Connecting with music
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.22
In a world that is increasingly digitally connected but less socially connected, music provides a tangible way for students to connect. Making music together helps us connect with ourselves, with each other and with our community, as well as promoting connections within the brain.
In school, connections begin in prep when children clap hands with their partners, through simple games like Pat-a-Cake. They are connecting physically and socially while practising beat-keeping, spoken rhyme and physical co-ordination.
Connections continue when students sing in canon as a class in year two, listening carefully to each other to keep in time and in tune. As students get older, the musical tasks increase in complexity. These include part-work in groups, requiring communication with each other to fit in with others’ parts as well as maintaining their own part. These are complex cognitive tasks, yet also positive social experiences as students experience the joy of success in a shared challenge.
Connections with the community through music are many. For example, the whole school singing in the local Aboriginal language to celebrate NAIDOC week or singing a song at the ANZAC commemoration service.
Extra-curricular music ensembles such as bands and choirs provide opportunities to connect in a different group setting with students from the wider school student body. Networks and friendships are formed as students strive together for excellence. Communities of parents are built as they share in the joy of watching their children perform (and in the frustration of ensuring they practise at home!)
Music in Queensland
For more than 30 years, Queensland state schools have provided best practice in primary music education. This is easily taken for granted, yet national and international educators are often astounded by what we offer here in Queensland. We have:
- well-trained teachers
- specialist knowledge in primary school music education and musical development during childhood as a complete language of sound and symbols is developed
- preparation for and support of extension music studies in instrumental music and choral programs.
This foundation has a huge positive impact on our most precious asset, our children, holistically and musically. In turn, our education system benefits socially and culturally; benefits which flow beyond the school gate.
Classroom music programs have supported our world-class instrumental programs as well.
Music at Forest Lake State School
Forest Lake State School is like many Queensland schools which value music and the arts, and the impact they can have on their students and community. Every student participates every week in classroom music. This is where the joy of singing and the skills to sing are developed, along with an understanding of how music works, its sound and symbol systems, and the skills needed to play an instrument.
More than 200 students also participate in co-curricular music programs, including three choirs, two bands and two string ensembles. Small groups of students participate in a “Drumbeat” program, which builds social and emotional skills, and connection with others.
Music is a central part of many school events; from singing the National Anthem together at assemblies to performing at the school fete. Singing together unites the school community, especially at times like ANZAC Day and NAIDOC week.
Forest Lake SS is also home to a thriving dance program, with weekly classroom dance lessons as well as an academy of dance program. Many students are involved in both the music and dance programs concurrently.
Music and school leaders
The role of school leaders simply cannot be overstated. Provision of a supportive work environment, boosting morale, providing practical assistance, acknowledging expertise, articulating goals and supporting artistic vision are but a few indicators of great leadership. Through music, we all work toward the education of a well-rounded child, connected and prepared for life in an ever-changing world.
Music specialist teacher, Forest Lake State School
Reprinted with permission from "The Queensland Principal"