Timbarra P-9 College, Victoria, Australia


Timbarra teachers Peter Crowe and Julie Sullivan outline how they implemented musical futures.

Background:
Teachers first discovered Musical Futures when they attended a day run by Ken Owen from Soundhouse at Trafalgar Primary School and from Ben Smith, the teacher there. They felt that MF would be appropriate for them because:

  • It requires or allows use of 21st century learning tools.
  • It makes music more relevant to students and easily individualises it for them.
  • It has the potential to make a lot more students life-long learners and lovers of music.

How teachers ‘changed’ the way they approach teaching and learning as a result of being involved in Musical Futures:

  • It is changing the way we teach to be less directed and more inquiry based.
  • It provides for differentiated learning and teaching for both teachers and students.
  • You are supposed to be a facilitator rather than a director
  • Started recording and uploading performance to NUMU

The impact of Musical Futures on students:

  • Students are definitely more engaged
  • There has been an increased purchasing by families of instruments for personal use at home.
  • This has been the case in particular with keyboard and guitar however some students have bought ukuleles and drums
  • There has been an increased use of dusty old instruments already at home. This has been the case in particular with keyboards and guitars!
  • Students have commented that we’re trusting them more and we’re letting them have more control of their own learning
  • MF has created a new buzz and a level of excitement about Music with both teachers and students

Convincing senior management:
It is critical to have support from the senior school management.  So we started with that objective in mind.  Then:

  • Borrowed a jamhub and an electric drumkit on loan for 3 weeks
  • Formed a trial student group who performed live in front of the senior leadership team and then taught the leadership team (principal and assistant principal how to use the jamhubs).
  • The students decided on the song that they wanted to perform for our leadership team and the instrument that they would play.
  • Developed a plan and a budget for 3 years totalling $25,000 and made a formal presentation 

Getting started:
Making a start is always the hardest part.  Doing something new or for the first time requires a bit of risk taking but its also exciting.  Here’s how we made our start.

  • To build foundation skills we chose a song for all the students that had a repetitive riff and not too complicated for chords
  • We made chord charts for guitar, bass, keys and ukes
  • We introduced ukuleles to the students
  • We taught students to tune the instruments
  • We taught the students how to use the jam hub
  • We introduced music website such as tuners, lyrics and chords and Numu
  • We surveyed the students – their favourite songs and preferred instrument.(including singing)
  • Students selected their bands
  • Despite having only two jam hubs and one live kit there were, in some cases, there were nine students per band. We were amazed at how well the students worked together
  • The students decided to all work on the same song. (A little bit of security perhaps.) This year they can’t wait to all have different band songs
  • All choosing to perform the same song was interesting in that the metronome speed, introductions, codas and performances were all slightly different
  • Bands performed in front of their buddy grades

Since then:

  • We have applied for funding for 2 extra jam hubs.
  • We have revised known chords and introduced new ones.
  • Revised the websites and resources to improve independent working
  • introduced new chords that are commonly found in many of the student’s song choices. This is just to assist the students in feeling confident in their own abilities when they move into their bands. They can’t wait
  • We have asked the students to research and explain the music notation related to chords being revised and introduced
  • We have taken the time to do this revision and skill building whilst waiting for further funding, as after assessing the student’s feedback and our own reflection, we would all prefer to have bands of up to only 6 members
  • We have practiced making sure that we are listening to each other as we play and sing, concentrating on timing ad being aware of what everyone is playing….skills required in life as well as a band