I teach a lot of children. Loads, in fact. I love the process, actually. But this post is not about that.
Most of the schools I’m in, I’ve been in for a while. They have umm… ‘experienced’ Rachel. They know a little bit about what to expect. But last week I started at a new school. I know a few teachers, but I didn’t have their classes on that day. I saw 7 classes of children who had never met me, seen me teach, or had a hands-on music lesson before (there used to be a music teacher at the school, but no instruments there. How can you teach music with no instruments?).
I decided to hit the ground running. I was a tie-dyed one-woman circus. All the kids learned to note-read. They sang. All classes played instruments. Lots of them played chime bars. Year six drummed on djembes. There was a lot of laughter – it started off nervously, especially with the older children, and then developed into actual laughter expressing joy. There were a lot of strange looks (who is this woman? what is she asking us to do? why is her hair so messy?) from both teachers and students that seemed to relax throughout the lesson (well, mostly). And there was a HUGE amount of engagement.
I see it as a challenge, you know. I have 25 children in front of me? If I can’t get ALL of them engaged in what I’m asking them to do, then I need to do things differently. My delivery is wrong. Or I’ve pitched the lesson wrongly. I need to change what I’m doing.
There were so many good things that happened. One very ADHD boy sang and played chime bars with a huge grin on his face. One very autistic child who doesn’t join in much had a great time playing percussion with her class. Year six erupted into cheering at the end of a drum piece. Lots of smiling. Lots of laughter. Lots of loving the learning process.
Music really engages kids, you know. And yet it’s not taught at a lot of schools. Or it’s taught badly. For my money? It’s as important as maths. If I was Prime Minister it’d be the first thing I made compulsory in schools. It would increase kids’ learning. And their self-esteem. And their school attendance. And their motor skills.
It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.