Emergent reflections

Post thirty-four in our (re)learning to teach music series. This is the second week responding to the tasks in chapter five in Learning to Teach Music in the Secondary School. This is week seven of the collaborative blogging. 

Mike Morgan @MikeMMusicED

From reading and researching the music curriculum through chapter 5, I feel my ideas of a ‘what a music curriculum is’ has not really changed. I always assumed it was a journey. What is the journey that the pupils will take within their time in school? I feel curriculums can be as flexible or static as needed, but depends on the context. It can be flexible where there are less pupils in the class and more emphasis can be placed on their interests due to the small number. It needs to be stricter for key stage 3 where classes are larger and even less time on the timetable is given. I have had large key stage 3 classes where engagement in music was extremely high and the curriculum was able to be molded around them, but also classes where the need for structure was more prevalent. I do like the idea of pupils being involved in the planning of the curriculum. While using student voice as an exercise is nothing new, using this data to really help inform how a curriculum is delivered, not just topics taught, is something to consider.

Vaughan Fleischfresser @VFleischfresser

Having reflected on chapter five and thought deeply about an emergent curriculum, I would say (today) that a music curriculum is the main thoroughfare of a spaghetti junction. Let me try and unpack this for you:

A spaghetti junction is an impressive feat of engineering designed to bring vehicles together, while ensuring everyone gets to their final destination. Everyone is coming from somewhere different. Everyone is going somewhere different. Everyone brings their own experiences and stories to the road, all while travelling it together. Each experience of the road is unique yet influences the journey of everybody else on it. It is a shared space, with a common goal, informed by numerous different starting points and destinations. The beauty of a spaghetti junction is that it doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care where you’ve come from or where you’re going. It just cares that everyone gets to their final destination safe, sound, and happy. For me, a music curriculum is the same. Every pupil comes from a different music background, and each will have a different relationship with music once their time in school is over. They’ll also exit the curriculum at different points, and despite this, they should all have positive things to say about their journey and what they learned along the way. While learning music at school, they’ll travel together, they’ll share experiences, and they’ll create new ones, all while learning about music individually and collectively. For this to occur, the road (curriculum) needs to be strong, yet flexible, allowing the pupils to experience the curriculum, and exit it, in whatever way suits their journey (needs) best. Our pupils aren’t the same, they don’t travel in the same car, and they don’t end up in the same place. With this in mind, a music curriculum should ensure that every pupil can do this, all while still having a positive and meaningful journey along the way.

I did say that I’d try and unpack my thought process for you. Whether I’ve been successful, or not, is for another day.

David House @House_dg

Following the work from Chapter 5 I would identify a Music curriculum that would link directly to our school statement of the purpose of music as part of the curriculum: To equip all pupils with the knowledge, skills, dispositions and understandings to make music well. To induct pupils into existing cultures of making music as a source of creative and critical engagement. To encourage all pupils, as unique individuals, to engage with the next steps of their lifelong musical journey, and to know a sense of personal freedom through music made well. Picking some important points from this in the light of the chapter I would say that the curriculum is for everyone, for them all to critically engage with existing cultures, for each student to recognise and develop their individual identity alongside corporate responsibility in a classroom context.

Ewan McIntosh @ETMcINTOSH

What is a music curriculum? This is a broad question. After reading chapter 5, I would say that it is a statement of intention of what musical education a school will offer the children on its role. It might be a poor curriculum with no provision at KS1 and KS2 and very limited rotation at KS3 and no KS4 or KS5 provision. It might be very detailed and full of music making opportunities where KS1 pupils sing regularly with their class teacher, who is a music specialist and coaches them to be experts and the work is well though out to link to KS2, where instrumental provision is given by expert peripatetic teachers and pupils play in ensembles.

Whatever the music-making, a curriculum is a concept that can be used to judge the quality of a music education. Not the quality of teaching, but the quality of activity that will enable pupils to develop a musicians. The curriculum will have been thought of/ developed by teachers( and hopefully some pupils) and will be the overarching vision of the department about what will be taught and how this will develop the students musically.

Steven Berryman @steven_berryman

I don’t think my view of curriculum as changed. I haven’t changed my mind on the value of planning a journey with the space to take advantage of interesting sights along the way, and detours that might enhance the experience. Designing a purposeful, musical and inclusive music curriculum remains the privilege of being a classroom music teacher. When we add up the total hours we have for each key stage it can feel so small; embrace what we have and make the most of it. This is the fun part of designing a curriculum. I hope, whatever choices we make, colleagues give us space to experiment, the confidence to tweak and refine and hold off on what Brian Eno referred to as the ‘screwdriver’ too early in the process. 

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