B.Ed4 Music Minor Specialism class

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Introduction

This page consists of personal reflections of two hour music sessions I've been participating in over the past semester (Sept-Dec 2016). It is part of my fourth year degree programme for Bachelor of Education on St. Patrick's College, DCU. The page is structured through retractable weekly written reflections of 250 words approx. It also includes some videos, images and photos related to the course that I wish to highlight.

1st Reflection

During this session we discussed as a group our musical history to date, our interests around music in the classroom, our knowledge of curriculum music, where we would like to improve our knowledge and what we would like to experience over the coming semester. We shared our experiences on school placement and the different activities we felt were successful in the classroom. We acknowledged, as a group, that the strand we were most confident in was composing and had weak knowledge and experience in the listening strand.

The strands of listening and performance would be strongly linked with the different methods of teaching and learning music. We discussed the range of methods such as Susuki and Koda'ly methodologies recognized internationally. This knowledge could be applied in the classroom by influencing our methods when teaching the listening and performing strands. Building our bank of songs for the classroom we looked at 'Flying a Round' by Harrop and Gadsby 2002.

'Flying A Round' by Harrop and Gadsby

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2nd Reflection

Today we discussed and learned about the Koda'ly method of teaching music. We read specific parts of the first two chapters from the books by Lois Choksy called 'The Koda'ly Method - Second Edition'. In groups we discussed what we had learned from the sections we read. Finally as a class we reflected on what was most interesting about what we read. During the last piece of the session we applied what we had learned about Koda'ly to short rounds. We used these rounds as our teaching resources and, discussed and practiced how we could teach them to the children using the Koda'ly methodology.

I found this session extremely informative. Over my years of learning violin these methods were used by my teachers at various stages mixed in with other methodologies. While reading the two chapters I could recognize and relate to the method from both a learners stance and a teacher's viewpoint. To be able to put all my experiences into relativity with Koda'ly's methodology and then understand the rationale behind it, it really inspired ideas for the classroom.

Some methods that I feel are prominent in being helpful to apply in the classroom would be using the major second, minor third and perfect fourth intervals as a guide for choosing songs for younger children. This will develop a sense of confidence and appreciation for music within the children, because it is natural for them to sing. I would also incorporate the hand signals as a visual and kinesthetic medium to help the children with pitch throughout the primary years. The inclusion of ta-ti to guide with rhythm would also be useful in classroom practicality.

Koda'ly Reading - Cover

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3rd Reflection

This session began with examining and discussing a page that outlined the 'Rudiments of Music'. It demonstrated how music is represented on paper through steps. We discussed this in groups and then as a class around how much could be instilled in the children's knowledge by the time they leave 6th class. This brought up issues around teacher capabilities, schools support systems around teaching music and meeting realistic expectations. We then reverted back to the short pieces that we looked at last week. We explored as a group how we could use these pieces to teach notation. We started by recapping what we did last week using the Koda'ly method and then moved on to pulse, linking the rhythms to well known tunes, notating just the rhythm, memory testing and finally introducing the notes. Making sure to include visual and physical experiences. We then did a listening exercise and drew on this to make many different lesson plan ideas.

Today's session would help me during future lessons in the classroom as I think I'm clearer around the steps towards notation and the importance of listening exercises. The listening exercises engages the children's imaginative musical ear. It builds on their appreciation and aural ability to distinguish what the pulse and rhythms are to begin the journey of notation. The suggestion of creating a musical time-line is something I feel the children will find particularly enjoyable.

Rudiments Sheet

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4th Reflection

The session today began with ukulele practice. We each got an instrument and as a group tuned our own instrument, with one person playing the note on the electric keyboard. We practiced the chords C, F and G in that order and used songs such as 'Row, Row, Row your Boat' and 'The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round' to practice moving fluidly from one chord to the next. We brought in the different ways of strumming but decided to just use the most basic way of strumming with our thumbs because we were only learning. We then put body movements to the song 'Wheels on the Bus'. We did exercises for teaching rhythm with the song 'Music has a Beat'. It was repetitive and you could vary it each time for the children to get a feel of the beat involving different body parts. Regina also suggested teaching 'ta-ti's' as an extension to this activity. We then explored the tonic solfa and incorporated this with the ukuleles. The ukulele was very much enjoyed as entertainment for me and my family from then on!

I felt numerous activities would help me in the classroom to develop the children's pitch and pulse. Particular activities such as 'Tapping your partner's shoulder', where we stood in a line and tapped the rhythm on our partner's shoulder and stamped the pulse. 'The Hidden Tune' was also an activity that would definitely bring excitement and fun into the classroom for young children. Using the tonic solfa, 'The Hidden Tune' game and chime bars allows space for exploration around pitch with the children which I think they would enjoy.

 

Short Rounds Sheet

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Koda'ly Hand Signals

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Me on the violin

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Video playing the ukulele

Download VID-20161206-WA0001.mp4.1 [6.02MB]
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5th Reflection

We visited 'Child Vision' today and sat in on a music lesson conducted by the music teacher in the school. In the class there were seven children from the primary school and the lesson lasted for almost an hour. The children were a mix of boys and girls, and there were up to three SNAs in the classroom with them. Each child was visually imparied some children were more severe than others. All children were in a wheelchair and were unable to walk because they were children with moderate-profound disabilities as well as visually impaired.

I found the experience of sitting in on a music lesson of this setting extremely beneficial to my future teaching and learning approaches. The teacher incorporated a lot of time to 'listening time'. This built collaborative and social skills for the children which would otherwise be difficult to develop in the classroom. I thought each child responded to the activities positively, some through a smile or clap and others by simply sitting quietly. The teacher used the 'listening time' technique as intervals of the lesson, which would have been very intense for the children and teacher without it.

Child Vision Logo

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Frost/ Ice

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Leaves

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6th Reflection

This week we visited Marian Primary School for the Deaf in Cabra, Dublin. We were warmly welcomed by the staff of the school while waiting for the arrival of Shirley Higgins, the school's music teacher.

We were directed into the school hall where we were joined by about 16 young students between the ages of 5-9 (approx.) years old. The children seemed excited for the up coming music lesson. They formed a semi-circle facing Shirley and began 'Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer' for the first time. Their response to Shirley was incredible. The children loved the movement of it, and were over-joyed to take part in the movements, signing and actions/expressions.

Shirley spoke with us afterwards and gave us a brief history of what the children have done with her so far, and the achievements they have made. A particular little girl found the noise of the experience overwhelming and reacted to it by screaming at the beginning of the academic year. However she has now made progress to stand quietly and sometimes join in. Another student has become passionate about music which has resulted in her and her family's attitude towards her hearing aid becoming more positive. Overall the lesson gave a happy, excited and active atmosphere and the progress Shirley explained was positive; tough to achieve without choir lessons!

Marian Primary School

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Senior School- Avicii

9th Reflection

This week was our last week and we visited Child Vision for the second time. We had prepared a performance of a range of Christmas songs using instruments such as ukuleles, guitars, violin, tin whistle and the uilleann pipes. We practiced together for about an hour in our music room on St. Patrick's Campus before walking over to meet the music teacher and students in the primary school. As we arrived the music teacher greeted us and set up our playing area while all the students entered the slightly confined music hall. Once everyone was settled we began our repertoire.

We started with 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' on ukuleles, followed by Moylan singing 'White Christmas' accompanied by her beautiful guitar playing and we joined in on the second verse along with the audience. We then sang 'Silent Night', accompanied by guitar, ukuleles and finished by violin and guitar. Next Mary and John played a traditional piece with the tin-whistle and uilleann pipes, with John then doing a solo piece on the pipes. We continued the concert with well-known Christmas Carols such as 'Jingle Bells', 'Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer' playing them on the ukuleles and inviting the audience to sing along.

The reception we received from the children was brilliant and they all seemed in good spirits going back to their classrooms! We also enjoyed ourselves in the practicing and performing for the concert, and found the responses from the children, SNAs and teachers there friendly and warm!

7th Reflection

Today we discussed the role of competition in our classroom. We reflected on our own experience of competition in behaviour management, academia, sport or extra curricular activities. It was interesting to hear different viewpoints and feelings around competition, the negative and positive experiences. We looked at how we incorporate competition into our teaching and more specifically into music. This lead us onto analysing 'The Waltons Music for Schools' competition. The competition was set up in 2011, presented by Waltons Music and Waltons New School of Music. We watched five of the finalist's videos and evaluated each of their performances according to Inclusion/ Participation, Creativity, Musicality and presentation.

The philosophy behind the competition is very welcoming and inclusive, something that adds to music education which for so long has been regarded as exclusive. On the other hand, as future educators or leaders of music in primary schools we must be critical in who may be benefiting from these events. Seeing as Waltons Music is in the name of this type of competition, it could be regarded as an innovative form of advertisement for their business. Despite this, there are many positive outcomes as we concluded in our evaluations. Such as incorporating many art forms including dance, theatre, singing and instrumental performances which highlighted the varied range of musical talent in schools. There were a diverse range of musical talent used to create a certain atmosphere, which we all found to be very effective.

The children seemed enthusiastic on stage to show their talents to the audience. As Hallam in 'The Power of Music' expresses that the impact music can have on children's lives can benefit many non-musical elements and skills of their education and mental and physical growth. The performances celebrated the positive, diverse influence of music for children in schools.

My favourite performance

Ukulele practice

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8th Reflection

Throughout this session we used iPads as a way of composing and performing. They could also be used for listening, but the apps were mainly circulating the strands of composing and performing. The workshop enabled us to interact with many different apps that would be useful in the class. They were mostly free with one or two being costly, although beneficial for the classroom.

The first app we explored in groups was focused on percussion, there were two different apps we were using for this. One was a drum kit and the other was a xylophone. The two apps' sound was of high quality and the texture was very similar to that of the actual instrument. We came up with a layer rhythm as a group using the two apps, and could experience how simple but effective the exercise would be in the classroom.

The second app I particularly enjoy was around percussion and composition. There were rewards to build the children's motivation on the app such as if you made a particularly creative composition than before you can give the monkey a banana. The composition could be layered and you could also unlock multiple additional instruments. The only downfall to this app is that it is only available on Apple app stores, and not on Google Play.

Music

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Conclusion

Finally, to conclude this page with a general reflection on the course of the Music Minor Specialism over the past year I would like to comment on my learning. I have gained greater insight into improvisation, rhythm on the Samba drums, lesson and scheme planning from the beginning of 2016. Followed by an exploration of music pedagogy practices and how to use them practically in the classroom, learning to play the ukulele, the importance of the listening strand of the music curriculum in mainstream and SEN settings. Finally overall, I have gained more confidence to use my personal musical experience in the classroom, to be innovative and bring enjoyment to children through music throughout my future career. 

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