Last week’s survey was on the topic of adult helpers in the music classroom. The impact of coursework season and the very specific nature of the survey reduced the number of responses but we still got some useful pointers from the community.
All but one respondent indicated that former pupils will often return to the school to work in the music classroom, which carries obvious benefits. It’s a great way to show pupils what they can aspire to and reassure them that the goals you set them are achievable.
I was particularly fond of the way one respondent makes use of sixth form students. The ‘working in the community’ element of their school’s sixth form allows them to bring these older pupils into the classroom and they are, apparently, “very effective at getting students to make progress based upon feedback”. I also liked that they employ a Year 13 pupil as a technician; the use of him/her as technical support in cover lessons sounding like a great idea.
A parent volunteer works in one respondent’s school orchestra playing violin but also helping other pupils with rhythms and instrumental technique. It’s always good for pupils to see musical role models and I always really enjoyed having adults in extra-curricular activities, especially if they were teachers of other subjects. It’s a great way to show how being a ‘musician’ is an identity that you keep even if you pursue another career.
I loved one respondent’s mention of a staff band. While I’ve heard of many staff bands, I particularly like that the members of this ensemble are all “learning new instruments”. What a great way to keep things fresh and to model musical learning for the pupils in the school. Imagine the conversation, “Yes, I know that bass can be hard to play. I started learning it last week.” We can do all the ‘teaching of lifelong learning’ we want but, as with so many things, modelling what we want to see will always be the best way forward.