the students come together. This why things like concerts, ensembles and productions are important as it teaches students to be part of a community but also create something that is better than themselves. To rely on others and work together for common goals.
The University of Sydney (2016) The place of music in 21st Century Education. Available at https://coursera.org/share/141ffc5479f6b8f7253103b458cb66d5 Accessed on 3rd August 2020
A pluralist approach to music teaching is recognizing that there is more than one way to be creative and to produce music. James Humberstone, explains this as a ‘Classical Approach’ and a ‘DJ songwriting’ approach. A pluralist approach can provide many more options than this. The idea is that there is no one size fits all in education.
One example is a unit that I run which focuses on music that inspired change or dealt with a social issue. The unit allows for scope for the students to explore and be creative. The assessment is based on the main areas of presenting, creating and performing. Therefore students have to give a presentation on a song or piece of music on an issue that the student is invested in. Including the musical qualities of the song. How it was composed and what inspired the composer. The student then takes those ideas to create their own song about the social issue and then record or perform the music. It allows for inquiry, it allows multiple genres to be explored and a range of skill developments personalised for each student. It is also authentic as the student writes about an issue that they care about, they understand more about the context of music written in a similar genre and they can draw on both musical and conceptual ideas to create their own music. It also allows for a varied approach and output that students can share and inspire one another.
Humberstone, J. (2015) Defining Creativity for a More Pluralist Approach to Music Education. University of Sydney
You were introduced to the DAW (or sequencer), the step sequencer, and a range of notation software. Do you feel you would like to explore any of these technologies further?
In our school, we have already set up initiatives to examine and expand music technology including the possibility of adding a recording studio into a new building. In the meantime we took a smaller room and added some recording interfaces as well as a midi keyboard for students to explore and create music of their own.
Have you been persuaded that the DJ-producer does have an awful lot of sophisticated musical skills?
DJ’s have to have a great deal of understanding of the elements of music and how they work together. DJ’S are also using their listening skills critically for sustained periods of time. They are listening to the mix, samples, tempo, pitch, texture and hearing how they are fitting together. Then making the decision of how to change and manipulate the elements to keep the music dynamic and interesting. This is either improvised or rehearsed like any skilled instrumentalist. They also have to understand and rehearse their instrument like any other skilled musician. What a DJ has done has expanded the parameters of what a musician can be. It open up the possibilities of music and what makes a musician in the future.
Do you agree with David Price that learning has gone "OPEN"?
I agree that learning has gone more open but it is not completely open. One example is the TES online resources which I was originally for teachers to offer resources and materials free to other teachers. A few years ago they changed their policy to allow them to charge for the resources they create. It changed from a great Creative Commons project to an enterprise for people to earn a little extra money. Therefore online there is a great abundance of open source material available to use along with a wealth of paid or subscription material. If people want a quality resource or a quality or an accredited course they are still willing to pay money for the qualification.
What were the best examples of OPEN learning that you found either in the course content, in your own searching, or the work of your peers?
I was able to find a whole wealth of open resources on the internet and compiled them in my blog post. For music learning I thought the Beat goes On, Ollie Tumner is fantastic four demonstration videos of how to do body percussion. It is great as it is interactive, fun and a great building block for building rhythms.
What does Project-Based Learning (or the other BLs) have to offer Music Education? And what does Music Education have to offer Project Based Learning, and all learning, in the 21st Century?
I have promoted a great deal of project or inquiry based learning in my own teaching with great success. Designing the project Orem starts with the outcome of what I want the students to learn and produce and work backwards with what skills are needed to develop and scale to produce a successful learning outcome.
This is a list of Open Learning sources I have found out there that maybe useful for music educators.
Daily Body Percussion Sessions from Ollie Turner and Beat Goes On. Tune in daily to try out different body percussion techniques
Cool for School - Dance Moves
Make a homemade instrument - Some ideas to design and create your own instrument
Play rhythms and percussion using cups - With Kaboom Percussion
Online Guitar Lessons - With Little Kids Rock
Create music with the Sampulator
Explore the Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra - With Carnegie Hall
Discover Opera - The Royal Opera House - London
Play the Ukulele - Play with Bree
Arts Live - Activities at home
The Digital Concert Hall - By the Berlin Philharmonic is now free
Polish up those DJ Skills
Fender is offering Free Guitar Lessons
Drum School Lessons
Live Stream Classical Concerts - Source - Classic FM
Classic FM has released an extensive list of live stream musical concerts.
Before considering how much music technology should be integrated into music lessons, it must be first considered what the objectives of music education are and what we want it to look like. For myself, music education should be inclusive, where all students of different backgrounds and abilities can be involved in music and be able to perform and create. Technology allows teachers to create opportunities for learning for all students, it also allows students to be autonomous in their learning to allow for inquiry, authentic learning and skill development.
This is where Richard Gill (2016) said that in music education there is not one size that fits all and we should not teaching one style of music. Music is also consumed by people differently as many more people are using streaming services and especially during the Co-Vid 19 pandemic (Westcott Grant, 2020)
This has also meant the way we teach music has been different and we have had to rely on technology to give students any form of music education. From personal experience, having to rely on technology so quickly lead to a lot of problems, and having to share ideas, problems and solutions with other teachers going through the same process.
Going through the pandemic had given me a better understanding of music education. The most successful projects we encountered with teaching online involved working as a community and collaboration. Programs like Soundtrap were more successful than GarageBand for the reason that students could collaborate on the same project. Also, as a teacher, I could drop in on a project at any time. See the conversations and give immediate feedback. I believe that the technology programs that allow a level of collaboration and allow development for various levels are the most successful.
Moreover the experience of music is charging and is different. Bauer (2014) highlights that students can have a more ‘do it yourself’ attitude to learning through technology, that they can make music using mobile technologies and online. What can follow is that students develop through constructed and experiential learning.
From understanding the learning objectives of the students, it follows three understanding of what the technology can be used for. The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) model is useful in categorising and understanding the types of music technology in their varied forms (Puentedura, 2008.)
From Schrock’s (2013) visualisation we can see how it is a useful tool to relate to other critical and creative thinking models such as Blooms. Purely using technology to substitute or augment tasks, function within the lower orders of critical thinking. Where technology has new functionality where it is modified or redesigned, it allows students to access the higher order thinking skills such as analysing, evaluating and creating. This is why initiatives like maker-spaces are so exciting because it allows students to problem solve and be more critical in their learning. Therefore when looking at the technology we use we should consider how are we going to make students use their higher lieder critical thinking skills as well as developing performing and creating skills which are equally important in music.
Bauer, W. (2014) Music learning and technology. New Directions: A Journal of Scholarship, Creativity, and Leadership in Music Education 1 (1). Available at: http://nd.music.msu.edu/music-learning-technology-william-bauer/ Accessed on: 1st August 2020
Puentedura, R. (2008). TPCK and SAMR: Models for enhancing technology integration. In, As we may teach: Educational technology, from theory into practice. Maine Department of Education.
Schrock, K. (2013) SAMR Model and Bloom's Educators design. Available at: http://www.schrockguide.net/uploads/3/9/2/2/392267/2797403_orig.jpg Accessed on: 1st August 2020
The University of Sydney (2016) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/756064bb20bc2b5141b902b7e6011188 Accessed on: 31st July 2020
Westcott Grant, K (2020) The Future Of Music Streaming: How COVID-19 Has Amplified Emerging Forms Of Music Consumption. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinwestcottgrant/2020/05/16/the-future-of-music-streaming-how-covid-19-has-amplified-emerging-forms-of-music-consumption/#43fbf7b0444a Accessed on: 1st August 2020
The video from Richard Gill (2016a) provoked some interesting ideas on how to approach music. That students first need to fall in love with music before anything else. That students from a young age should start singing to appreciate music but also learn about melody, rhythm and that making music is being part of a community.
What was also fascinating that Richard Gill said is about understanding the value of music from Lady Ga-Ga to Mozart that we should start from the music that students love but expand to let students learn and improve themselves. To quote “A lot of people say, I know how we'll get to these kids, we'll do pop music all day, every day. Nothing wrong with pop music, but it's a bit like saying, I know how to feed these children. We're going to give them Mars bars every day.” Meaning that there is great value in pop music but there is a whole wealth of music to explore.
Therefore, as educators, we should encourage students to find their own path in music. There isn’t one option, there isn’t one repertoire for students to follow that is the correct way to teach music. The musician Francis Xavier(2016b) in the video shows how he was introduced to creating music by the community he was involved in and that music is made through sharing ideas and breeding creativity.
In Lucy Green’s book ‘Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy’ (2008) she talks about how informal learning by learning in friendship groups is a more authentic way of learning and students respond better to this way of learning. What happens is that students are able to see and understand why this way of learning is relevant to themselves and the impact it can have on themselves to create something worthwhile. That the tasks set are not arbitrary but instead exciting and engaging.
Green, L. (2008). Music, informal learning and the school: A new classroom pedagogy. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
The University of Sydney (2016a) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/756064bb20bc2b5141b902b7e6011188 Accessed On 31st July 2020
The University of Sydney (2016b) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/6d292c233bf19e3d8e1382c2250ff561 Accessed On 31st July 2020
This is short video on my musings of my educational philosophy of teaching music.
OnTask 1 - Online MOOC
Outlining your position on the question of how much technology and the cultures around digital technology should influence education, and music education, in the 21st Century. My response
For myself, music education embraces technology because it makes music more accessible to students of all ages and abilities. Just like the first video in the course from Northern Beaches Christian School in Australia they promote mixing year groups to extend the learning of younger students and the consolidation of learning for older students (The University of Sydney, 2007a). What was fantastic is that students could work at their own pace in their own time to create and perform music. What was also great was space that was designed to be flexible for the learner. The learner has the opportunity to use the space in order of they want to create. This is what I aspire to do my own classroom, to create pockets of spaces that the learner can go into to work independently or collaboratively with others to create music. Moreover, in the second video, they explain that there is a consistency of learning and the learning style over six years (The University of Sydney, 2007b). Providing consistency of education over six is great for giving students a steady and consistent pathway for learning and creating. Also to develop skills and knowledge over a course of time. In contrast, the Steiner style of education is also appealing because of the sense of community it brings to learning(The University of Sydney, 2007c). With working as a community it gives the music a true essence of belonging and purpose within the culture of the school. Having no technology allows students to develop their skills such as listening, improvisation, performance and creativity differently than using music technology. They are able to carefully consider the arts and how they are applied into all of the classes. The students are allowed to express themselves and give their ideas. Also instilling pride and worth of what they are creating (Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School, 2014). However, using music technology allows interaction with the modern world and for students to put their work in a domain that can produce endless possibilities.
Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School (2014) The Kamaroi Difference. Available at: https://vimeo.com/68889303 Accessed on: 24th July 2020
The University of Sydney (2016a) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/52d33a1676c941bf8134af4438872ddc Accessed On 24th July 2020
The University of Sydney (2007b) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/74e6922c3e7bb7510311d643d6f1a985 Accessed On 24th July 2020
The University of Sydney (2007c) The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Available at: https://coursera.org/share/bfeed9b00f3d4eb5dd71bfb4ac827ea3 Accessed On 24th July 2020
I have started a new online MOOc with Coursera about The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. Hopefully this will give great ideas to incorporate into the classroom.
I am happy that EARCOS has published my article on Learning Spaces for their latest Triannual Journal.
To read the article you can find it here.
I am the High School Music teacher at GEMS World Academy in Singapore. I have a passion for seeing students improve and develop by performing and creating music.