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Semester 2, 2020 – New Start+


It’s been a while since I’ve placed a new reflection into this blog.
So starts semester 2, and so restarts my blogposts.
Nothing much has changed since semester 1; everything is still on online, everyone is still having classes over Zoom.

However, the difference between semester 1 and 2 in blogposts is that I am currently writing these reflections AFTER the end of all the tutorials and lectures. Therefore, I have decided to reogranise the reflection structure from a weekly summary into reflections on the concepts we have learnt during the semester. The downside to this is that some ideas may become left out (and James could get sad) but I this structure serves better as I am able to reflect on the important ideas than re-going through all the lectures and just trying to remember what we have done.

(A quick thank you to James for the wonderful semester!)

Orff-Keetman-Schulwerk and Kodaly Method

In the first few weeks, we discussed the Orff-Keetman Schulwerk and the Kodaly method teaching pedagogy in music education. We talked about how they work, some key ideas and some examples of these pedagogies. I would love to go in detail about the approaches but I think there are much more better sources available than me, so I will just give a quick rundown, then I will jot down some key points that really stood out to me.

The Orff-Keetman-Schulwerk approach to music education concerns the musical needs of the students by emphasizing the musicality of each student through singing and body percussion. Furthermore, speech and movement; including dancing, are all encouraged to ensure that students are active and engaged during the activities.

Carf Orff (1895-1982)

Percussion – specifically body percussion is also a very important part in the Orff-Keetman-Schulwerk approach. I believe that body percussion is incredbily useful because it allows students to ‘move around’ and become more engaged in music activities. Additionally, body percussion is a great way to implement in a rhythm lesson.
In my piano lessons, I’ve already been utilizing claps and hits as a way to teach rhythm, as well as to engage students in the lessons, so I am quite accustomed to using body percussion during teaching.
However, the Orff-Keetman-Schulwerk approach of linking words to body percussion and rhythm is quite new to me. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of using my voice while beating rhythm in my lessons because it can get messy really quickly, but I am slowly trying it out and getting more experienced at using both at the same time. Utilizing both voice and body percussion is a wonderful skill to have. When rhythm gets hard, it is really useful to add a word to help dissect the rhythm and students will also be able to remember this more deeply if words are applied to the rhythm.

For the Kodaly method – there were a couple of things that I already have been utilizing in my classes such as singing solfa and rhythmic words. The Kodaly method also utilizes a pitch ladder and hand signs to indicate solfa. Not gonna lie, the hand sings were actually a big eye opener to me, but it is incredibly hard to remember all of the signs. However, I am now trying to engage my hands during my lessons to indicate pitch levels and solfa, because I feel like using hands to indicate high or low pitch is a really useful way for students to view different pitch levels.

Curwen Hand Signs

Chunking is also one of the biggest points that I have learnt during our discussions. The idea of chunking is to seperate a piece or song into smaller, bite sized chunks for the students to consume. For example, if we have an 8 bar song – we first seperate the music into 1 bar phrases. We as teachers sing each bar first, then getting the students to repeat back to us. Next, seperate the music into two bars, and then getting the students to repeat 2 bars at once. Next 4 bars, and lastly all 8 bars. Thus, the idea of chunking a piece into smaller sizes.
This idea of chunking is easily one of the most memorable part of both approaches. Chunking is constantly used in music education, because playing music is the best way to learn music.
As a piano teacher, I constantly use chunking during my lessons to teach all of my students. Infact, even now when I am learning new pieces, I also end up chunking harder places to get more practice in those sections.
Chunking can become a part of a student’s learning method and i’m sure it can be utilized even outside of music education.

Lastly, the most important thing that has been constantly highlighted to us: Talk less!
This idea has been cemented into my head as of recently, to the point where I constantly reminding myself to play more rather than talking in my piano lessons. I think it is a great concept to have in your head because music is all about performing, and what better way to learn music than to perform music
Obviously, there are times where talking needs to be completed, such as theory classes, but the concept of talking less and more using hand signs, or indicators is a great way to capture student attention.
Talking gets tiring easily, for both the student and the teacher. The teacher already has to talk every day to assist students, and students will get bored incredibly easily if the teacher is constantly talking. Therefore, at least during music classes, it is a great concept to have in your head that: less talking means more performing.

Contemporary Developments of Music Education – Informal Learning

As we move into the year 2020, we can take a look back at music education and see the different paths that emerged in music education. One of these paths is ‘Informal Learning’.

In my blogposts for the first semester of 2020, I had inputted some of my thoughts into Informal Learning (IL). This semester, instead of rewriting all of my points from my previous blogposts, I wil be writing up on how my views have changed over the span of 2020

In my first interaction with IL, I really didn’t think much into it; I thought, “oh, just another practice that will go over my head during my classes”. That has changed substantially over the year and I feel now that IL is an incredibly good way to get students to learn music.
IL is easily one of the most engaging ways to allow students to learn music education. When students are given more freedom and voice during their learning, they are much more likely to be engaged and more connected to their work. Instead of treating the assignment as a ‘must-do’, they will realise the effort matters because it is something that they chose to do. This mindset will substantially increase the work quality and engagement during classes. Students actually have an increased engagement level when their education connects and relates to their own lives (Goble, 2009). Therefore, allowing students to have a voice in their work will establish a connection between them and the activity, and thus students will be more engaged and more focused in the activity.

Explorer Story Time, alumni PNG

I really want to try out Informal Learning and connect it with collaboration in my future classrooms. The possibility of a “learning community” (Green, 2016) is such a wonderful thought to hear as a music teacher. Imagine a classroom where students are working collaboratively on a task. Every member of this group is an integral part to the overall product, and combined with the ideas of engagement with student voice, a learning community will be able to produce an amazing product as their end result.

Just like everything in life, risks are involved in IL as well as collaboration.
What if a student does not get along with the other students in the group?
What if students just does not work at all?
Could there be students that are unable to work without a teacher guiding the path?

There are millions of possible questions, and it would be pointless to sit here and answer all of these question on a blank sheet of paper.
The best way to see if your IL plan works, is to go and test it out.
What if a student does not get along? – put more thought into the groups
What if a student does not work? – find another solution to engage him

See, I can just sit here all day and come up with an answer to these questions. But there is no point unless we actually put the plan into action.
So, go and test out your IL plan, modify it based on your classroom, record any problems that you face and polish any sharp edges that you can see!

Goble, J. S. (2009) Pragmatism, music’s import, and music teachers as change agents. In T. A. Regelski & J. T. Gates (Eds), Music Education for Changing Times: Guiding Visions for Practice (pp. 73–84). New York: Springer.

Green, L. (2016). Music, informal learning and the school : A new classroom pedagogy. ProQuest Ebook Central

Contemporary Developments of Music Education – Multiculturalism

Culturally Responsive Music (CRM) is one of the concepts that we discussed during the last few weeks of the semester. The idea here is to use cultrual knowledge and prior experiences to make the learning encouters more relevant to students. (Gay, 2010)

Isabel Rakuljic came in on Zoom to speak to us in more detail about CRM pedagogy in week 7. (Thank you Isabel!) A lot of her ideas and concepts were really intriguing to me.
Cultrual competency is one of these concepts. It is the ability to understand and interact with people from cultrues or belief systems different from their own (DeAngelis, 2015). This concept feels so straightward and simple but I’ve never really realised this until now. As teachers, we should definitely be able to understand and communicate with people across cultures, across views and across practices. There will be students from cultrual backgrounds all over the world, and it is up to us to accept different cultrual backgrounds and gain knowledge on these different cultural backgrounds, practices and views.

Another big idea that stood out to me is the importance of considering the different identities of all the students. There will be students that take pride in their heritage and can be greatly influenced by the stereotypes, discrimination and judgement.
Identity is incredibly complex, an easy reminder is the HSC topic of Belonging back in year 12. Defining belonging was practically impossible because everyone has a different meaning in belonging. Identity is closely related to belonging, both of these concepts are incredibly hard to define because of all the different meanings for each person. However, what I got out of this section is that you make up your identity. Rather than making all these assumptions or focusing on the stereotypes of each person, we should create opportunites for students to support their cultrual background and heritage.
We should allow them realise their own definition of identity.

DeAngelis, T. (2015). In search of cultural competence. Monitor on Psychology, 46(3), 64-69.

Gay, G.(2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press

Classroom Management

Lastly, I wanted to reflect on the classroom management concepts that Jennifer Rowley had discussed with us. (Thank you Jennifer!)

Are you a teacher that strictly enforces the rules? Or are you a teacher that is firm and fair on the rules?
There are four classroom management categories for teachers

  • Authoritarian – A teacher that strictly enforces the rules, creates direct instructions and even seating plans while the students stay quiet and listening
  • Authoritative – A teacher that enforces firm rules but has a fair judgement on the rules, considers the consequences of their actions, gives positive feedback and giving classroom discussions with a lot of student voices
  • Indulgent – A teacher that is serious about their teaching and comes very prepared, have close connections to the students while the students are in charge of the class. The teacher deeply cares for the student but are not strict enough to maintain order of the class.
  • Permissive – A teacher that doesn’t really care about the class, does not prepare for the lesson and knows nothing about the students. They are not connected to their class at all.

Which category of teaching do you belong to?

For me, I feel that I am currently between Indulgent and Authoritative. I want to be friends with my students but sometimes lose my authority as a teacher.
As a teacher, I feel that all of these categories (apart from permissive) should be considered when teaching a class. You will more than likely have to switch your management style between different classes because every class will be made out of different groups of students. Sometimes you get a class that is complete chaos and you will need to take a stand as an Authoritarian teacher. Occasionally you might get the class that is quite and listening and you are able to take on the role as an Indulgent teacher.
We are always learning, even as teachers. Thus we should be able to take our classroom experience as a way to learn about different situations, and how to properly manage different classroom situations. This way, we are able to easily adapt to different situations of classrooms that are faced in front of us. Even when we are faced with new problems and challenges, we should be looking for a way to create a learning environment for the students that is positive and engaging.

My Project for the 21st Century Teaching Mode

When James had first put up his example of the 21st Century Teaching Mode, I had immediately thought about either using SoundTrap or Ableton Live for my project. I ultimately decided to use SoundTrap because I most definitely would not be able to fit Ableton Live in a short video.

In my project, I wanted to do a one take record with as minimal amounts of editing as possible. No I’m not being lazy. I really wanted to challenge myself to see if I am able to use SoundTrap as a tool in a classroom.
So in this short tutorial I showcased a quick method to use as a number generator to input beats into the baseline. Although I completed the video a few minutes over the time limit, I feel that the challenge was a success and I feel quite prepared to utilize SoundTrap in my classroom.


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