Six Weeks of #MFlearn19

I’d fully intended my last blog post for this course to be full of deep and meaningful insights into how I see the future of music education that would spark brilliant conversations with great thinkers in the realm of music teaching. However, I’ve been packing up life in Thailand, waving goodbye to NIST International School (where I’ve had an absolute blast of a music teaching time), directing my community choir for a final time as well as turning 40 with a whole host of amazing celebrations and leaving parties. I am now sat in an empty house typing on an unfamiliar laptop where I can’t even activate the hashtag key whilst my two boys (now on the world’s longest ever summer holiday as we transfer school systems) are doing everything in their power to thwart my thinking as my own brain thinks about fitting stuff in suitcases, flights and what awaits with our new life at the other end. Gah! 

What I can say is that I have thoroughly enjoyed taking some time to engage my music teaching brain via #MFlearn19 and really think about what I do in the classroom and why I do it, alongside colleagues from all over the world.  Thank you all! Martin Emo and his thoughts on the ‘digital musician’ highlights an area where I really want to grow my own expertise. I believe that an engaging secondary music classroom harnesses the power of music technology. My 40th birthday present is an Ableton Push and with the 4 month sabbatical I’m taking from the classroom, I’m going to up skill myself with this ‘musical instrument’ through both trial and error and the magic of the YouTube tutorial. 

James Humberstone didn’t pull any punches when he said “Music education is doing really well in spite of us teachers”. Ouf. But it’s good to know that kids want to have music in their lives and place it equal first in what they like to do. I agree with him that technology has democratised music making and students today are playing and making music in an environment that is a world away from the one we had growing up. As a teacher I find that really exciting and am in the category of people that like to learn something new every day. 

In my introductory blog I said that I’d taken a Musical Futures approach to teaching and learning before I knew it had a name and that others were on the same path too. As Lucy Green and Anna Gower were carrying out the first trials informal learning trials, I was in my West London classroom writing chord charts, note names, lyrics and bits of notation for the latest chart hits in different coloured markers on my white board and then running along it pointing with my pen as students played along on whatever we had (#beforetheplaylong). The same kids were teaching me a thing or two about rapping and in turn I was opening the door to other wide and varied soundscapes – the film scores of John Williams, Indonesian Gamelan, Satie’s quirkiness, the heyday of Brit pop and just how badass virtuosic recorder playing can be. 

I’ve now packed up my life in Bangkok (including all my musical futures inspired know how) and am ready to embark on the next adventure, taking my third culture kids ‘home’ to London. New school, new team, new students and a whole host of music making possibilities. Bring it on! 

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