The MusicLaunch Mosaic – Entry #3

This week was even better than last week and the week before! I can tell that there’s a real connection being built with the kids and there’s a nice dynamic starting to develop where we’re all learning from one another.

I introduced the concept of teaching one another as well as me teaching them and them teaching me, creating an El Sistema type thing where we are a community. The kids really liked that idea because it empowered them to take ownership of what they’re learning so that they can help teach one another. The brothers and sisters certainly didn’t mind bossing each other around – haha!

The kids all remembered the guidelines from last week when I asked them to remind me. I taught them the whole C major scale and got them to compose their own piece with the information that they learnt.

I taught about conducting and then we played the conducting game where they needed to follow one another in order for the game to succeed. It was good to see them grasp the concept clearly and have a stack of fun in the process.

Looking back now I realise that there was some decent vocabulary being built up between the kids and I. I would use words like “groove” and “time” and they knew exactly what I was talking about.

There were also moments when I used “chunking” to teach them the next section of their own compositions. This was effective in watching them pick up the patterns of the piece and figure out how to play the sequences. Lastly, there was a lot of “GPS” encouragement going on. Both “chunking” and “GSP-style teaching” are Daniel Coyle concepts.

It’s really interesting for me going back an analysing what I’m doing in the classroom. In all of my experience, I’ve never had to dissect and analyse my interactions with students or the methods I use to convey a concept to people. It’s encouraging for me to finally put a label on all of the instinctive methods of teaching that I use.

Lastly, I brought in gold stars for the kids as rewards and they LOVED them!! I made sure that I told them at the beginning of the class that if they focus and zone in with me for the lesson, there’ll be a reward. These kids really respond to incentives and it certainly makes my job so much easier!

The MusicLaunch Mosaic – Entry #2

It was so much better than last week. We agreed to divide the children up. Yen took the 3 younger ones and I took the 4 older ones. It was easier because I started to bring in some guidelines and boundaries for the kids to operate in. Now that I knew what the room, what the kids and the material that I had to teach was like.

Progress was made with the little details, like telling the kids to put their bells sticks down on the table and that they couldn’t play unless they were directed to play by the conductor. They responded well to my clear instructions and seemed to really love the order and structure of the lesson. I also taught them a few rehearsal etiquettes like not making noise while someone is talking and listening to one another really carefully.

I had to be careful with my accent to slow my speaking down so that the kids could understand what I was saying. I actually asked them to tell me if they couldn’t understand and a few times they put their hands up and asked me to repeat myself. That interaction was a good thing because it showed me that they were engaged and invested in the lesson.

I felt like the kids were trusting me a little bit more and I can sense that its going to get better each week from now on. I feel as if these kids really flourish within clear boundaries, and it makes it so much easier for me to teach them.

So yeah, we’re getting there. There was much more of an improvement than last week and the vibe in the room was a whole lot more positive!



The MusicLaunch Mosaic – Entry #1

Well it’s the beginning of my Music Launch internship and I’m curious to see how things with develop over the next semester as I get to know the kids better and they become more comfortable with me. This week was a tough week as it was a new setting and a new dynamic for everyone.

Coming into the classroom we needed to get accustomed with the vibe of the room immediately. The kids introduced themselves to us and we to them.

It’s always hard to gain the trust of students in a brand new setting.  The kids wanted to check us out to know that we were teaching the right material, but they were also were shy and didn’t want to be singled out at any point. This made for an interesting classroom dynamic.

Yen and I struggled having 7 or 8 kids of different ages, varying from 4 years old right up to 8 or 9 years old. The age gap was too much and put restraints on the type of things we could teach and how effective we could be at communicating. In the end, we divided it up and Yen taught one thing while I assisted with the younger children, then we switched places.

Yen has a real gift of coming along side kids who don’t quite know what they are doing and nurturing them into learning a new the concept.

It was difficult to hold the concentration of the class due to their age differences, but also because some of the kids were related to one another (brothers and sisters) and they all knew each other previous to the class beginning, This meant that Yen and I had to define some strong boundaries and parameters for the kids to operate in. I tend to frame the boundaries in “releasing statements” like: “You can hold the bell sets this way” and “It would be great if we didn’t talk now.” The positive statements help create a happy vibe in the room, whilst giving the students the comfort of well defined expectations and objectives.

All in all that was a tough week and I think in future we should divide the kids up and get possibly two different groups going.  It will be interesting to watch how this thing develops.