At our INSET training at the start of this term, the keynote speaker suggested some really interesting ways to ensure that creativity is at the heart of lessons in every subject area. I think that musically my lessons are are creative. We compose, perform we work informally so that student voice is central to the development of each project. The personalised approaches of the Musical Futures ethos that underpins planning, learning and delivery is creative within itself. However some of the ideas from the keynote made me question whether I am allowing students to really use their imagination to bring their lessons to life, particularly in year 7.

I decided to take our current scheme of work: based on STOMP where students create a piece of music using junk percission. Normally they are asked to include some element of drama, using their music to tell a story. To start with I asked them to make a musical instrument. Apart from the usual shakers there have been some really interesting ones. Check out Connor’s home made bass guitar and James’ drum kit which his dad had to bring in on the back of his truck!

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We then used the instruments as a whole class to explore different sounds and rhythms and to share all the different ways the instruments could be used to produce sounds. Some groups had already decided on a theme for their pieces, but for those that hadn’t I read the class the start of ‘Brother in the Land’ by Robert Swindells. We discussed how it would feel to be a survivor of a massive disaster such as a nuclear attack or natural event. Then we used the words students chose and workshopped rhythms to show how to create tension, how to use silence, how to create an echo to represent loneliness. The groups then broke off to devise their pieces and the final performances will be added to this site very soon for you to hear! We have tried hard to move away from the idea of drama pieces with sound effects to thinking more carefully about what we can do to rhythms, textures and dynamics to represent deeper meaning in music. For homework I asked them to represent their themes and stories in pictures or prose. Saffron, Megan and Melissa thought about being deep below the earth in a cave and used rhythms to represent the sounds around them. Have a look at their homework pieces:

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Jan really hooked onto the idea of ‘survivor’Image

He has been directing his group and has clear ideas about what he wants them to acheive.

Jamie has a great sense of rhythm and has been improvising and composing rhythms with one other boy. His description was typed for him, his literacy difficulties can be a barrier to him expressing himself through writing or typing however his ideas are sound and back up the structure of the piece they have created.

 

Jamie’s Homework                Visual Representations by DA

One of my favourite themes, this group have blended movement and rhythm to create a really interesting fusion!

As I get more examples, I’m going to update this blog and don’t forget to check back for the final recordings when they are complete. I really hope that when some of this goes on display I’ll have an example of a music project that supports and encourages literacy and uses art to enhance what is normally just a music project but more importantly to allow the students to demonstrate that their creativity and imagination goes a lot further than composing and performing their pieces of music.

Some to listen to:

This group started out with the idea that they would use sport as their stimulus. They experimented with throwing balls against the wall and making sounds on their instruments in a way that visually represented different sports. This proved really difficult in a large group of 9, too many ideas, not enough listening and organising. In the last lesson of the project they just started to play together. They improvised then tried to structure their ideas around a rhythm 2 of the strongest musicians busked on the metal supports of the table legs. I like the way they react to each other, the rhythms change subtly, possibly because someone goes wring but the others adjust and the piece continues

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