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Does a curriculum emphasis on singing create higher levels of student focus/enjoyment/confidence than a more traditional primary curriculum?

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Presentation on theme: "Does a curriculum emphasis on singing create higher levels of student focus/enjoyment/confidence than a more traditional primary curriculum?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Does a curriculum emphasis on singing create higher levels of student focus/enjoyment/confidence than a more traditional primary curriculum?

2 “Music is not a gift but a right” (Mills, 2002 – Music in the school)

3 Rationale N.Q.T. year in performing arts/music–specialist secondary (singing reputation) Specialist Teacher of Music (secondary-trained) working in federation of 6 primaries Music/singing - significant status in the federation - Executive Head support (clarinettist) Successful model within federation – why does it work so effectively? Specialist music teachers, weekly class music lessons, weekly school singing assemblies, school musicals at Christmas time and end of year 6 production (e.g. the Lion King, Oliver) Children motivated by music and singing – choirs/Barbershop Boys, pupils with behavioural issues, pupils who may struggle academically Creative arts focus – new position as Creative Arts Faculty Lead Teacher Creative Curriculum used within the federation – “WOW” lessons and topic-linked, culminating in a final project at the end of each term. Music lesson links to class topics, e.g. Africa in year 1, learning African drumming and African singing techniques in music (call and response, drumming patterns) Music within the National Curriculum

4 Context The Federation: 6 primary schools within 2 south London boroughs Lambeth and Southwark. 5 schools previously in special measures now good or outstanding. 1 new school to federation currently rated satisfactory, rapidly improving due to federation The school: West Dulwich, Lambeth, London Ages: 3 -11, mixed comprehensive 326 pupils on roll 54.3% boys/45.7% girls on roll 22.4% SEN statement or School Action Plus 38.8% E.A.L. (English as an additional language) 30.9% F.S.M. (Free school meals) high proportion of middle-classed pupils from affluent backgrounds against pupils who are from low income families The class: year 5 Chaffinch, 29 mixed ability, 16 boys 13 girls. 30 letters sent home to each child, 15 replies received.

5 Research questions 1)Do upper primary pupils consider music to be a valuable part of the curriculum? If so, how and why? 2)Can singing enhance the upper primary curriculum? If so, how and why?

6 Literature review foci The Power of music and its benefits for children Singing as a motivator Music in the curriculum versus music through the curriculum

7 Research design and methodology Qualititative/interpretivist Spring 2014 research period Exit slips Subject sorting game – anonymous selection process (Ross, University of Exeter) – helped to alleviate “halo effect” 4 focus group interviews with semi-structured questions: music in bottom 3, music in the middle, music in the top 3, the Barbershop Boys Researcher position: Teacher Researcher with pupils that are well-known (taught for 2 years) Coding – themes related to 3 Literature Review Triangulation - of sources (different interviewees/audiences) - of methods (variety of data collection methods)

8 Exit slip findings Most enjoyed: - using instruments/working in groups. Reasons: - Playing instruments challenges pupils to not only read music but play an instrument at the same time. Least enjoyed: -lesson times too short (only 30 minute slot allocated due to year 5/6 currently based on another site due to building work). - Concerned about other children not listening to other children’s ideas.

9 Exit slip findings Working in groups; as a class, Chaffinch have good relationships with each other and work fairly effectively in mixed groups. Group working - positive environment in which pupils feel more confident/supported by peers. Pupils felt that singing helped them to remember facts. They were learning a song called ‘A Rivers’ Tale’ which used river names, helping them to remember them in song.

10 Exit slip findings Many children take part in choirs and ensembles in and outside school. The 2 “no” responses specified that they would like to join a choir or ensemble.

11 Exit slip findings Playing as a group and singing were the most enjoyed elements: “we can be ourselves in choir.” “we are able to have that responsibility in the future to make the world happy.” Mainly pupils said they enjoyed their music lessons but some felt the lessons/choirs were too short.

12 Focus group questions What is your favourite subject at school and why? Do you play an instrument in or out of school? Do you take part in music outside school e.g. orchestra, band, choir? Do you enjoy singing? Why or why not? Does singing help you remember facts in class or not? In music lessons, what do you enjoy/not enjoy? What is it that you like about being in the Barbershop Boys? How is it different to learning in music lessons? How does singing make you feel when you’re doing it? Do you enjoy singing in a group and why? What has been your favourite moment in barbershop so far?

13 Focus group findings The Power of music and its benefits for children Child 4: “I like singing because I found that it was really interesting for me because I found it quite hard to talk because, you know, I don’t really like talking, I’m a bit shy but then when I found out how to sing I felt really like I can express my feelings.” Child 6: “I agree with child 5, and also I like it when we have music to listen to as in like for our lesson, we just sit down and listen to music and see how it feels and what it makes us think of. Child 4: “I think I like music because all the instruments all the instruments that we play and it’s really enjoyable and fun” Child 10: “The way it’s different is that with Barbershop Boys you work with other people but in music lessons sometimes you learn the same thing and you don’t do a lot of dance moves.” Child 12: “In Barbershop there’s not that much people so you’re focused really well.” Child 10: The most exciting thing about Barbershop is when we had the concert coz we got to perform on the stage and there was lots of people and they were all cheering us, supporting us. Child 13: and it felt like a fan club, kind of thing. All boys: wooo!

14 It’s almost like the music made me feel powerful, and I think it had the same effect on everybody as it had never sounded so good….At the end of the performance I just felt absolutely elated. p.586 (Lamont, 2012) Shyer children found singing to be a positive way of expressing themselves Children enjoy listening to music Children enjoy the kudos of singing as a chosen group/performing in a concert The Power of music and its benefits for children – common themes

15 Singing as a motivator Focus group findings Pupil 1: “I think I like some songs, like short snappy ones that just repeat like Hit the Road Jack.” Pupil 5: “I like singing because I wanna express myself.” Pupil 6: “…singing is just another way instead of like acting and talking, it’s another way to express your emotions and everything like that. Pupil 5: “while I’m singing I like to dance as well and I like to like show off a bit” Pupil 4 “um I find singing quite, like I said, that because if you get a rhythm and like put words to it that you have to remember, if it’s a catchy rhythm then you kind of get it. Pupil 7: “…in the holidays I have this camp, it’s like when you’re bored you just go there. Its school but less boring, like without just learning stuff with more fun things to do including singing.” Pupil 7: “I do enjoy singing though…if you have like a really good singing voice…I don’t think I’d be the person who is going to say “I’m going to go on Britain’s got talent” and start singing because sometimes I like to maybe go to my room and like sort of sing to myself…” Pupil 9: “I like singing especially when my older friend, she learns/has all these songs from her secondary school but I just quite like them and like singing them.” Pupil 11: “Well you get to learn songs you actually like from back in the day… Pupil 12: I like the Barbershop because we sing jazz songs and it’s that type of music that’s kind of groovy and we make up the dance moves and I think that we work well together. Pupil 13: I also like it because we are all with our friends who we don’t normally work with our friends in lessons because Miss splits us up and all that. Some people will think we are silly together but we’re actually very sensible and it’s very fun. Pupil 11: yeh we get to work with people that we don’t usually work with like people from other classes.”

16 Singing as a motivator – common themes “The physical act of singing, whether alone or in a choir, has been found to reduce levels of tense arousal and to increase levels of energetic arousal and positive hedonic tone.” (Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp & Grebe, 2004; Valentine & Evans 2001, in Hallam 2012) Want to express themselves/their emotions through singing/performing Singing considered “fun” Singing to themselves at home Learning songs from “back in the day” – children enjoying older musical styles such as jazz, blues and soul Working with friends in the Barbershop Boys Working with people from other classes (not just Chaffinch)

17 Music in the curriculum versus music through the curriculum Focus group findings Pupil 2 “it helps me remember facts but if it’s like “I ate and I ate until I was sick on the floor....64” I think that is a good way to remember your 8 times 8. Because 8 x 8 there’s a rhyme to it which can help you, loads of timetables have rhymes to help you.” Pupil 6: “Yeh it does especially with the River song with all the rivers and how the cycle goes. Pupil 5: “yeh I agree with child 3 because it’s like lots of special parts of the river like the precipitation um things like that.” Pupil 6: “also with singing when you’re trying to remember a song because you’re not going to have the words and anything like that, I think it’s easier than like remembering your words for your assembly or something like that, so basically because you have a rhythm and then your own way of remembering the song by then once you know the song and the time has passed for you to do it, it gets stuck in your head and then at one point you just burst out and start singing it.” Pupil 7: yes definitely because when we learnt about the River Song and at the beginning of the song it has all these other songs, and but then before, Miss (class teacher) said “write down all the names of the rivers you know” and we literally wrote down the Thames, the Nile and the Amazon but then after we learnt that song we literally knew about a hundred because we just sang it in our head “Nile, Missouri.. (she sings the start of the song) and you hear and you go “Okay” and done! You’ve literally done it in five seconds.” Pupil 8: “I agree with Pupil 7, because with the River Tale it has things like (he starts to sing) “Bramacoutra, Murray, McKenzie…” and it’s got all the rivers listed down and it’s got, so its facts, but otherwise….not really (sounds unsure) because most people sing songs about just other things.”

18 Music in the curriculum versus music through the curriculum – common themes In educational settings for children from three to five years, music- making can stimulate and reinforce the development of language and communication skills. Because it shares many of the features of the mother tongue, music can be seen as a second (or possibly a first) language. (Mackenzie and Clift, 2008, p230) singing helps them remember facts Learning songs about specific topics has helped improved their memories of the topics (e.g. the water cycle Using a rhythm to remember words/facts is effective

19 Recommendations for practice Children in the school are motivated by singing in music lessons and extra-curricular choirs. Performing opportunities and concerts give them a means of showing their talents to others. Concerts and performances motivate children in the preparation time as they are preparing for something that is important to them.

20 Limitations effecting validity/reliability Power relationships – pupils know me as their class music teacher and have strong relationships with me over 2 years of teaching, leading to a possible Hawthorne/Halo effect. Hawthorne/Halo effect – to minimise, pupils given clear starting instructions “must tell the truth” and “not be phased by my usual position as music teacher”. Following focus group discussions, I explained the Hawthorne effect to the pupils who then went on to confirm “but we were telling the truth!”

21 Conclusions Encourage children to compose their own songs to remember facts and information in lessons across the curriculum. Encourage class teachers to make greater use of songs in lessons in order to remember facts.


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