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words spelled on scrabble tiles

Take a moment

Take a moment. How can you truly be an anti-racist music educator? Nate Holder knows more about it than me! Read him today instead.

musical notes

All Cows Eat Grass

Most of you will know EXACTLY what I am referencing here.
If you were trained as a musician in the last 30 years, then this is most likely how you learned to read music.
If you are a musician, trained recently, and don’t know what I’m talking about, then I have to say that I am glad for you. Because this is not how to learn, or to teach, reading music.

fingers on piano keys

To teach or to play?

So you want to include games in your music lessons, but don’t know where to start? I’m certain that all music teachers have felt the same at some point or another. The biggest worry that we all have is that we play games that are not connected to learning, that we are wasting precious minutes just to make sure we are the ‘fun’ music teacher. We really are skilled at overthinking music teaching. The problem often lies (as it usually does) in not planning effectively. Worried that a student is looking bored, you jump in and fix the boredom with a quick movement game. Concerned that a student is not listening to you, you make up a game to incorporate and alter their misbehaviour. Over time, this leads to lots of music games being incorporated (which can seem fantastic) but not much time spent at the instrument, or focusing on any particular skill. The only question that you need to ask yourself to solve this problem is this: “What skill do I want my student …

Which came first: the rhythm or the melody?

Ah, the age-old question. The first time I realised that this was a matter of contention was when I was on a student placement (as a classroom teacher, not a music teacher). The music teacher was talking about how she never introduced pitch until Grade 3 (age 8), because children simply didn’t understand it before that. According to what she was saying, she only worked on rhythm with children in the first few years of school. Now, in her defense, she did in fact do a lot of singing with her students. What she really meant was that did not teach the western structures surrounding scales, melody and harmony. Was she right? At the time, I was horrified. And I have to say that I hope you’re a bit horrified too. Why, I wonder. You, as a music teacher yourself (or an enthusiast, anyway) will probably already have an answer. To state it plainly, to teach rhythm without any mention of melody, would be like telling a child to only eat the skin of an …