An internet search about health and well-being in schools shows that it’s an issue that many are prioritising with initiatives around mindfulness, well-being and emotional health becoming part of school life. But it’s not just students we should be supporting. Various articles recently have identified how workload and stress is taking its toll on the emotional health and well-being of teachers and those who work with young people in our education system.
How can music help?
Keeping classrooms musical and facilitating opportunities for students and teachers to make music together in the middle of a day filled with desks and seating plans, assessments and written work can be an uplifting experience for everyone. We know that music teachers spend hours opening departments at break, lunchtime for students to make music informally and show a massive commitment to extra curricular music activities and concerts in addition to heavy teaching loads. This is what makes music in schools so valuable and it’s often the most rewarding part of the job.
Here are my top tips for a musical 2016 for our schools.
Make a plan to show how investment in music will produce results. Collect evidence, cost everything out and show how your plans will benefit as many students as possible and impact on results and uptake of music moving forward. The plan can cover anything from CPD requirements for the department to building equipment and resources, growing enrichment opportunities or improving the learning space.
Check out Musicroom.com for their great range of instruments and accessories here.
Use tried and tested resources and capitalize on the experience of professionals with years of working to equip schools and practitioners with the resources they need. Don’t forget to shop around, cheapest solutions aren’t always the value for money they appear to be as things that get used in schools need to be robust and hard wearing!
Sing sing sing. Invite staff to choir rehearsals, hack a staff meeting with a big sing, get singing into assemblies, sing in the car on the way home. Keep repertoire current and simple to embed singing into lessons and build numbers in extra curricular groups from there. Series like Little Voices, Just Voices, Novello Primary Chorals , and Sing Out are great resources to start with.
Involve everyone. Bring music out of the classroom and across the school with break time busking or lunchtime performances. Let older students take responsibility for choosing repertoire for groups and take a lead in supporting rehearsals.
Communicate success by inviting people to hear and be part of music in the department. Rather than wait for formal lesson observations invite senior staff down informally. Share video and recordings with other staff and parents, especially those that show students who may not normally engage with school life responding to music.
Ask questions, share ideas and resources through the teacher support networks online. Find resources, start a blog to reflect or recommend something to a colleague. Don’t let the potential isolation of being a music teacher affect your morale. (Read more on that here).
Laugh. Making music is fun so be a musician in the classroom, create music together and enjoy those moments that make music teaching one of the best jobs in the world!
Anna Gower has recently embarked on a new full time role as Head of Programmes for Musical Futures having previously worked in secondary schools as a classroom music teacher, Advanced Skills Teacher Head of Music and a freelance music education consultant. Read more of her articles here.