This year I have the privilege of teaching in a first school. Last year the first school joined our academy and it is now part of “Windsor Learning Partnership”. I started running a Year 4 choir last year and this year I am teaching music to all 4 year groups. In a Middle School System such as the one in Windsor, First school is Years 1 – 4, then we have the middle school before they get to me in Year 9.
Oh and this was my choice and my idea…
I guess the reason for me blogging is because I want to share my experiences of music in the lower years and track a little of what I am doing and learning. I also think that it is an interesting venture for a secondary music teacher and I hope that I will reap some benefits.
So why am I doing this? What is the point of adding to my work load?
Both good questions, questions I have asked myself in the last few weeks.
Well firstly, I love it. Working with Year 4 last year was just such fun and watching them singing was great. So far this year I have seen every class once and I have left feeling really happy and excited for the future.
Secondly I think it is good for music in Windsor. If these students can really fall in love with singing and making music from a young age then that will benefit music in Windsor. They will grow up singing and playing and then when they reach me in the Upper Schools they will add to my department and be my future GCSE & A-Level Students.
Dream on James!
Well my third point is, you’ve gotta have a dream haven’t you. The minute I get bored of my job and run out of ideas then I will do something else. So I guess this is my latest idea and I am dreaming big. I am so excited about tracking these pupils into Middle School and beyond and I believe that I can have an impact. Well not just me, but the older students as well. Now that I am teaching these classes I can take in my senior students who can be young leaders and role models. I believe this will have an impact.
Fourthly I think a first schools choir is a lovely addition to an upper schools concert. Parents come along to the school to hear their little ones and they get to experience the older students as well. I hope that this will keep in their mind that they want their kids to stay in the learning partnership and follow this journey.
So what have I learnt?
- Be prepared, time is different when you have 5 year olds in front of you.
- I have learnt that younger kids ask lots of questions, I mean lots! There is no passive learning.
- They love music, so lets keep it like that and make sure they grow that love into a passion.
- You can’t assume knowledge and so you have to really make sure that they have learnt something before you move on. This is a great skill to take into my A-Level lessons.
- Younger children pick up tunes really quickly! But teaching words by rote and not on a screen or sheet of paper is hard.
- They need to be instructed as to what to do and don’t really love standing up and siting down a lot.
- They are full of joy and when this is channelled into singing it makes for a wonderful noise.
Week one is done and I have learnt so much. I am going back to Year 1 next week with a new story and I am going to write little songs to go with it. Year 4 are going to learn some more key terms and Year 2 & 3, well I am still thinking about that.
So I guess my point is this. Try something new. It might be daunting, hard work or even a little unknown. But if it benefits young people, brings you a little joy and ultimately makes a difference to music education, it might be just the right thing to do! My dream may come true, I just have to wait a few years to find out. In the mean time I am going to get back to the sing-up website and my new book about animals!