In last week’s blog I highlighted three analytical categories that might assist in understanding the ‘good enough’ music lesson described.
These can be thought of as dimensions of pedagogy. This week I add a fourth, facilitation, through another thick description of a music lesson better described as a musical workshop.
The four dimensions:
- Ethical commitment (EC)
The ethical dispositions that nurture the pupil-teacher relationship and that make teaching possible.
- Cultural mediation (CM)
The transmission of cultural knowledge through the medium of music, involving instruction that is responsive to the receptivity of the pupils.
- Body-mind engrossment (BME)
Music-making as a form of embodiment – that to know music is to perceive through the body as mind.
- Facilitation (F)
Enabling the expression of musical thought.
In the description that follows the teacher as facilitator (F) comes to the fore while teacher as cultural mediator (CM) takes a step back.
So, is the distinction between F and CM useful?
Does it help to mediate in the content (what is taught) – approach debate?
How does it relate to the ‘why’ of music education, the ‘what for’ of music education?
(On the ‘what for’ see for example:
Next week a fifth dimension.
Meet the Creative Orchestra
‘Mid-day Saturday and 23 young people aged 8-13 have come to make music together in the large hall come gymnasium.
Chairs are being set out in a circle. It is the centre’s Creative Orchestra. There are violins, saxophones, clarinets, pianists, percussionists in equal numbers; harpist, bass guitarist, acoustic guitarist, cellist, trombonist and flautist. And a workshop leader (F) who I sense will be a quiet presence with a clear voice of authority and who knows a lot about attunement (F).
Still encumbered with bags and not all instruments are ready. A quiet word to move bags to their place and we are into a round the circle warm up, ‘remember to keep it flowing’: the leader sets the round in motion with a simple four beat rhythm clapped (F), class copy then the first solo from Peace, all copy and so on yielding 23 rhythmic ideas, ever more intricate and calling for ever more attentive listening (F).
And that’s how the session moves forward – everybody learning to listen, having ideas, making suggestions, having thoughts; everybody with a part to play in what is made together today with the leader ready to offer stimuli (F & CM), and who leads how I had imagined, gently attentive to fresh thinking (F), new possibilities. The stylistic generator is a group of Samba grooves (CM)
And then there is a counterpointing pentatonic melodic framework set out in the centre of the circle; D E G A B represented by five spaced objects (CM).
E has a big box, for E is to be our tonal centre. The class are shown how by stepping between the tones the melody is made and how a repertoire of signals calling for variation in durations and dynamics can be used (CM & F). And before long the class are rehearsing how to make notes really short, notes that grow louder and then as players volunteer to lead, so more possibilites emerge to be thought about (F).
‘Any suggestions, thought, ideas’, asks the leader (F). Some suggestions come fully formed, some convoluted, some tongue-tied inviting others to articulate more clearly before reaching their final form in the music. What a long way words can be from music.
An important part of the process is the assembling of the material (F) into a work in progress that we can all be inside for a few minutes. Then more thoughts, ideas, suggestions (F).
The class are relaxed about all this. They are learning to be still, thoughtful, circumspect, wondering, some just being, barely becoming so it seems. The harpist seems happy enough to be there with her harp. Time is not rushing on. There is none of that ‘fast pacey please the inspector stuff’ here, rather staying with the moment, indwelling the music (F). Rapid progress is a stranger here, slow learning a virtue (F).
Ibrahim take a lead and tells us that we can think of the music as being like a journey (F). Ideas are flowing faster now with contributions from Peace, Oscar, Neoma, Jo and Jessie. More leaders in turn take centre stage and confirm this way of working (F), expand tonal and rhythmic possibilities calling for music made with intention as well as deliberation (F).
The rhythm section is strong, rarely lose their grove. Frederick takes time out to teach Joe how his cabassa part should go (CM) and this is in the middle of a six minute playing.
Now Oscar suggests combining four ideas to add to the advancing sophistication of what is not actually a piece of music, rather a series of sketches that might become a piece (F).
The leader, for the first time mindful of the time, for there is a time to end the session, says, ‘seven minutes to go’ and Oscar leads the final excursion.
‘It’s a journey to an unexpected island’, says Naomi.
We are now well into the afternoon on this dull Saturday in June, it’s time to go home. Chairs away. With repose and a simple satisfaction, so it seems, the children go their way.
I wonder what will happen when the choir join the orchestra next week?’