Teaching Together: International Collaboration

11th October 2016 , By Lucy Dalton

Guest blog by Lucy Dalton, MFUK Champion Teacher

MLR Tour -1-40

About a year ago Musical Futures teachers from Australia and New Zealand came to the UK. Besides visiting Fred Longworth High School in Manchester, where I teach, we all attended the Music Learning Revolution conference in London. Friendships were formed and contact details exchanged. I’d been sharing ideas and resources with these music teachers from the other side of the world when I thought how brilliant it would be if pupils from Freddie’s could make music with pupils from different countries. I came up with the YouTube orchestra idea- this is when a song is performed and recorded in different locations, and the audio and visuals will together to form a music video.   The idea generated an enthusiastic response from all my contacts. Twelve schools from across the UK, New Zealand and Australia, with over 300 pupils aged between 4 -18, participated.


Viva la Vida by Coldplay was my chosen resource and I asked teachers to get pupils to perform the piece in any style or genre, any size of ensemble and on any instrument. Teachers kindly complied before forwarding their pupils’ recordings to me.

At Fredddie’s, I taught Viva la Vida using the Just Play approach that I first heard of at the MLR last year in London. (This year at the MLR in Manchester I am leading the Just Play session.) Using this method, all pupils in my class learned how to play the piece of music on a range of instruments. I then recorded them playing their chosen instrument. The other schools used whole-class workshopping and informal band skills approaches. Many soloists were recorded and percussion predominated amongst the younger pupils.

Pupils from Timbarra P-9 College, Melbourne, used musical instrument apps on their iPads, and Morpeth School, London, recorded each part separately before using an app showing all pupils performing together.

Have you seen the 2017 training programme from Musical Futures?

In June, I was extremely honoured to be invited to visit Musical Futures schools in Melbourne. There I got to meet the YouTube Orchestra pupils from Timbarra P-9 College. They even performed Viva la Vida for me, which was very exciting. During my time in Melbourne I was amazed to see how dynamic the Musical Futures teachers were, and the extent of pupil engagement and enjoyment in their music lessons. The whole experience was truly life changing, and included some of the best CPD I have so far been involved in during my teaching career.


Lucy with MFA Champion Teacher Peter Crowe and students from Timbarra P-9 involved in the Viva la Vida project.


Excellent workshops ‑ extremely accessible for all abilities and levels."

Claire Armour, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra