FIVE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO MOTIVATE BOYS AND RAISE STANDARDS IN MUSIC FOUNDATION STAGE 1. RESOURCES: these should be good quality, sound-wise. Aim to have proper instruments for the music sessions, not toys or gimmicks. This shows respect and boys respond better to the “real thing”. Provide bass sounds as well as the higher sounds especially for tuned percussion. Use a good quality CD or tape player, as listening skills will be developed critically in these sessions. Support learning with as much visual material as possible: pictures/flash cards/colour etc. 2. LIVE MUSIC: lots of opportunities to watch other people (children) making music in other classes; the early school; secondary schools; parents; governors etc. Also get an audience even the adult walking pass the classroom, so children have someone to play/sing to where possible have two or three children playing untuned percussion along with the CD accompaniment to a song, to make live music. 3. BEHAVIOUR MANAGEMENT DOES NOT TAKE OVER CURRICULUM OPPORTUNITIES: allow opportunities (lots of) for exploring and discovering sound. It will have a high noise level and provided the instruments and child is safe this is all right and to be expected and accepted. To help to “contain”, “central”, “structure” and cope with all this experimental sound use a visual stimulus which they will “play to” e.g. a picture/pattern/shape (trace your fingers round it) a puppet or other moving object. 4. PROFILE OF THE SUBJECT: it needs to be seen to be a valued and repeated area of the curriculum. Not the one which can be shelved if something more important comes up. If there is a visiting specialist the class teacher should still attend the lessons (or at least sometimes) to show it is important. Demonstrate all musical skills you and other teachers have, celebrate achievements, display certificates of festival competitions or graded lessons…or from the Butlins talent competition! 5. VARIETY OF OPPORTUNITIES: especially linked to movement with music. Positively sitting and singing will not engage them sufficiently (some of them) but adding hand actions, movements etc, which are relevant to the song. Linking sounds to words (adjectives) or to numbers and patterning, as warm up lessons starters and develop the lesson not just in 3 parts, but with a series of short activities. Listening will be successful is given a specific focus, using a visual stimulus e.g. choose the picture (out of 4) which fits best with this piece of music or use a puppet to respond to the music. KEY STAGE 1/2 1. UKS” – BOYS CHOIRS – as one of the extra curricular options. This would allow for a different repetitive of songs to be taught. (It may be necessary, for equal opportunities, to have a girl’s choir but this would not weaken the impact on supporting boys in order to raise achievement and engagement). 2. RESOURCES (choice of and quantity): large untuned percussion. Bass sounding tuned (on trolleys for accessibility) quality, enough for every pupil. Too many instruments are high pitched which does not relate to boys voice pitch. Reasons behind this being they are the cheaper ones! Also, to ensure that CDs have examples of boys and men singing, to avoid hidden messages about singing being “girlie”. These should not just be pop groups but male soloists and male voice choirs. 3. LIVE MUSIC: performers from local groups, secondary schools, army band, Salvation army band, police band etc. the aim being that boys see the role model: men do play/sing. Also the staff, especially the males, sing in assembly and share in performing wherever possible. 4. CROSS-CURRICULAR LINKS: using music as a stimulus for other subjects e.g. art/history/geography/RE/PE. This helps to put music in a real life context and pairs it with other (sometimes more respected) subjects of the curriculum. Also using music as a therapy, for calming, for enjoyment. This gives music a relevance and purpose and can link with music in the media. 5. TEACHING STRATEGIES: the hidden messages are noted, so the teacher needs to be keen and enthusiastic, choose songs/music which you like, then it is easier to enthuse others and demonstrates a more personal involvement. Sometimes group the children by gender. Vary the groupings obviously, but it is not necessary to award the boy/girl separation as sometimes the activity lends itself to this. KEY STAGE 3/4 1. A BOYS CHOIR (BARBER SHOP). PLUS STAFF: both pitch range and song style can be more appropriately chosen. Also, boys are less self-conscious without the girls. It needs to include adults e.g. other staff (teaching and non- teaching) governors…even parents perhaps. (They will need a forum for performances, a name, even a logo perhaps). 2. RESOURCES: good quality percussion, real orchestral and jazz/pop percussion instruments including non-western. This will cover tuned and untuned. ICT, not just computers but there more relevant to life e.g. multi-track recorders, drum machines, synthesizers etc. Space and venue: dedicated areas for boys to develop their interests and musical skills. Being both academic and a very practical subject: it needs recognising and providing for. 3. LIVE MUSIC: from good role models “outside” the school and within the school. Contact other secondary schools and share expertise any nearby colleges/universities/sixth form colleges, local operatic, dramatic society may send a singer or two to perform an extract from a musical, the royal opera do workshops and also some orchestras and ballet companies. Boys are visually stimulated as well as actually (which is less developed usually) therefore they need to see how the music is being created. 4. RELEVANCE: set tasks/activities in context, relevant to life, present and past. Provide opportunities for individuals in making a link of the task to current affairs so the competition (for example) can be performed and appreciated for its communicative qualities as well as pure musical qualities. Be prepared to justify and answer awkward, challenging questions life “why do we need to do/learn this?” 5. PACE AND VARIETY: three or four parts to a lesson, involving listening, performing and composing being instruments and voices, with some families and some unfamiliar music. Provide support for visual learners as well as visual (which is a natural ingredient in music (even) and kinaesthetic which should be a natural part in every lesson. Ensure it is a social subject, whole class activities, to avoid individual “expression”.
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