End of Term 3
Today my two primary classes at Language School had their final music lessons for the term, and presented their compositions to students, teachers and parents at the End-Of-Term Assembly.
We started off the day reasonably well, doing a run-through of the song I have taught all of the primary students in their weekly assembly (Inanay – by the gorgeous group Tiddas – on the Sing About Life album). We sing it in two parts, which they are managing really well now. It is not an easy harmony for this age group.
Then Lower Primary practised their question-and-answer music Can I have some more please? No, you can’t! They have riffs that they play on glockenspiel that follow the rhythm of the words.
They were so unfocused! We have had a few tricky lessons these last few weeks – their regular teacher hasn’t been with them all the time, some of the students who speak and understand quite a lot of English have been absent from school (thus depriving the newer students of peer models), and these two key factors have meant that the structure of the piece doesn’t really seem to have sunk in. At least, that’s how it seemed at this morning’s rehearsal. I felt a bit frustrated by the end. Was this project too difficult for them? Mel (Melbourne Uni work experience girl who is shadowing me on this project) agreed with me that it isn’t, or shouldn’t be, when we consider what they achieved last term.
Fortunately Middle Primary had their run-through next and they were excellent! “We’ve been practising!” beamed their teacher to me when they walked in the room. Apparently the day before they had walked to a nearby park to play cricket, and practised the Alphabet Dance. It makes such a difference when music tasks are revisited, and reinforced during the week between my visits. The students had so much confidence today.
Their Winter Music was equally strong. We only needed one run-through of this – it was ready. This is the piece that tries to depict what ‘cold’ sounds like.
Then, what do you know, the Lower Primaries really pulled out all the stops for the performance! They were great – did their best performance of the piece ever! They were looking at me, listening, joining in the patterns – even the newest students, in the school for just 2 weeks, who can barely understand a word of English.
End-of-Term Assemblies are when the children who are ready to move on to mainstream schools receive their Language School certificates. We are not saying good-bye to too many this term, which means the classes will largely unchanged, with just 1 or 2 new students in each at the most.
I started discussing plans for next term with the teachers. I have suggested they each choose a book – something well-loved – one for each class. We’ll draw all our composition work next term from that book – we will sing it, we will create chants from it, using selections from the text. We might write a song, or create a musical re-telling of the story.
As I will be going away before the end of term I need to create a project that the teachers will be able to continue rehearsing in my absence. So while I will draw content from these books, I will also focus on the music principles of pulse, rhythm, and metre, and support teachers in building a stronger awareness of these 3 things, o give them greater confidence in leading music activities with their classes.
I’m back at the school tomorrow for the secondary students’ concert, so will see if the teachers and I can find some concrete ideas of possible books, so that I can do some planning during the holidays (all three days of holidays that I have!)
Suggestions of great books, suitable for ESL primary, with pictures and text?