Exploring music (violin) and musings about music teaching in the PYP

I might, or might not have had an influence on the choices of musical instruments to explore with my class. In their music lessons with Serena, their music teacher, they have all learned a bit of the flute, and explored the keyboard she so kindly brought in a few times. I think it is important for everyone to try out all sorts of instruments, no matter what headache it can produce in others. This is about fun, about exploring, about feeling, and about learning something new.

The violin has always been my first choice instrument. The fact that one girl in my class plays it beautifully, and was willing to share (she always is), only helped.
The student brought in her 1/2 size violin, and not only tried to give everyone the right feeling of holding and playing the violin, she also played a few songs for us. Including one of our favourites, Vivaldi’s Autumn (we have studied the four seasons before).

The most amazing bit for me might have been the connections made between the cello and the violin. While the cello is played quite harshly (you have to really work the bow), the violin is delicate. The bow touches the strings like a feather, otherwise you get some wonderful screeching.  Strings fascinate children, and I think a lot of them were actually a bit afraid of both the cello and the violin. But they all tried it out. They all got to enjoy the violin.

And most importantly, they got to appreciate it.

That brings me back to the point about what kind of equipment schools should have. The focus of the school is obviously a determining factor. In Berlin I worked at a school that considered itself to have an art focus. To me, the arts includes music, just as it does include performance and visual art. Others think that art is art. Visual art. But we managed to slightly shift that view at the school as a team.
We were able to buy some percussions, even a drum kit. But my idea of a fully-equipped music room was never fulfilled.

I would love to see every school equipped with all sorts of different instruments. Wind, string, percussion and electronic instruments. Producing software. Even if it is just Garage band.
And in a PYP school, one where we are aiming to develop internationally-minded people, with a broad perspective of the world, I think we should have instruments representing different cultures. How is having multicultural resources in the library different from having multicultural instruments? Is it not equally as important? Is music not another language we should be aware of? And be able to learn if we want to?

I would love to hear from people who work at schools that are implementing anything similar to my suggestions above. Is it you? Do you know anyone? Is it important?


One thought on “Exploring music (violin) and musings about music teaching in the PYP

  1. Our school offers 2 weeks of class lessons on violin to see if they like it (Grade 2— 7 year olds). This year 20 students signed up for after school lessons (one third of the Grade 2 population). Grade 3 (aged 8) gets flutophones and by the end of the year they all read music. Grade 4 does recorder. Grade 5 does ukulele. We introduce theory and keyboard in middle school, with a keyboard per student, and guitar, and offer a special composition class elective at Grade 8. But, these are introductory classes given the fact that everyone progresses at a different rate. I would call the first half hour lesson inquiry based. After that, they are music lessons which are teaching music reading, technique (at a very basic level), coordination and playing which can only be done well by following rules and sensitive, child-friendly coaching. True inquiry based learning in music is possible once the rules are learned and can be intelligently broken to produce some creatively thought-out music.

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