Year 9 Options Evening is an important date in the school calendar and we must be prepared for the students and parents that will join us for that evening. As music teachers we want to recruit, but we also want to give sound professional advice. Here are some of my thoughts on that evening and how we might approach it.
We want students to choose music, and therefore we need to show them why. What are the positives associated with studying music? It always sounds too easy to just say “Inspire them” but it is true – they need that spark of inspiration. That will need to start before options evening in lessons, but on the night it is worth making some kind of speech about the joys and benefits of GCSE Music.
If you thought that inspiring pupils sounds hard then what about the parents. I don’t like to generalise too much, but in my experience parents often didn’t have the best music education. Their view of music might therefore be negative. But also parents often feel like if they aren’ musical themselves that they can’t support their kids. Use options evening to reassure parents that they can be supportive and that taking music will be a great journey for their son/daughter.
Forget Powerpoints & Handouts
There is always a tendency to create a PowerPoint or handout for options evening. However I am not a fan of either of these methods. I like to speak from the heart, share stories and invite current GCSE students to help sell the subject. Course breakdown, set works and nitty-gritty information can be given out at a later date or given in the school options booklets. Use your best asset on the night – you & your students. However I can appreciate that if you are asked to do a large scale talk to a whole year group at once then a presentation might help.
Why are you asking about Theory?
I think this is the thing that winds me up the most one options evening and so I like to address it head on. “My son is worried about the theory” or “My daughter has done much theory” are two comments I hear every year. My response is always – have you asked the business studies teacher about theory? What about Physics or Media Studies? Why is it in music that parents and students get obsessed with this word theory? Where along the way has music theory become this massive elephant in the room. I address this head on – theory is the stuff we learn when we make, perform and listen to music. Don’t panic, don’t worry, I will teach you what you need to know.
Music started in Year 1
Music is a subject that students have been studying for potentially the longest. Before school it is likely that music was part of their life with nursery rhymes and musical toys. Music is part of everyday life in most Primary Schools – it is a subject they have studied for years. So why not take it to the next level and study it at GCSE. I know there is more to it than that, but it is a good hook to use this fact and then work with students on the realities of the course.
- Try and get some older students to perform some music. It is always good to start any school event with music – it helps raise the profile of the department.
- Make sure you offer an opportunity to chat either at a future parents evening or a separate meeting. Some parents and students don’t like to chat too much on options evening and prefer a private conversation.
- Don’t dumb music down. It is an academic subject and worth taking! Having said that do balance that with the creative aspect.
- Enjoy the evening, keep track of who you speak to and aim to inspire everyone who comes through your door.
Just a few thoughts on year 9 Options Evening and how we can “Sell our Subject”
I have written another blog linked to recruiting that you might also like to read: