Here at the Fun Music Company we’re working hard at the moment to keep in touch with the curriculum requirements in our home country of Australia, as well as around the world.
Right now, the Australian National Curriculum is being reviewed, and is currently in its consultation phase. Some states in Australia use the National curriculum exclusively, and some use its state based equivalents. Even if you’re in a state that uses a state curriculum (e.g. NSW and Western Australia) it is likely that those curricula will change soon to reflect changes in the National Curriculum, as they are all modeled on the national version.
In this article we thought we would look at one area in depth, and explore exactly what has changed, and what kind of teaching ideas need to be implemented going forward to cover it comprehensively.
Today we’re looking at the new “Developing Skills” strand, which is designed to help students develop skills, practice and ideas.
Previously, the content statement for this began with the phrase “Develop Aural skills” for K-4, and included “Using Aural Skills” for Grades 5-6.
The content statements WERE:
|Foundation, Grades 1 and 2||Develop aural skills by exploring and imitating sounds, pitch and rhythm patterns using voice, movement and body percussion (ACAMUM080)|
|Grades 3 and 4||Develop aural skills by exploring, imitating and recognising elements of music including dynamics, pitch and rhythm patterns (ACAMUM084)|
|Grades 5 and 6||Explore dynamics and expression, using aural skills to identify and perform rhythm and pitch patterns (ACAMUM088)|
The proposed new content statements:
|Foundation||use play, imagination, arts knowledge and skills to discover possibilities and develop ideas (AC9ADRFP01)|
|Grades 1 and 2||trial options for using voices and instruments for specific purposes and develop listening skills (AC9AMU2P01)|
|Grades 3 and 4||use listening skills and experiment with ways to manipulate the elements of music using voice and instruments to achieve intended effects (AC9AMU4P01)|
|Grades 5 and 6||develop vocal, instrumental and listening skills and techniques to control and vary sounds (AC9AMU6P01)|
It should be noted that this is only a draft proposal at this stage, and it still under consultation.
This is quite a big change – and obviously contains quite a departure from the idea of “developing aural skills” to a more general process which could include quite a few different skills including listening and performing.
Here at the Fun Music Company we are excited about these changes, as we can see a lot of opportunity to develop new lesson ideas which will expand students awareness and knowledge.
To expand on this further, here are the descriptions of what the “developing skills” strand should include, and a few ideas on how we could apply these in the classroom.
Skills, techniques and processes for using the elements of music: rhythm, pitch, dynamics and expression, form and structure, timbre and texture
The elements of music are front and center of this. Having students understand that elements of music are like the “building blocks” that make up music is important in all music instruction.
A key idea for implementing this in the classroom is AURAL GAMES
In the Fun Music Company curriculum program we have many aural games, where students are asked to echo or repeat a pattern played by the teacher. These are always designed to highlight particular elements of music.
For example, an echo clapping exercise will have some loud and some soft patterns, therefore emphasizing the musical element of dynamics. Alternatively an echo singing activity will focus on the musical element of pitch.
Always, as is practiced in all good music instruction – students learn through DOING. This is why experiential games are part of all of our materials here at the Fun Music Company. Information that we just tell students will go in one ear, and out the other. However knowledge that is gained through experience will be retained.
Listening skills for performing and composing including skills for identifying, interpreting and understanding how elements of music are being used or manipulated (aural skills)
Here what we need is to encourage directed listening, and we need to implement highly targeted DIRECTED LISTENING GAMES.
What is needed here is to implement really targeted listening: 20-30 second excerpts of music that focus in on one particular elements of music, so that students can really hear how the element of music is creating to the musical experience that the listener experiences.
Vocal and instrumental techniques and skills for individual and collaborative music-making
Here music teachers will do what music teachers have done for generations: teaching musical techniques for playing and experiencing music through playing and singing music.
At the early grades this will include things like marching to the beat, clapping and using body percussion to feel consistent beat.
As students get older skills will include things like directed breathing, pitch matching and reading notation.
Processes for creating new music works such as composing, song-writing, music production, improvising or sound design
To cover this, what is needed is a range of IMPROVISATION GAMES.
These games will begin with improvisation starting with some really simple ideas such as having students clap back a different rhythm in response to a musical question.
For example it can be as simple as clapping in time with,… “What is your name..” and having the students respond with their name rhythmically.
As students get older, this can progress to instruments and beginning to notate their own improvisations and turn them into their own compositions.
Processes for interpreting music such as arranging, re-imagining, editing or mixing
Here at the beginning levels this will begin with DIRECTED LISTENING GAMES, where students will listen to a short excerpt of music and interpret what is going on.
From here, students can view performances and learn a process of critical evaluation, thinking about how the music is put together, and moving to their own ideas about how music can be constructed and created.
Processes for documenting music using conventional notation and/or emerging forms and methods
Beginning in the Grade 3-4 area, students will explore here how to use conventional music notation, and non-traditional methods.
For example, students inventing their own notation systems can be a wonderful way of starting the process of reading and writing music!
In summary, here at the Fun Music Company we are really excited about the possibilities of this new strand in the Australian Curriculum. We’re currently working really hard on a new set of AURAL GAMES, DIRECTED LISTENING GAMES, IMPROVISATION GAMES and NOTATION GAMES for the Fun Music Company Curriculum which will make this content strand super easy to cover in the classroom.