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 skill