Anyone who has attended a Musical Futures CPD day will have explored the classroom workshopping project, moving from warm-ups to rhythmic improvisation which is then transferred to instruments to create a ‘groove’ from which a large-group composition can be created. At Monk’s Walk we have worked really hard to find ways to include this approach into every topic we do, but it would seem from feedback to Musical Futures that this is the approach that teachers feel least confident in embedding into their lessons. If they use it at all then it tends to just be as it is laid out in the teacher pack or as they have experienced on the training. So what can we do to give teachers the confidence to act as composers and arrangers in the classroom with 30 noisy children all holding an instrument?!

This week we invited Robert Wells, musician, composer and classroom workshopping expert into school to work with year 7 and 8 students. Year 8 explored jazz and blues while year 7 learned how to alter the chords they have learned to play the song Passenger to create a completely new composition. The ideas he tried will be formulated into a new training course to show the ‘next steps’ with classroom workshopping.

If anyone is in doubt of the value of classroom workshopping to the students, read their feedback from Rob’s lessons. As ever, student voice is the most useful means of finding out if you have got it right and they are very happy to give you their honest opinions!

If you are interested in attending the new course for practical ideas for classroom workshopping to use in your classroom, bookmark the Musical Futures training page as these will be opening for bookings very soon. In the meantime, follow @musicalfutures on twitter for updates and information or use #musicalfutures to give your feedback.

  • Instead of playing straight boring c’s we jazzed it up and we put a different speed to it.
  • Overall I thought the lesson was fun and educational which I like.
  • I played the bass guitar for the first time, and I enjoyed it. It was a bit complicated at first, but when I got used to it I was glad I had volunteered as otherwise I would have played a percussion instrument which I wouldn’t have particularly wanted to as I played the cymbal on the drums a couple of lessons ago. I thought the teacher was good as well.
  • This lesson I was on bass guitar for the first time. it was hard at first but I got it after.
  • I think the lesson today was quite fun because it was a change from what we normally do.
  • We sounded quite good and had an amazing swing rhythm that helped how it sounded.
  • We eventually formed a song with singing out of it (which actually sounded pretty good!)
  • I liked how me Lucy, Ellie and Sian all got to go into the hall with Mrs Hannan and make up some lyrics then we were allowed to do whatever harmonies we wanted.
  • I think you could have improved the lesson by giving us more time to practise but other than that I really enjoyed it.
  • At the start of the lesson we done rhythm and beats to get into the blues music. After we done that we worked as a class to produce a blues piece.
  • My favourite aspect was working together in a whole class-I like this better as when I work in groups (I feel) I don’t reach my full potential. I also liked the start where they slowly introduced us into what we were going to do for the majority of the lesson.
  • In today’s lesson, the visitor was great fun and really helped me understand different rhythms and beats. Once we had got on the instruments, I played the keyboard and really enjoyed playing the blues on it. I think I could have improved today by making my part more complex by improving each hand by adding different rhythms.
  • This week, everyone joined into a massive band. We all took part. Some people sung, played guitar, drums, piano, beat boxing or tambourine. It was very enjoyable. The people who came in to help in music lessons really helped us to stay in time. I think everyone was pleased with what they were doing.
  • I think we ought to have him (Or someone similar) at the end/start, of each piece.
  • I like the warm up because how we played games. I thought it was a fantastic how we had the same notes but changes the order. It made me think what you could do with a song.
  • I think I do really well on my drums but good isn’t enough I have to practice more and maybe on the next lesson after half term ill get everything right.
  • The lesson was really fun and i enjoyed picking out a few notes and making a bigger song.
  • I like music beacause it is fun and i have learnt a lot.
  • The beginning of today’s music lesson was one of the best starts to a lesson I’ve ever had.
  • Good lesson today cant wait till we do another lesson:)
  • We played our instruments and near the end of the lesson we took out some notes and only played the first and third chord but to my surprise I personally liked it better than the full version and found it easier. Over all it was a good lesson.
  • Instead of doing the Passenger in little bands we did it all together as a class. It sounded really great.
  • We did our 4 notes then we did two and played just two and changed it a bit . It sounded very good.
  • I liked this lesson because we had the freedom to make a song in our own style!