Silent Disco

In last week’s blog I reported on music in a school committed to Project Based Learning. The school claims two purposes – for students to ‘create beautiful work’ and for them to ‘make a difference to the world’. To find out more I attended the school’s Exhibition of Beautiful Work created by all pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9.

I was drawn to two events in particular.

First, Year 9 Humanities/Drama – Revolutions as Immersive Theatre which the programme described as: The Russian and French Revolution fused with the idea of immersive theatre, Year 9 present a unique and thrilling immersive revolution experience. Form the storm of the Bastille to Bloody Sunday, Marie Antoinette and Lenin, these students synthesise their knowledge of these epic historical events with their understanding of experimental theatre. Bringing you into their world, Year 9 attempt to express their vision of events. Viva la Revolution!

Second, Music – Silent Disco described as: Year 9 have been writing Club Dance pieces using industry standard software. They have incorporated a variety of minimalist techniques including phasing, repetition, gradual layering and metamorphosis into their compositions and have developed their skills as composers and producers. Tonight we invite you to dance along to our Silent Disco event where all forty compositions will be played. The wearing of rave paint and glow bracelets is actively encouraged. Enjoy!

Invited to provoke thought at a recent Teach Through Music event, Gary Spruce said:

My argument is that if one cannot make the case for music as mirroring society then fundamentally one cannot make the case for music education. For it is in the uses to which people put music that it gains its meaning. … Music is one of the key means by which individuals, groups and societies create and project their sense of identity.

I have never been to a silent disco. Neither have I worn rave paint or a glow bracelet. With headphones on and surrounded by the makers of the music dancing and waving glow sticks in celebration, it all made sense. Music put to use and meaning being made through which we projected our sense of identity.

I was struck by the spaciously rich quality of the sound and especially the thickness and depth of the bass. Much of this is lost as we listen to the music here

Some pupils had worked individually, some in pairs and together making a near seamless compilation of the forty pieces. (The sample above comprises three pieces.)

You the listener, now separated from the event, may well be drawn to the music’s sonic properties and their organisation, considering what it is that the three pieces have in common and where the uniqueness of each lies.

The question for the pupils was ‘how to create music to dance to?’

In valuing (assessing) what has been produced and the heavily scaffolded process of production there may need to be a dialogue between the sonic and the social.

In the school the work will be uploaded to Google Drive which is the way the work of all students is shared. Pupils can download their music from there. Meanwhile many have asked for the mp3s directly by email to be shared at home. Some have made ringtones of their music.

Music in this new school is a new experience for these Year 9 pupils and they are producing ‘excellent work’. And they have been successfully inducted into a musical practice.

Other events to catch the eye that evening:

Year 8: Science/Art – Public Sculpture Project: How can Art capture the beauty of science?

Year 8: Spanish – How can we use the works of Salvador Dali and surrealism to inspire language?

Year 8: Maths/Art – Can geometric shapes be used to represent the world around us?

I have been highlighting Drama, Art and Music and at first I wanted to write ‘the arts at the centre of the curriculum’. But that would miss the point, for here I think is one equal curriculum, where the purpose is to ‘create beautiful work’ and for pupils to ‘make a difference to the world.’

In this a strong case is being made for a music education.


2 thoughts on “Silent Disco

  1. Pingback: ‘no, not what the kids are actually into’ | Music Education Now

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