Monday, 28 January 2013

It's been just over a week since I attended the Musical Futures Champion Conference and my mind is still buzzing with ideas and opportunities for my department.  Some I've put into place already and others are being nursed into maturity before I unleash them after half term.  Two days of awe inspiring CPD gives you far too much to deal with in one go but my lessons have already improved even if it's just because of the extra burst of enthusiasm that I've taken away with me.  This blog post is intended to quickly outline what I've already started doing thanks to this conference.  So, here goes...

Six Imperatives

The first thing that I brought into my department was David Price's six imperatives of social learning.  He outlined these as being:

  1. Do it yourself (autonomy)
  2. Do it now (immediacy)
  3. Do it with friends (collegiality)
  4. Do unto others (generosity)
  5. Do it for fun (playfulness)
  6. Do it for the world to see (high visibility)
Now, I'll confess, I've read about this from David before but it really struck a chord with me.  I've had these principles turned into six posters that are stuck on the walls of my classroom and I've briefed each child on my interpretation of what they mean.  Essentially, taking control of your own learning with a collaborative and positive mindset.  A sense of urgency for learning and making sure that you let everyone know what you're doing.  The impact has been noticeable.  I've been making sure that each of my lessons ends with a blog post including something from the lesson (SoundCloud recording, PDF, video, etc).  Pupils know that someone in the class will have to share something and that it'll appear on the blog and the departmental Twitter feed.  This lends to the urgency of 'do it now' and, for many, the joy of 'do it for fun'.  If this was all I'd taken away from #mufu2013, then the journey would have been worth it.  

Vocal Warmups

I confess, I've been an idiot recently.  I've been doing a huge drive for singing in the classroom but had managed to completely neglect my arsenal of warmup activities.  I have no idea how this happened - I'm just thick.  It was great to be introduced to all sorts of warmup activities, some familiar and some new.  You can see what we did here but the one I am enjoying the most is the plasticine man - any chance to say 'splat' as part of a planned lesson is great.  

Using voice in band skills lessons

I've been doing band skills lessons for a few years now and they're always a lot of fun but we were introduced to some of the Musical Futures Singing Pilot work and one great idea was to take a song and sing all the parts (guitar, keys, bass, etc with your voice).  I've taken this idea and integrated it into my band skills lessons, with some promising results.  We'll see what impact it has on the actual instrumental work but I do believe that pupils understand the parts better than they usually do.  

Next steps

There's so much more that I'm going to be integrating into the dept (especially with workshopping) but what I've seen from just one week has been fantastic.  Thank you, Musical Futures, for what was easily the best INSET I've ever had.  
Different Themes

Written by John Kelleher

John Kelleher is the Director of Music at Wimbledon College and was previously Head of Music at Baylis Court Arts College. He is also a Musical Futures Champion Teacher, a member of TeachTalk: Music and a Fellow of the RSA.