Models of development

Post twenty-five in our (re)learning to teach music series. This is the second week responding to the tasks in Chris Philpotts’s chapter – the third in Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School. This is week FIVE of the collaborative blogging. 

The task will be to look at page 48 in the chapter (the table with some models of musical/artistic development)

  • Identify any broad similarities between the theories,
  • Identify any contradictions
  • Do any of the theories confirm or contradict your own experience?

Vaughan Fleischfresser @VFleischfresser

David House @House_dg

I see similarities between the models in an interesting move from the personal to the public and back to the personal again tinged with the public experience: the youngest children having a very personal response to music, becoming aware of, and altering, their responses in a public situation but then combining the two as they explore music for themselves. It is noteworthy that along with the increase in age comes an increased awareness of the influence of instruction in some of the models. For me the main feature that I would like to my own experience is that the stages of development are progressive but not closely tied to age in reality. More sophisticated development is seen at a higher ‘age’, but in a typical classroom of, say, 11 yr olds I would expect to encounter musical development across all stages shown by these models. I would make an analogy with the learning of a foreign language here – colleagues in MFL will potentially be faced with students who have no experience of French alongside those who are bi-lingual as they have parents of two nationalities and have spoken English and French throughout their life. It is always surprising to me that as adults our linguistic achievements on holiday equate to that of a primary school student in the native country. Musically this level of understanding will still often stay with students into adulthood, and it leads to a very interesting consideration of whether or not it matters that adults might have a very juvenile appreciation of a particular subject or we should expect something much more sophisticated.

Mike Morgan @MikeMMusicED

Identify any broad similarities between the theories The one similarity which strikes me is the notion of music having value on a personal level at the age of 15+. I interpret this as an idea that all “training would have been done” by the age of 15. The learning of ‘about’ and the ‘how’ of music would have been learnt and now the pupils are discovering what the music means to them and how it can relate to their own musical experiences in a global context (encultured). While this may be the case. I feel students (And anyone learning an instrument/music at any age) develops through these at different speeds so this will need to be considered.

Do any of the Theories confirm or contradict your own experience? As someone who is currently re-thinking the curriculum in my department, I find the models very useful. The times we are in at the moment in the remote learning can really help to accelerate and also hinder some aspects.

Could this be a new aspect to theory of Musical Learning? We are developing a curriculum from FS-Post 16 and hoping to create a sequence. Using these models can help develop and focus this and will be something I will present to my team at some time in the future. At present, I am leaning towards Shuter-Dyson and Gabriel (1981) where we are hoping to not only develop skills at KS3, but also pupil’s knowledge and application of elements of rhythm, melody and harmony with a focus on these concepts.

I also see lots of similarities in the new curriculum for IB Diploma Music at 15+. The emphasis of this is for pupils to explore their own musical interests and broaden their thinking and interactions with music.

Ewan McIntosh @ETMcINTOSH

Many of the theories have a lot of similarities, especially with the younger students. However the theories do fall down slightly for younger children as there seems to be no mention of the very young who are taught a specific musical instrumental skill such as into etc.

There are lots of lovely videos on Youtube that show some very proficient 4 and 5 year olds playing music that some of my GCSE students would struggle with. IF young students 0-8 are as Sloboda says ‘do not aspire to improve their ability to pick up songs’ or as we may assume other musical instrumental skills, how do these young virtuosos come about? From my own experience of learning the piano from 6, I wanted to improve at that age and would spend lots of my time practising to get things perfect. Musically I may not have had all the emotional skills to fully convey the music but asking my parents today, they agreed that it was still good music making. I would also agree with Parsons et al in that when I was growing up, the types of music I liked to play were those that I also listened a lot to. MY parents are big opera fans so I liked music that reminded me of opera, big melodies with nice accompaniments, Mozart, Schumann etc.

For the 11-15 students, I would agree with the theories in that their perception and skills improve. Tis is mainly due to the more regular and formal music teaching that many students get at KS3. Most KS3 programmes of study as based around developing performing, composing and listening and appraising. These then are the skills that will be developed formally. Lots of informal and non formal music making will also occur at these ages as pupils take part in school clubs, form bands, experiment with their devices at home to make all sort of music. Lots of this music will as Swanwick says use ’authentic structures’ of the idioms they are used to but there will also be a lot of experimentation and breaking of the rules of these forms. I would also argue that it is at this age that many students are exposed to a wide variety of traditions and styles of music, not at GCSE where the syllabuses are now quite narrow.

At 15+, I agree that many students have an increased emotional response to music; this links with their more social aspects of their lives and music being associated with different memories of activities or feeling they may experience (every teenager has a break up song or piece of some sort). I also believe that instruction for some students is how their depth of knowledge increases but for some it is self study and non formal; finding things out for themselves on the wonders of the internet.

Steven Berryman @steven_berryman

To Add. 


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