Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Music & Literacy - Stewart Headlam - First Visit

The New London Orchestra is committed to making their workshops in schools related to the curriculum, and one of our main focuses has been Literacy, and how working with music, we can improve literacy skills. The New London Orchestra ran a Music & Literacy project with Year 3s in schools in Hammersmith a few years back which was really successful and we wanted to build on that. As a result, some of our musicians worked on the outline for a project for Year 6s after they'd finished their SATs exams, as this was identified as a year group at a time in school with not much focus. The project we created was all about 'moving on' - as the students started to think about moving to new schools, and reflecting on their time at their primary school and the memories they have. We have funding in place to run this at two schools, and Stewart Headlam Primary School will be the first to experience it!

Lucy and Vicky went today to check out Stewart Headlam, and got to meet the Year 6 teachers there, Martin McCarthy and Haleema Rouf. We chatted about the Year 6s that will take part, who apparently are really creative and have a singing star of the future among them, which we're excited to hear about! We heard about the story telling the students have been focusing on, and the Māori story they will be telling with puppets they had made. It all sounds like great starting ideas for something the classes can create when our musicians come in at the end of June, as well as creating songs and pieces of music depicting their time at school. We also talked about making a video recording of the sessions and interviewing each student with some questions they had come up with themselves about their time at school, which could be put together with a video of the final performance and make a memento of their time at Stewart Headlam. We'll be heading back at the beginning of June to do a final planning meeting, so keep your eyes peeled for blogs about this project later in the year.

Something else we notice at a lot of schools we visit is the huge cupboards of instruments they have, and how little they seem to be used! So many teachers say to us "I'm not musical enough" or "someone from another organisation comes in to do our music teaching." Have you read this article: about Ofsted's opinion of music teaching? Do you think it's okay to stop having music lessons in the lead up to exam time? Do we only do music lessons to identify the musicians of the future, or should we be teaching listening skills too? Do teachers need to be taught how to use music in the classroom, or should we just leave it to 'experts' from outside?

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