I read a post last night about sixth form induction and someone suggested a blog, so here are some thoughts.
When I read that post it did get me thinking about the whole concept of Sixth Form induction and what it needs to achieve. It is an important day for Year 11 students and for us as music teachers. I think there are a few things we shouldn’t do:
- I don’t think we need to go over the specification. That seems fairly dull and ultimately if they are up for taking music then they probably know that they will need to perform, compose and appraise.
- We don’t want to put them off by suggesting that it is a big jump up and that there are loads of pieces to learn about. We want them to feel like they can achieve and that they will achieve.
- We shouldn’t however let them leave thinking it will be a complete doss.
- We shouldn’t at any point use it to assess their ability. We ultimately want our subjects as full as possible and unless there is someone who is entirely not suited to the course, chances are they will all be okay. No tests!
- We shouldn’t use the time to try and squeeze in as much information as possible to make them feel like they are A-Level students. They have just finished exams and the last thing they want is to have their heads filled up with too much information.
So what should the goal of this session be?
Well the goal is to give them a flavour of A-Level music, without putting them off, but a flavour that shows that A-Level music is an academic and solid subject. We need them to enjoy it and leave inspired to go away and get ready for September.
It does in essence come down to us to put on the right show – so yes, do channel your inner Hugh Jackman and put on the Greatest Show you can. Lots of groans will undoubtedly come from some people reading this, but I truly believe that as teachers we are to some extent there to put on a show for our students – but one based on facts, passion and professionalism of course. I am not suggesting you start juggling with fire or dress up as a clown. But what I am suggesting is that you bring A-Level music to life. This comes down to your passion for the subject.
So if you want to know what I will be doing for my induction I will tell you.
I want students to leave my room in love with the idea of music and studying music. I know they all play or sing and I know that they are good at composition. In fact I know them all really well as I have taught them for a while now. But I want them to leave with a new passion for music. I want them to leave excited by the thought of going deeper with music and I want them to be inspired to listen to music in a new way.
So I am going to play them stuff I love and I am going to get excited by it and passionate about it and talk about it. I am going to ask them what they think of it and why. I am going to ask them if they listen to anything similar. I am going to show that studying music at Advanced Level is about going deeper, thinking deeper and listening deeper. It is about taking music and really unpacking what makes it sound the way it sounds. We can come on to exam technique later, but what they need is to be excited by the thought of spending most of their lesson listening to music and thinking about music.
I might play some of Rachminoff 3 because I love it, or I might play one of my favourite tracks by Muse. I will undoubtedly stick on a song from a musical and I will probably play something from a film score. But when we chat about this music I will be excited by it and I hope that they will too. I will get them listening, thinking, talking and sharing. Variety is key and it does help to have a music streaming service open and at the ready.
And the goal is that music wins. The goal is that we all leave excited by the power of music and all leave knowing a little more about music. No need for photocopies or sections of the spec. Just use your greatest tool – music!
Music should be the target language of most music lessons, and maybe even more so in an induction lesson for Music A-Level. Get students excited by listening and you are on to a winner. If we don’t love music then how can we expect them to!