Teaching to a new beat
London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter:@mdmaloneyphoto
It was a test that these students loved doing, and on Wednesday afternoon (June 13), most of them had the opportunity to put the results on display at Montcalm Secondary School for the launch of Musical Futures Canada.
Since returning from March Break, 125 students from both the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) have been participating in a pilot learning project with researchers from Western University. Three elementary classes at Our Lady Immaculate (OLI) in Strathroy and two secondary classes at Montcalm Secondary School were involved in the study, which tried a different approach to teaching music.
Ruth Wright, Department of Music Education chair at Western University was one of the people spearheading the project. She said that in Canada, the traditional way to teach music has been with a large ensemble were the teacher stands at the front of the class and everyone plays the same piece from the notation they are given.
This new way is very different because the student is more involved.
“They choose who they work with and they choose the pace they work at,” said Wright. “They look for the skills they need as they go along rather than following a set curriculum,” which provides more autonomy and learning environment that keeps them more engaged in the learning process she notes.
Two students that have taken part in the project are Luke Ingratta and Derek Desmarais.
A Grade 7 student at OLI, Ingratta is enthusiastic when talking about participating in the project, “It’s a good motivation to learn and gets you excited about music.”
He remarked that in addition to just improving musical skills, the program also helps to develop leadership. In his case particularly, Ingratta said it has helped him feel, “that there are a lot more options (in music) than I use to think of.”
Desmarais is one of the secondary students participating from Montcalm. For him, the new approach is one more in keeping with times.
“We aren’t going home and listening to Tchaikovsky so I don’t know why we are coming in to play it,” said Desmarais.
Having taken music on and off since about Grade 6, he is finding this approach where “they kinda let us go a little bit — let the reins free,” much more interesting and not just for himself.
Desmarais pointed out, “These teachers have seen attendance change and seen kids that use to misbehave and goof around, get a little more zoned in because they are interested in the music.”
For more information on the Musical Futures initiative, visit www.musicalfuturescanada.org.
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