What I’ve been up to in my classroom

Inspired by Jane Werry’s  fantastic blogpost titled “what’s going on in my classroom right now” I thought I’d share too.

Don't stop believing
[Insert motivational quote]

The new Edexcel Music GCSE 

I’ve started with one of the Setworks- ‘Release’ by Afro Celt Sound System. I really like the track with its great music video…

We listened to the track, to work out what was going on and talked about all the different influences etc. Then we moved on to workshopping it as a class with violins, a saxophone, a french horn, bass guitar, some singing, a load of keyboards and percussion!

I then set them a composition/arrangement task (here’s the actual brief). I gave them a couple of loops that they had to use,  they could take other ideas as well but then they needed to create their own ideas and melodies. This has kind of led to us working towards ABA arrangements/compositions with a contrasting B section.

Here are a couple of examples of where we’ve got to so far…

Year 7- Just Play 

I’ve blogged about Just Play from Musical Futures here and you can find out more on their website here. But now I teach every student in year 7  and since the start of term we have all been going on the Just Play journey together!

My aim is that every student in year 7 knows how to play a load chords on the keyboard and guitar as well as having a strong understanding of chord sequences and song structures so that they can download lead sheets of their favourite songs from the internet and learn them independently.

I split the class in half, they start on one instrument and then later on we swap over and start all over again! So by the end of this first half term everyone can play a minimum of 5 chords and various chord sequences on both the guitar and keyboard.

Year 8 & 9 Rhythm 

I started off the year doing the same thing with both year 8 & 9, making sure that we had a good understanding of three words- Pulse, Beat & Rhythm, doing various circle games as a class to try and develop the ability to hold a pulse, count beats, listen, copy and improvise.

Then on to ostinatos, I asked them to layer up vocal rhythmic ostinatos using the names of characters from Harry Potter (here’s the task sheet from the TES website) . Even the year 9s who initially thought they were too grown up for it were a little embarrassed when i showed them a video of my year 4s doing it better than them.

Moving on I taught them a couple of call and responses, a chocolate themed polyrhythm thing and did some improvising. All ideas stolen from a colleague in my department at my previous school (thanks Rob). Then I sent them off to do the same in smaller groups with this very dull task sheet.

We did this for a couple of weeks and at the end of every lesson we filmed performances and watched them back at the start of the next lesson. Using the criteria from the task sheet they worked out what they needed to do to improve to score at least 4 out of 5 in each area. Above is  very much a “work in progress” performance that kind of gives you an idea of what they are working towards.

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