During my maternity leave and the Grand Tour of the Grandparents, I am beginning to design my own music curriculum - if I had an infinite amount of time, teaching power and resources, what would my dream music curriculum look like? Ideally it would be intensive, holistic, creative, unrestricted by style, genre and tradition, and encouraging students to use their music to serve others in their community. This curriculum will have six strands of music learning:
Aural & practical musicianship
Instrument & ensemble skills
Composition & improvisation
This is hugely ambitious and it is unlikely that many schools will have the time to provide all the time required for their students to engage with each strand, but I wish to imagine what my ideal program would look like and cut down from there.
Whilst I was starting this I came across the 'Musical Routes' report about equality of access to music education recently published by the Royal Philharmonic Society (September 2015). It summarises really well the ghastly truth about music education opportunities being restricted to the elite, rich and lucky in the UK which makes my blood boil. The author, Sarah Derbyshire, recommends a unified concept of six strands of music learning, the Six Building Blocks of Progression.
2. Reading music
3. Access to instrumental tuition – formal and informal – with feedback on progress
4. Introduction of relevant digital technology (iPads leading children to taking up instruments, digital technology supporting distance learning etc.)
5. Attending live performance
6. Creative involvement – composition, improvisation, performance of their own work
I prefer to see digital technology as a means of enhancing learning in my six strands noted above rather than as a discreet building block.
Those of us who grew up following exams syllabi (ABRSM, etc) feel confident in instrument and performance skills, and if we were lucky enough to have musical ensembles at our schools or run by our county council musical service, we might have got proficient in singing and ensemble skills. Aural and practical musicianship would have been a by-product of this musical activities. So even those of us with access to music education received restricted opportunities for musical leaning and development.
Derbyshire shies away from any recommendation on pedagogy or curriculum, but we need to get some idea of what this would look like when implemented. Class music teachers have to start from scratch, there is no Hamilton Trust resources and schemes of work integrating all of these elements. I'll be blogging about how I get on...