Who will try a dialogic musical gathering?

‘DLG (Dialogic Literary Gatherings) is a dialogic reading activity based on two principles: reading a classical literature book (such as Romeo and Juliet, the Odyssey, Don Quixote) and then sharing meanings, interpretations and reflections with the dialogic learning methodology. DLG are organised as follows:

Before the gathering, the class chooses a classical book of the universal literature, and agrees on the number of pages to be read before the next gathering; then, each participant reads the text at home and selects the paragraph he or she liked most or that caught his/her attention to share it in the gathering. During the gathering the moderator gives the floor to each participant, who reads aloud the paragraph and explains the reasons why he/she selected it; then, the moderator gives the floor to other participants so that they can discuss that paragraph. The same procedure is repeated with each paragraph for the full duration of the gathering.’ (http://www.schooleducationgateway.eu/files/esl/downloads/21_INCLUD-ED_Dialogic_Gatherings.pdf)

Could there be dialogic musical gatherings?

I once attended a meeting of a book club. I had read the designated book by Emile Zola and loved it. In the gathering, while there was a moderator present who had great knowledge of literary matters, not all spoke. In my case, despite my many thoughts about the book and lines of interest, my voice was quickly diminished by others who were clearly on the inside of literary criticism.

It wasn’t a dialogic literary gathering.

I recall being a teacher of PSHE (in order to fill my timetable) and using a dialogic approach I enabled group discussion of issues covered. I learnt how my role as a moderator could be minimal. The less the group deferred to me the fuller seemed to be the debate. The dynamics of the classroom changed, relationships different. For me this was learning to let go. Danny Brown tells about learning to let go here: http://www.squeaktime.com/blog/letting-go

Back to Dialogic Literary Gatherings – I have heard of a primary head teacher who is thoroughly enthused by this practice, first adopted by one his teachers and now spread to the whole staff. Will there be improvement in the children’s reading, in their speaking and in their interthinking?

So what about a dialogic musical gathering?

Let’s decide on a musical work to listen to. Mmm! Now a technical challenge. How to make it possible for all the class to listen to the music at home? Any ideas!

If we can find a way then the task will be to note a passage in the music that is of particular interest. This may well encourage repeated listening and progressively sharper focus. Back in class I think we will be able to manage the sharing of thoughts about the music.

Pupils will need to communicate musically as well as verbally.

I will trial this with my U3A Group.


Three possible reference points for DLG.

The German philosopher Jurgen Habermas thought big about things and his theory of Communicative Action is no exception. The goal was to promote reason in a world where instrumental reason dominated, that form of reasoning that is dictated by ends, bringing things under control, achieving goals. This gets in the way of mutual understanding, democratic practices and a richer form of reasoning.

DLG models a democratic practice and at the same time touches Matthew Arnold’s “disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world, and thus to establish a current of fresh and true ideas.”

While connecting with Richard Shaull, who, drawing on Paulo Freire, Richard writes: “There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”


4 thoughts on “Who will try a dialogic musical gathering?

  1. davidashworth

    Regarding listening to tracks at home, I think there are four possible options:

    1. suggest group members buy the CD
    2. download as a single track mp3 from iTunes/ Amazon for about 79p
    3. listen to it on YouTube [yes there are adverts but they are usually very short]
    4. put together a Spotify playlist

    Within a typical U3A group they should find one of the above options is feasible – possibly with a little help from a younger friend or relation!

    For school aged students, it has to be YouTube. When I ran my Roma singing project in East Sheffield earlier this year, all the Roma and non Roma students were quite happy and able to access in this way. In fact, this seems to be the default music access mode for most of them….

  2. Thanks David. I do think the adverts present an ethical issue.
    I am interested in how the move from DLG to DMG can work without losing the deep underlying principles of DLG. Education is littered with the misappropriation of ideas.
    The originators of the idea of DLG would see your Roma community as a typical group to work this with.

  3. davidashworth

    I think the idea of trialling fresh approaches for music education in a U3A context is a very interesting one. This could be a very worthwhile area of activity for retired music teachers who still retain an interest in education, especially if successful activities can then be filtered back into classrooms.

    It would also serve to broaden the range U3A music sessions on offer, in an area where ukulele sessions seemingly have a stranglehold!

  4. Pingback: The pleasures of entering a dialogic space – Music Education Now

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