The Importance of Music Education

Earlier this week I wrote about 2 music lessons I delivered in the outdoors.  We explored notation and the reasons why we might want to visually record a composition.  We also explored a range of musical terms and finally, we created short musical compositions.  Whilst the lessons met the desired outcomes, I know that a music specialist would take the children’s learning further.  I know this as early in my teaching career I was lucky enough to work in schools with music teachers.

Music really is one of those things in life where you either feel confident at it or not.  A primary teacher needs to teach every curricular subject and there will be some where they simply do not feel confident.  I would suggest a lot of teacher’s do not feel confident with their own musical abilities and therefore their competence to teach music in depth.  However, music education is essential because:-

  1. it develops children’s communication skills
  2. it develops creative thinking skills
  3. it aids memorisation
  4. children learn relaxation techniques which are important for mental health
  5. it leads to a sense of achievement, whether learning a new instrument or composition
  6. it develops team work skills
  7. feedback within music can help children develop resilience when receiving feedback in other curricular areas, therefore helping them improve work throughout the curriculum
  8. children learn to recognise patterns, which helps with maths and literacy
  9. it can increase coordination
  10. possibly most importantly, it can improve self confidence

The rewards in high quality music education are clear.  They even extend across the full curriculum.  However, teachers, as much as they will try their best, may not be the best people to teach children music.    Yet councils are continually cutting budgets for music education.  A music teacher within a primary school is almost a mythical being these days. Surely though, the benefits of music should play a key part in the provision, we wouldn’t get rid of literacy because books are too expensive, so why music?

Music in the Outdoors

My school teaching highlight last week was the two music lessons which I delivered to my primary 6 class.  I am not musical and will admit that there were children in the class that understand musical terms and techniques better than me.  These are children who benefit from the council music tuition programme.  Today we will talk about these lessons and later this week we will explore why music education is tricky for teachers yet vitally important.

As I said, I am not musical.  Despite over a decade in the classroom, I still lack confidence in teaching music.  When we lack confidence we reach for our comforts.  For me, that is outdoor learning.  Whilst these lessons started in the classroom, we quickly got out into the playground.

The Grounds for Learning website has some great resources and lesson plans.  I love their plans as they are brief, simple and adaptable.  I used the Bang, Crash, Whoosh plan with a You Tube video from Stomp.  (plan is – https://www.ltl.org.uk/resources/results.php?id=419 , Stomp video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ7aYQtIldg ).  The video helped us explore the difference between beat and rhythm,  different techniques to make music more interesting and “instruments” we could use before heading out to the playground to work in groups.  The children had themselves, their school bags and the bag contents to use as instruments.

Quickly, the children began, exploring different ways they could create noise and the turn that into music.  They worked as teams and communicated well.  Yes, it was noisy, yes it looked a little crazy but yes, the kids were absolutely on task.  They had time in groups to create their music before each group performed for the rest of the class.  What started as a noise soon became music.  The lesson was simple but effective and the pupil’s came back into class buzzing.  They must have enjoyed it as I had the pleasure of observing them from my window at lunch continuing playing with ways to create sound and rhythms.

I had them interested, so it was time to develop the lesson.  As said earlier, I am not musical in the slightest, however, I once had the opportunity to watch an amazing music teacher teach notation and could use his techniques.  Each group created a simple sheet with 8 beats.  Each instrument was represented by a symbol and was noted on a different line.  It may have looked a little like this

Screenshot_20180419-092013

 

We could then explore why we would want a visual representation of our piece of music.  Children, who like me, do not feel talented in this area realised it could really be simple and accessible to them.  They participated and worked together in a way I have rarely observed from this class.

And me?  Well I left the lesson feeling I might just be able to teach music.

Look out for our blog on Thursday where we explore why music education is important.