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Updated: May 5, 2022

After catching COVID in Week Three of the semester, I've recovered and finally managed to rejoin my peers in classes. This week I had a few assessments to complete, including Introducing Jazz in the Curriculum, and a peer teaching assignment on starter activities.

My lesson plan is based on the premise that over a unit of study students will be constructing their own band to perform pop songs, with this lesson being an introduction to drum kit and the rock beat. I ended up changing my lesson plan last minute from using body percussion to allow students to make themselves into a drum kit, to using chairs and drumsticks to let students practice playing a rock beat on a kind of make shift drum kit - using the seat as a snare, the back of the chair as a hi-hat and their foot to imitate a kick.

I think with some more planning and a few tweaks this would be a great starter activity to engage students and get them musicking in the very beginning of the lessons.

Improvising and being flexible during my lessons has always been one of my best skills and usually benefits my teaching enormously (and certainly did on prac and in my own teaching), however in assessment tasks I need to learn to trust the preparation I've done and stick to the plan.

One of my favourite activities from this week was cutting together the recordings we did in MUED4002 Week 3 of Taylor Swift's Love Story to make a mini music video. I've really been enjoying this approach in both Technology in Music Education and Popular Music of mini project based learning assignments and learning skills on the go with real incentives. I haven't quite finished putting the video together but hopefully I'll be able to post it here soon!

I've also been enjoying using more technology in my own teaching. This weekend one of my students came in with the hiccups and was having difficulty singing, so we took the opportunity to use the FlipSamples app James had introduced to me in week 1 to make a backing track for one of the songs she is singing. I was able to give her a brief run down of a rock beat and the different parts of the drum kit, but I also noticed that it really made her listen to more of the song than just the melody, and she began observing claps and clicks in different parts of the song. She also was paying more attention to the structure of the song, observing the varies chorus, pre chorus and verses which was really awesome to see. In one activity, she was able to perform, compose and listen to create a final outcome she was able to then show her parents.

This is my mini performance (and a little demo on how we put it together) of the loops we made for Welcome To New York.

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Updated: May 5, 2022

This week, though arguably less productive thanks to the "rain bomb" that drenched Sydney from Wednesday to Thursday, was an exciting week in terms of job and performance opportunities. I was super lucky to book a couple gigs leading up to easter with an Anglican church, but even more excitingly, I've been asked to return to my prac school to design and run a music program for Early Stage 1 through to Stage 3, the support unit, and their affiliated preschool as a School Learning and Support Officer. I am so excited at the prospect of being able to start teaching in schools so soon, and being able to apply more of what is covered in my uni classes. I think it also means that I'll be able to bring a new vigour to completing my university assignments because I'll be able to reuse them in my teaching, and things feel just a bit more practical and real now. The school has also expressed interest in beginning a co-curricular program as well, including wind band, choral programs and potentially private lessons in the coming years. I'm excited to help facilitate this, but I'm also feeling a little out of my depth, so I'll be working hard over the mid-semester break to churn out some lesson plans and hopefully some super engaging units of work for the stage 2 and 3 students to complete.

We had an interesting example of Project Based Learning this week in Technology in Music Education. We were required to create a short podcast on Audio recording and multi-tracking, putting our newfound knowledge into practice immediately as a necessity to completing the task. I thought it was an incredibly clever and creative way to force (or gently encourage) us to engage with the content in a meaningful way. Coming into the task with almost zero prior knowledge I initially felt a little overwhelmed by the task, but the activity (being so well designed by Brad) allowed for plenty of differentiation. I was able to research the more basic concepts that would allow me to get a foot in the door to the world of audio recording, while the more experienced techies in the group were able to handle the actual recording and altering of the tracks where necessary. Even the concepts I wasn’t able to research myself were explained to me by my teammates inadvertently as we listened back to the podcast we had created.

It was a really great experience, and I think with some more independent study I would certainly have a more solid understanding of recording (at least in theory!) I've attached a link to our script, and hopefully in the future will be able to upload the actual recording (complete with relevant audio effects).

Download DOCX • 16KB

This is something I'm really interested in incorporating into my own classroom teaching - opportunities for students to choose their own level of challenge or differentiation as they complete an activity. There is a lot of value in this approach, as it allows students to challenge themselves where they feel necessary, however, there is a danger that students could use this tool as an opportunity to slack off if they haven't been helped to engage with the work properly. I think this would be especially useful in Middle School and Senior classes, however I'm concerned that primary classes could quickly lose focus and momentum if not properly monitored and kept on course.

Finally, the most exciting occurrence of the week has to be the arrival of my new piano, who has affectionately been named Cecelia. I'm so excited to welcome her into my rapidly growing family of musical instruments.

Week One of Semester 5 has marked a most welcome transition back to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and back into active learning.

During my first lecture in Popular Music Studies, I was introduced to a speech that I felt perfectly explained my beliefs surrounding Music Education, as well as my relationship in the subject material. The speech was given by Christopher Small at the Music Educators National Conference in Washington D.C., 1990, and below I'll share a series of quotes which I found particularly poignant. But first, I have to introduce my new favourite word, coined by Christopher Small during this speech, Whose Music Do We Teach, Anyway?

Essentially referring to the act of 'doing music', musicking encapsulates all that occurs in relation to making music, including performing, composing, listening and dancing. It highlights that music is a process, rather than an object or an outcome, and I think it is a brilliant attitude to approach learning and music education through. It also infuses the concept of music with a sense of motion and activity, rather than a feeling of passivity as often occurs in our music classrooms. In Teaching Junior Secondary Music we discussed starter activities as a way to immediately get students interacting and engaged in the lesson, and allow them to begin musicking within the first few minutes of the lesson.

Whose Music Do We Teach, Anyway?

This brief passage so concisely captures exactly my thoughts on music and musicking. I often reflect on why I find so much more joy in watching my students perform at the end of a term, showcasing their growth and developing skill, than I do watching a professional choir or orchestra perform.

It seems logical that I should enjoy more skilful music performed by people who have dedicated their lives to the art, however this quote from Small makes the difference so clear. As many professional musicians do, my students put as much skill and devotion as they have available into their performances and practice, however, it is my devotion and skill as a listener that is challenged.

I attend concerts with the intention to enjoy and relax, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, I am so much more invested in the performances of my students because I have encouraged, coached and celebrated them throughout the preparation and learning period. I think this mindset is further affirmed through this secondary quote.

It also highlights the true value of music, not in the object of the music itself, but its perceived value to the people engaging in musicking. This eliminates the need for a division and judgement between classical and contemporary scenes and music, as the value of the music no longer lies in its merit as a composition or performance, but in the space and meaning it holds for the people engaging the the musicking.

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