Routes into Teaching – October 2015 – Review

Friday 23rd October 2015, 09:30 – 13:00
Mid Herts Centre for Music & Arts

On 23rd October 2015 we ran our second Routes into Teaching morning bringing together 20 workshop leaders from Southend, Luton, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire interested to develop their group teaching practice. Routes into Teaching first ran in July 2015 and has been developed in response to a need to grow a workforce of teachers and music leaders who can work with large groups.

Participants were a mixture of tutors already working for music services, community musicians and trainees. Participants used junk percussion, ukulele and voice to investigate inclusive ways of working that combined informal and formal pedagogy.

MusicNet East’s Mark Howe demonstrated a community music approach, Hertfordshire Music Service’s Nicky Footer gave a more formal whole class singing approach, and Michael Davidson showed how formal and informal approaches could combine in whole class ukulele teaching.

Mark’s junk percussion session offered a chance to experience a playful and reflective music workshop that encourages participants to take musical choices, to reflect about their learning and to use the music to develop group relationships.

Nicky’s vocal session reinforced the value of fun warm-ups linking sound production and physical movement, how complex sounding harmony singing can be built up from simple building blocks, and how spontaneity and responsiveness to participant input can help composition and musical ‘ownership’ emerge.

Michael’s ‘one person-one note’ ukulele workshop demonstrated how making music as a group could enable musical outcomes beyond the capability of beginners, supporting social inclusion and cooperation valued by schools, whilst also establishing a solid classical guitar technique.

All the workshop leaders emphasised how involving participants in demonstrating and feeding back on their and each other’s learning can help manage differentiation and challenging behaviour and build personal and social outcomes alongside musical outcomes. They also spoke about their own varied routes into teaching and what had helped them develop their practice.

In a plenary session we discussed how First Access tuition is a developing area for music hubs and how community musicians could contribute their practice to this opportunity. All the leaders spoke about the importance of developing quality of practice through learning, and how the Youth Music Quality Framework supports this by promoting reflective practice, ensuring practice is inclusive by meeting the abilities and needs of participants, and the need for good communication about the needs of participants from the organisations hosting the session, for example passing on information about pupils with SEND so that music leaders can come prepared to make the session as inclusive as possible. John Musto gave a great example of how he’d adapted the one person-one note group ukulele approach to be inclusive of a blind pupil, by inviting half the class to play ukuleles with their eyes closed, whilst the others stood behind each player and tapped their shoulders when the conductor indicated it was their turn to play.

Participant feedback included:

  • 45 minutes was about right for each taster session, 2 hours on follow up would enable more working in depth and participant feedback
  • A suggestion that subsequent sessions could include a chance for trainees to try out a part of their own practice in a supportive environment
  • A request for schemes of work/lesson plans for the sessions to use to develop their own practice
  • A request for input on behaviour management with challenging teenagers
  • A suggestion to develop material in the one person-one note activities to engage older children

MusicNet East will develop these into our next training session!

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