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TeachMeet: 25 June 2015

teachmeet music - 25th june 2015 - teacher and musician

This time last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a Music specific TeachMeet at Prendergast Vale School in Lewisham.  We had a great variety of presentations led by some fantastic members of the music education community.  This blog post features a quick roundup of what was said.

Solving music education

Richard Branson believes that you should always set yourself “huge, apparently unachievable challenges”, so we did just that to open up our TeachMeet.  We decided that we would simply fix music education.  No problem.  
I shared some of the insights I gained from the analytics of this blog and suggested that music teachers are particularly struggling with the following topics:
  • specifications
  • writing schemes of work
  • assessment
  • reporting assessments
  • managing transition
We broke out into a few groups and strove to solve these issues.  Our conclusions can be summarised as below:
  • specifications
    • there was a proposal that a single exam board for music would lead to greater consistency
    • there wasn’t universal agreement on this point!
  • writing schemes of work
    • make sure that SoWs aren’t just ‘taken off the shelf’
    • make sure that SoWs are accessible to students and that you know them well enough to do this
  • assessment
    • we couldn’t solve this because schools want so much from us
    • the solution is for schools to accept that music is different and should be treated as such
  • reporting assessments
    • we need to know what a five year old musician can do because then you can report whether they’re on or below this expectation
    • comment only assessments would make more sense for music
  • managing transition
    • assessment is a problem for transition because secondary schools often expect a level to be assigned to a child within six weeks
    • the solution is to stop this(!), especially considering that music will typically only see children once a week

Martin Fourie: Teach Music Empire

Martin shared the work he’s done to build Teach Music Empire, which is a web based tool to provide structure to pupils’ musical learning.  Inspired by the London Tube map, pupils get more choice as they progress through the system.  The motivation was to ensure that pupils of all incomes can access music education.  In Martin’s school, he’s had 100 pupils use this to improve their singing.  

Emma Watson: singing activities

Emma led us through through three great singing activities.  You can hear each activity here:

The elements of music

Baa Baa Black Sheep


It’s always a pleasure to have a singing activity like this at a TeachMeet, so a huge thanks to Emma for leading this session.

Jane Werry: KS3 assessing without levels

Jane didn’t hide her feelings about National Curriculum Levels and she showed us the great radar diagram system that she’s developed at Hayes School.  She has twelve spokes on the diagrams and changes what each spoke represents depending on the project that pupils are working on.  I’m particularly fond of the way that Jane uses different coloured pens to represent the day that notes were made on pupils’ assessment sheets.  It’s pleasing to hear that Jane says that “we’ve really seen the benefits this year”.  
Perhaps the best quote of the night came from Jane’s presentation:

If anyone watches your music lesson, then they can stick this in their pipe and smoke it because it’s all there.  Here’s the feedback they’ve had and there’s what they’ve done about it.  

She also showed us what she’s done with QuickKey, which is a tool I’m really keen to investigate futher.  
You can read more about Jane’s system here.  

Raphael Tettey: my journey as a music teacher

Raphael told us how he started teaching in the UK in 2001 as an unqualified teacher with no head of department.  When the school became an all-through academy (primary and secondary combined), Raphael went through the GTP and then started teaching GCSE Music but soon moved to the school’s primary section, which was obviously quite different to his training.  A few years later, Raph was back to working with Key Stage 4 music classes and quickly had to relearn how to teach music at this level.  
The real message that Raph delivered was the value that he experienced from the Music Mark Peer to Peer CPD programme, which gave him his first experience of networking with music teachers outside of his school, which he found to be invaluable.  

Rico Lowson: Into Film

Rico showed us his work with Into Film, which is an education charity launching a CPD programme about raising literacy attainment through film.  I really liked the ‘three Cs and three Ss’ mnemonic, which was:
  • camera
  • colour
  • character
  • sound
  • setting
  • story
Rico showed us some of the resources they use and led us through an activity that would normally be delivered to KS2 pupils for the sound element of the three Cs and three Ss.  This activity used a simple grid to ask us to discuss the various features of a movie soundtrack played separate from the clip.  It looks like a system well worth investigating.  

Anna Gower and Jem Shuttleworth: #MusicEdNinjas

Anna and Jem challenged us to reunite the fragmented and under-pressure music education system by becoming #MusicEdNinjas.  To become a ninja (of the music education variety), Anna and Jem suggested that we should:
  • participate in TeachMeets
  • join the Peer to Peer Network
  • participate in MufuChat
  • write a blog
  • attend the CPD that you’re entitled to
  • attend music education conferences
  • make use of the upcoming secondary BBC Ten Pieces 

Jackie Schneider: Reasons to blog in the music room

Jackie is a huge fan of blogging, which she uses to keep up to date with music education.  She particularly loves that blogging is “cheap, anarchic and engaging” and that it connects her children with music in the world beyond her school.  She sees the benefits for the pupils as:
  • connecting them to musicians throughout the world
  • giving them a stage on which to show off their work
  • giving them a chance to say what they think about the music they’ve made in lessons (via comments)
The blog has raised the profile of music at Jackie’s school leading to collaborations with SingUp and the composers of the music that the pupils perform.  
Jackie’s tips for getting started are:
  • create an e-safety policy
  • work out who your audience is
  • use Twitter to drive traffic to the blog
  • don’t steal content
  • the blogging is the work, it’s the planning and assessment – if it’s extra work, then don’t do it

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended and to Prendergast Vale for providing the venue.  I really enjoyed the event and, as always, that’s thanks to the wonderful people who were there.  

Keep an eye on the events section of the blog to see similar events planned for the future.