Help the children in your class to understand and appreciate music and you’ll be giving them pleasure that lasts a lifetime.
In September 2010 the government launched an independent review into music education, with Education Secretary Michael Gove commenting that ‘to experience and understand music is central to raising standards. It has long been acknowledged that good music education goes hand in hand with improved standards in attention, concentration and behaviour, as well as providing a boost to numeracy and language skills. If you are an accomplished musician yourself you may recognise the truth in all of this, but what if you’re not? Sadly, many teachers have not had the experience of learning a musical instrument, or the opportunity to immerse themselves in music of all kinds and cultures, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t teach it successfully and broaden your own love of music at the same time.
Let’s start at the very beginning
Building a firm foundation for an education in music which, with your help will last a lifetime for those you teach, lies in an understanding and appreciation of a whole range of different kinds of music. Whether or not you appreciate classical music on a personal level, you should definitely seek to include a variety of sounds from across the centuries in your pupils’ listening repertoire. Teaching Trends Famous Composers chart (£4.07) is a good place to start. If the children understand a little bit about the composer whose music you’re encouraging them to listen to and what kind of life they lived, it helps them to understand that the music comes from real people not unlike themselves. It’s also important to include music from different cultures in your repertoire and if at all possible, to find some parents/friends who would be willing to come and perform ‘live’ music for the children.
A very good place to start
It’s also part of the National Curriculum’s aims for teaching music that children should understand how music is produced with different instruments and again, you can reinforce this information with the Teaching Trends Musical Instruments chart (£1.99) which illustrates woodwind, percussion, brass, strings and guitars. If you have a music shop locally you may be able to persuade them to let you take the children for a guided tour or get staff to bring some instruments into class. The Museum of Musical Instruments at the Royal College of Music in London is also well worth a visit and there are also free events open to the public (www.rcm.ac.uk). Check your nearest music college or university department for events in your area.
When you read you begin with
As children become accustomed to the ‘language’ of music you can introduce them to the ‘alphabet’. The Teaching Trends Music Symbols bulletin board set, (£12.98) shows the basic symbols and terminology and also includes two wipe-off staffs for children to practise simple composition or record notes they hear. The pack includes 20 pieces. If you have access to a portable keyboard or piano you can have unlimited fun with this.
When you sing you begin with
If music and especially performance is not your thing it can be a test of your teaching confidence, more than with most subjects, for you to teach music. But remember that all your teaching involves performance and the children are likely to be your best audience.
The first three notes just happen to be
Whether you’re teaching the children the most basic stages of percussion music-making or to harmonise singing in a choir they should be given the opportunity for performance. Performing music will increase their listening skills, aid their creativity and intuition and enhance their self-confidence and co-operation with others. Performing in school assemblies, before you move on to the big time, is ideal because it is relatively low-key, while incorporating an ‘audience’ that is likely to be both supportive and appreciative.
Coming Soon: Teaching Trends is currently exploring a whole range of musical instruments from across the world, with a view to introducing the best selection to our range. So watch this space.