During my teaching experience in an Asian school, called North Primary School, I had to work on a Hindu religion story called Ramayana. The two classes I had to work were year 4, Ks2.
The purpose for doing this lesson is to allow students explore the rhythmic and melodic instruments. The whole class was divided into four groups and each group had to compose a small rhythmic and melodic pattern which describes one word. There were four teachers and the words we were going to work on were for the first group: fly, fear, happy and march-battle and for the second group the words were: evil-demons, silent, dead and enormous strength, taken from the story.
The teachers had three lessons in their provision, every Tuesday from 9:30-11:30, in order to accomplish their intention. Each lesson had its learning goals, key vocabulary, success criteria and a time plan where it was divided into small sessions were we followed it in order to be in time and achieve teaching all the elements we had prepared.
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My main aims of the first lesson were to teach students what rhythmic patterns are and learn how to improvise. The first thing they had to do was to recognise from a story, some words related with feelings. Then they were given a two measures pattern linked with the word that we had chosen and they had to improvise, each one of them on a rhythmic instrument. At the end of the lesson they performed on their rhythmic instruments. The key vocabulary that children had to learn was: rhythmic pattern, improvisation and performance. In order to be successful the lesson the students were expected to be able to: relate sounds and use untuned instruments to describe feeling words, improvise two measures, to perform rhythmic patterns and read the score (box).
Moving to the second lesson, my aims were to teach students what melodic patterns are and again how to improvise. They were given again a two measures melodic pattern linked with the word of the previous lesson and they had to improvise to more measures, this time on melodic instruments. We ended the lesson with performing the melodic pattern. In this lesson, students learn to more new words, the melodic pattern and the performance. The criteria for a successful lesson were the pupils to be able to: relate musical sounds with feeling words, to relate instruments to melodic patterns, learn and perform melodies given and read the score.
My aims for the third lesson were to teach students to distinguish loud from soft and achieve performing all together, using the dynamics and be accurate by starting and finishing the same time. The dynamics they learnt were piano, forte, crescendo and diminuento. At the end of each lesson, the group which achieved the aims we had set was going to receive a certificate as a prize. The students had to decide which one they thought was the best and deserve it and why.
Every lesson had its own goals which were related with the National curriculum (2000). The students were able to compose and perform with others on tuned or untuned instruments and with control and rhythmic accuracy. In the lesson which we taught them the rhythmic patterns, we also introduced them the unturned instruments, those that play rhythms only like drums, bells, tambourines and woodblocks. In the second lesson were we taught them the melodic patterns, we also explained them that tune instruments are those that play only melody like xylophone, metallophone, keyboard and piano. (Jones and Robson, 2008)They could also rehearse and present performances with and awareness of the audience by performing in front of the other three groups in the class. Students were also taught to develop and improvise melodies and rhythms. They could also all read notes and "boxes" despite of the fact that at the end some of them who played melodic instruments used scores with notes and those who played rhythmical instruments used scores with "boxes". In the first lesson, I asked from the children to use body sounds in order to play correctly the rhythmic pattern they were given. So I asked from each one to clap the rhythm he had to learn. After achieving this, I asked from them to repeat the same motive on their instruments. Furthermore, the students were able to evaluate music performances by deciding which group was good enough to win the certificate. They also were able to combine dynamics, rhythm, melody and to communicate different moods within a word e.g. word happy is related with fast tempo and loud music or the word death is related with sad melody and slow tempo.
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All primary school children should experience composing, listening, appraising and performing, as part of the music national curriculum (2000). Performing skills includes controlling sounds through singing and playing. Composing skills contains creating and developing musical ideas. Appraising skills is about responding, reviewing or evaluating music. Furthermore, listening is the specific skill for applying knowledge and understanding about music. According to Mills (1991) "in an integrated and coherent music education in which children compose, perform and listen, the boundaries between musical processes disappear. When children compose, for instance, they cannot help but learn as performers and listeners".
In listening and appraising, children listen to their own and others music and they criticize it. Regard to my lessons, is observed that the students were divided into four groups, and they commented on each other performance, in order to conclude which group won the certificate. For example, they referred to if they play all together the same time, if the sound was clear or if someone played loudly than others. In performing, students perform composition of their selves or others with voices and instruments, within class or in front of the audience. Always based on my lessons, it can be seen that the students prepared their piece with their group and afterwards they presented it to their classmates as also in front of the whole school and the teachers, at the final feast. As far as composing concerns, students make music. Again the above fact can be seen in my lessons, when some of the students that were playing rhythmic instruments, made up their own rhythmic pattern, playing the instruments alternatively, on different beats. According to Swanwick (1979) there are five parameters of musical experience, which three of them are directly related to music and the other two have supporting and enable roles. This is called CLASP and it means: composition (formulating a musical idea), literature studies (the literature of and about music), audition (responsive and listening as audience), skill acquisition ( aural, instrumental, notational) and performance ( communicating music as a presense). There are some elements in music that have to be taught in primary school, which are important in order to be able the student to appraise and describe music. These elements are: duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and pitch. Because of the short time of three lessons that I had to teach, I managed to teach my pupils the dynamics like forte, piano, crescendo and diminuendo. According to the tempo they learnt fast and slow and this was used in the words happy were they performed fast and the word dead were they performed slowly.
The role and the position of the teacher in the class oppose to the pupil is the most fundamental element in teaching. According to Glover and Ward "music asks the teacher to be sensitive, supportive and challenging and to approach music teaching in all its forms with delight, enthusiasm and imagination". Managing music in the classroom, several skills are also required for a class teacher such us: to be a careful listener to childrens work and to other music, to use language confidently in a musical context, to have an imaginative approach to, and enthusiasm for a wide variety of music, including childrens own work, to investigate music with interest, to be able to interact and communicate musically at a simple level, to plan and provide for music learning within the whole curriculum for each child and to assess progress, identifying developmental needs and matching provision to them.
Concluding, basing on a wealthy curriculum, music can offer many things to children. Students engaged with music can gain a number of opportunities. They can increase their understanding and appreciation of different kinds of music. They can also expand and broaden their own interests and raise their ability to make judgements of musical quality. Furthermore they achieve self-confidence and sensitivity towards others and develop the ability to concentrate and create.
Glover, J., Young, S., (1999) "Primary Music: Later Years", London: The Falmer Press
Glover, J., Ward, S. (1998) "Teaching Music in the Primary School", Great Britain: Redwood Books ltd.
Hennesey, S. (1995) "Music 7-11: Developing Primary teaching Skills", London: Routledge
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