Music in the classroom

MRSH

Supporting Member
mikelyons said:
In the case of an art, like music or painting or whatever, if you aren't born with the ability to perceive or understand that particular medium, you should not be doing it.
What utter rubbish. :rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

sugarandspice

Active Member
mikelyons said:
I disagree. Music has a pitifully small vocab compared to other languages. It should be possible to learn it better than they do, but most of them just CBA. The children inherit their parents' and school's low opinions of music at an early age and therefore we have a country with such a poor tradition of music. Example - name five high quality English composers born between 1700 and 1900. Now do the same for Italians, Germans/Austrians and even Frenchmen. Much easier, isn't it.

5 years ago I wouldn't even consider entering a child who couldn't read music. Even now, it is difficult if you can't follow a traditional score, but we do enter pop/rock musicians who can't read. They don't, generally, do as well as classically trained musicians, but they do pass. Mostly.

Personally, I disagree. Strongly. It seems to me that it is part of the culture that 'anyone can do anything' That's *******s. In the case of an art, like music or painting or whatever, if you aren't born with the ability to perceive or understand that particular medium, you should not be doing it. If you have that ability (for music in this case) you should be encouraged to learn how to write it down as well as communicate it in performance. If you really love what you do, then that is what you will want to do. You will want some sense of permanence in your work. If not, you should find out what you are good at and devote yourt efforts to that. Everybody is good at something. Nobody is good at everything.

Well I'm sorry, but i happen to think that that is total *******s too, and i dont really think that is a good attitude to have as a teacher, especially teaching a non core subject.
Everybody has a right to have a go at something, nobody is born amazing at something, it comes over time and with the experience of trying new things. Why the hell shouldnt music be accessable to every child?

someone said that KS3 should be able to read music? Why? If Children want to learn an instrument then yes, being able to read music is essential, and they will sit down with there instrumental teachers and gradually learn everything they need to know in order to play and preform on their chosen instrument. But unless they want to learn an instrument, why should they learn to read music? Its not going to help in life anymore than knowing the correct way to hold a paint brush.

I think that music should be made interesting enough to encourage children to persue learning an instrument in there own time, idealy this should be done through primary school, "get them interested young so to speak" but as it is never too late to start. secondary school is just as good. it is this narrow minded attitude which is enough to put children off music.
As far as i am concearned i would rather have a class of 30 kids who couldnt read a single note of music, and have no music abilty at all, yet are prepared to try really hard at what ever musical tasks they are given, then 3 or 4 grade 5 + students who couldnt be bothered cos they already feel they know everything they need to.

There is a lot more to music than just reading the notes. Pitch, Rythm and sounds are just as important as the actual notes, and can be recognised by everyone, whether they are musical or not.

Children are the musicians of tomorrow, they should be encouraged to take part in as much music as possible from a young age, and be exposed to as much variety in music as possible, afterall, there is more to music than brass bands!!

I think i have said enough for the moment, just a little dissapointed, up until now i had found all teachers to be very positive people towards there children, especially when concerning a speacialist subject, its a shame that not everyone shares this view.

Enough said.
 

Pythagoras

Active Member
This sounds a bit like aiming all lessons at the pupils with the least ability in the group. Wouldn't there be a danger that what you would get would be that any pupil who wanted to learn an instrument would automatically go for guitar, as you don't have to learn the notation. Not saying there's anything wrong with guitar but there should be a spread
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
Kel,

I'm just trying to be realistic. Most children who have the desire will find a way. However, I have a small number of children in some of my mixed ability classes who cannot tell the difference between different pitches. Even at extreme ranges. Do I condemn them to life as percussionists? ;) They are not deaf but they cannot appreciate the beauty of music because they cannot tell one pitch from another.

I have children in my classes whose coordination is so poor that they cannot even manage to clap their own hands consistently in time. There is nothing else wrong with them and their disabiity does not interfere with their everyday lives, but in the classroom, there is little I can do for these children. We don't have the resources and the school won't put anything in place - unlike in science or maths. and I have classes with twenty odd other children (and sometimes twenty other odd children) to look after.

Even though I'm a very experienced teacher I have to be practical about this.

As pythagoras says, some of these children grow up to like music. Fine, but liking it does not mean you can do it at A level. We have a couple of students in AS now who cannot read or write music. They are willing to try to catch up with the others, so I'm happy and wiling to give it a go for them and I'm giving up my own time to try to help them out - but I can see that at least two of them are finding it too hard.

I think people get mixed up with enjoying music and being able to perform to a particular standard. Just because you enjoy something does not mean you can take it to exam level.
 

MRSH

Supporting Member
mikelyons said:
I can see that's a considered opinion. Would you like to expand on it?
Yes OK.

What you are saying is that if somebody isn't 'born' with a talent, in this instance music, - which is essentially what perception and understanding of something is - then they shouldn't do or get involved in anything musical.

How do you gauge what somebody may or may not be good at until they get in to an environment that can establish that? Give them the chance. Get them in and teach them, nurture them and bring out the best in them. At a very young age children are probably not aware of what they may actually be good at and excel in. That is where the teaching and awareness comes in and that should be made available to everyone.

You're right nobody is good at everything and everybody is good at something - but at least give them all a chance - as early as possible - to realise whether they have a talent for something. Then, if they do, you can support them, encourage them and develop them safe in the knowledge that what you are doing is worthwhile. But until you establish that and understand that from the child's point of view you haven't got a hope.

You cannot possibly determine ability unless or until they are given the chance to demonstrate it.
 

sugarandspice

Active Member
mikelyons said:
Kel,

I'm just trying to be realistic. Most children who have the desire will find a way. However, I have a small number of children in some of my mixed ability classes who cannot tell the difference between different pitches. Even at extreme ranges. Do I condemn them to life as percussionists? ;) They are not deaf but they cannot appreciate the beauty of music because they cannot tell one pitch from another.

I have children in my classes whose coordination is so poor that they cannot even manage to clap their own hands consistently in time. There is nothing else wrong with them and their disabiity does not interfere with their everyday lives, but in the classroom, there is little I can do for these children. We don't have the resources and the school won't put anything in place - unlike in science or maths. and I have classes with twenty odd other children (and sometimes twenty other odd children) to look after.

Even though I'm a very experienced teacher I have to be practical about this.

As pythagoras says, some of these children grow up to like music. Fine, but liking it does not mean you can do it at A level. We have a couple of students in AS now who cannot read or write music. They are willing to try to catch up with the others, so I'm happy and wiling to give it a go for them and I'm giving up my own time to try to help them out - but I can see that at least two of them are finding it too hard.

I think people get mixed up with enjoying music and being able to perform to a particular standard. Just because you enjoy something does not mean you can take it to exam level.

PLease dont ever shorten my name, i cant stand it, and it is not my name unless it is pronounced kelly!!!

Well you have just proved why music in primary schools is so important, if they are introduced to pitchs and rythm from a young age- ( i had four year olds clapping to the beat on friday) then they are more likely to be able to cope with it at GCSE, but this is not what you were saying before, you were dissmissing music completely from those less able children. Don't do it. I agree totally with MRSH, give them the chance to see if they like it. As Yonhee pointed out music IS compulasary, so youve just got to get on and teach it and make the best of what you have in your class. If music in primary schools shouldnt need to be taught by a specialist, but a normal class room teacher then having the advantage of someone with a degree in music teaching in secondary schools should stand the children an even better chance of getting to know they're way around the world of music.

BBBREC- Hello! :) You teach in a school with a six form? My school didnt have a six form, so i went to a few college open evenings to talk to the subject lecturers in detail about what the a level consists of. I not sure if there is a simalar process form school to six form, but i think this is the best time to stress strongly that you do need to be able to read music at A Level? Give them examples of the four part harmony etc that they will have to compose to demonstrate what the composition involves etc? I Agree that by the time you get to A level you really do need a more detailed knowledge in the subject. But then, you know your pupils from GCSE, and will know if they are up to coping with it.
 

sugarandspice

Active Member
There were certain entry requirements for A level, think you had to be Grade 5 on your main instrument, and capable of playing at least grade 6 pieces by the end of the two years and you were required to have grade 5 theory.
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
sugarandspice said:
PLease dont ever shorten my name, i cant stand it, and it is not my name unless it is pronounced kelly!!!
I most humbly beg your pardon and forgiveness. I promise I won't do it again.

sugarandspice said:
Well you have just proved why music in primary schools is so important, if they are introduced to pitchs and rythm from a young age- ( i had four year olds clapping to the beat on friday) then they are more likely to be able to cope with it at GCSE, but this is not what you were saying before, you were dissmissing music completely from those less able children. Don't do it.
I think you had better read my post again. I did not say that at all. Ability in the academic sense has nothing to do with aptitude for a subject. Some of our brightest pupils in some subjects are as stupid as stumps when it comes to any kind of music. Some of our disadvantaged children are very good at making music, but I would never propose that someone should not be given the chance. However, how much chance do you give? Do you really think it right to let someone with no musical talent or ability try to do A level? Never mind the risk of their own failure. What about the effect they will have on the rest of the class? I'm sure you realise by now how profound an effect one pupil can have on a whole class.

sugarandspice said:
I agree totally with MRSH, give them the chance to see if they like it. As Yonhee pointed out music IS compulasary, so youve just got to get on and teach it and make the best of what you have in your class. If music in primary schools shouldnt need to be taught by a specialist, but a normal class room teacher then having the advantage of someone with a degree in music teaching in secondary schools should stand the children an even better chance of getting to know they're way around the world of music.

Of course music is compulsory. I'm not sure I think it should be, though. Especially in a school like ours, where children decide at the end of Y7 whether they are going to do GCSE or not. Those that don't want to or who can't because they don't play follow the national curriculum, but it makes it damned hard work because they know from the word go that they cannot and will not be doing it at GCSE. (BTW don't blame me. I didn't want this system. It was foisted on us.)

sugarandspice said:
BBBREC- Hello! :) You teach in a school with a six form? My school didnt have a six form, so i went to a few college open evenings to talk to the subject lecturers in detail about what the a level consists of. I not sure if there is a simalar process form school to six form, but i think this is the best time to stress strongly that you do need to be able to read music at A Level? Give them examples of the four part harmony etc that they will have to compose to demonstrate what the composition involves etc? I Agree that by the time you get to A level you really do need a more detailed knowledge in the subject. But then, you know your pupils from GCSE, and will know if they are up to coping with it.

We also have a 6th form and we don't just get pupils from our own year 11. Several students arrive from other places every year. We have no real idea of what they have been like in their previous school.

We are encouraged by our senior (seagull) management to take anyone with the requisite GCSEs (5 C's or higher) but this does not guarantee the standard of student. Even with our own students we can't guarantee that they will do well, because, to be honest, we bottle feed them all through GCSE but we can't do that at A level because they are supposed to be doing independent learning (don't make me laugh!)

Sorry gotta go now - junior band! :eek:
 

Redhorn

New Member
sugarandspice said:
BBBREC- Hello! :) You teach in a school with a six form? My school didnt have a six form, so i went to a few college open evenings to talk to the subject lecturers in detail about what the a level consists of. I not sure if there is a simalar process form school to six form, but i think this is the best time to stress strongly that you do need to be able to read music at A Level? Give them examples of the four part harmony etc that they will have to compose to demonstrate what the composition involves etc? I Agree that by the time you get to A level you really do need a more detailed knowledge in the subject. But then, you know your pupils from GCSE, and will know if they are up to coping with it.


Hi Kelly. Yeah we do have an informal options evening prior to Yr11 make their choices... but I also work in a school where they tell me I MUST have at least 7 pupils opting to do AS else the subject wont run at all. This means to some extent I have to say YES to some pupils who really arent up to it, in order to get the required numbers to run the course! If I showed them examples of 4 pt harmony theyd probably all run a mile! ;)
 

sugarandspice

Active Member
bbbrec said:
Hi Kelly. Yeah we do have an informal options evening prior to Yr11 make their choices... but I also work in a school where they tell me I MUST have at least 7 pupils opting to do AS else the subject wont run at all. This means to some extent I have to say YES to some pupils who really arent up to it, in order to get the required numbers to run the course! If I showed them examples of 4 pt harmony theyd probably all run a mile! ;)

We had two classes of between 15- 18 at AS, which then merged into an A level class of 20 ish i think!! 5/6 brass players, :) just a shame most of them were cornets!

Mike, i think the conversation has progressed on more than i had intended, when i started the music in the classroom thread i meant music in primary schools, maybe to the extent of the cross into secondary but certainly not a level, thats a bit out of my teaching leage!! i think we are looking at it from different perspectives, i am with a bunch of little people who are trying many new things, i think it is just as imprtant to get them enjoying the creative subjects such as music and art as it is the academic subjects like literacy and maths. These people need to get the chance to experience everything untill they find what it is that they are good at. I understand that higher up the eduactional ladder more knowledge is needed in the subjects, but i still think music should be accessable to everyone.
 

FlugelD

Member
Do any primary schools still do recorder lessons? That's where I learned to read music, almost (gulp!) 40 years ago....:eek:
 

chriscole

Member
mikelyons said:
At the risk of putting a damper on things, why not just teach them some music?

We have just tested our Y7 intake to see what they know from what they are supposed to have been taught at KS2. Less than 1 in ten can recognise a crotchet, none of them seem to know what a treble clef is and notes on the staff are just 'blobs'.:rolleyes: :mad:

We have to get GCSE results from this mess. Your secondary schools will thank you. Trust me.

I'm surprised to have read this because the KS2 national curriculum makes little reference to the teaching of standardised notation. In fact, in some schools would find it inappropriate to do so. However, in Primary Schools we do teach them many of the fundamentals of musical expression and vocabulary. In fact, there is a lot that happens in Primary Schools to teach children about music. Please don't use you above assessment as a benchmark of standards in music in KS2.
 

chriscole

Member
mikelyons said:
I disagree. Music has a pitifully small vocab compared to other languages. It should be possible to learn it better than they do, but most of them just CBA. The children inherit their parents' and school's low opinions of music at an early age and therefore we have a country with such a poor tradition of music. Example - name five high quality English composers born between 1700 and 1900. Now do the same for Italians, Germans/Austrians and even Frenchmen. Much easier, isn't it.

5 years ago I wouldn't even consider entering a child who couldn't read music. Even now, it is difficult if you can't follow a traditional score, but we do enter pop/rock musicians who can't read. They don't, generally, do as well as classically trained musicians, but they do pass. Mostly.

Personally, I disagree. Strongly. It seems to me that it is part of the culture that 'anyone can do anything' That's *******s. In the case of an art, like music or painting or whatever, if you aren't born with the ability to perceive or understand that particular medium, you should not be doing it. If you have that ability (for music in this case) you should be encouraged to learn how to write it down as well as communicate it in performance. If you really love what you do, then that is what you will want to do. You will want some sense of permanence in your work. If not, you should find out what you are good at and devote yourt efforts to that. Everybody is good at something. Nobody is good at everything.

I understand your point, but some things to consider:
1. Does everyone know that they have an ability in Music? Not if you are not given the chance to find out.
2. Not everybody has the chance to find their potential unless they are given the opportunity.
3. It is possible for someone to be a good performer because of their ability without being a good musician. Does that mean that you shouldn't be involved in music because you were not 'born' with it.

I spend a large amount of my time encouraging both children and adults to become involved in music. The suggestion here is that only the 'gifted' should have the chance. That has really equally opps issues.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
sugarandspice said:
But unless they want to learn an instrument, why should they learn to read music?

Because it introduces new concepts to them, giving them new ways of looking at things, not just music. It expands their minds, and they will be more ready in the future to consider how other concepts in other subjects can be successfully mapped onto paper in abstract but meaningful ways. Algebra is probably the first obvious example that they will learn at school.
 

yonhee

Active Member
FlugelD said:
Do any primary schools still do recorder lessons? That's where I learned to read music, almost (gulp!) 40 years ago....:eek:

*shudders* Yes, I had to it was horrible I stopped as soon as I could and now I have to do it again :rolleyes:
 
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barry toan

New Member
chriscole said:
I'm surprised to have read this because the KS2 national curriculum makes little reference to the teaching of standardised notation......


And one could also argue that KS3 has very little reference to it also! In fact, I know of many schools where they make a conscious decision NOT to teach any standard western notation. Its all about DOING now, rather than the teacher talk.....
In my department I made a conscious decision last year to re-introduce theory lessons to Yr7 (and am looking forward to arguing this out with ofsted when they come any day now!) largely due to huge numbers of kids opting to take GCSE that have no idea about written music or convention.

Keyboards also have a lot to answer for, in my opinion! Too many music teachers think of them as an easy option.
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
barry toan said:
And one could also argue that KS3 has very little reference to it also! In fact, I know of many schools where they make a conscious decision NOT to teach any standard western notation. Its all about DOING now, rather than the teacher talk.....
In my department I made a conscious decision last year to re-introduce theory lessons to Yr7 (and am looking forward to arguing this out with ofsted when they come any day now!) largely due to huge numbers of kids opting to take GCSE that have no idea about written music or convention.

Keyboards also have a lot to answer for, in my opinion! Too many music teachers think of them as an easy option.

I couldn't agree more. Hence the concentration in some parts of KS3 on teaching keyboard technique. I hate doing it. The keyboard (including the piano) is such a limiting instrument.
[stands back with fingers in ears waiting for the screams]

What is the point of not teaching notation at KS3 when the exams (GCSE/GCE) are largely based around the reading and writing of notation? Even guitarists and drummers have to read some notation - even if it's only tab or outline parts. The sooner you start learning a language the better. Music is a language like any other. The sooner you start to learn its conventions the better.
 
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