“Having the audio to play along with stops you stopping. With a backing track you have to keep going, just like in real life” Jennifer
I’ve just got back from a visit to Monks Walk School where this term, Head of Music Jennifer Rotchell, has been using the Trinity Rock and Pop Session Skills resources to teach year 12 who are following the new OCR specification for A Level Music.
The session skills are a choice between improvising or playback and each comes with an audio track and related notations for students and sample resources graded 1-8. In a Rock and Pop exam situation students are given some time to prepare then they play to the examiner. But could they also be relevant in the classroom?
At Monks Walk, a thriving music department built around access and inclusivity for all student, those who opt to take music beyond KS3 at Monks Walk are often informal learners used to learning by ear and playing together in class, as well as accessing more traditional forms of music learning where relevant. Jennifer wanted to see if the Session Skills resources might enable her to retain the practical “we learn as we play” approaches embedded lower down the school in lessons which the students are used to, whilst allowing them to access all aspects of what has traditionally been quite a notation and theory-based qualification.
The discussion today identified several ways in which Jennifer and her students felt that using the Session Skills had helped their learning so far:
- Using the backing tracks for the Play Back component meant that students copied and internalised stylistic features that weren’t an obvious part of the score
- Having to listen whilst performing helped with understanding the music and with score reading
- Improvising is a stepping stone to composing, for example the students explored breaking the music down into cells then how to develop them
- The approaches could then link into the set works
- These resources were a good way to keep learning musical at A level
- The fact that the resources are linked to exam grades helped Jennifer to pitch the materials at the right level for the students, with the potential to progress as students became more confident with the skills and understanding gained
Jennifer will be updating recordings and video of the students’ progress to her class blog and we look forward to hearing how they get on!
“It’s sight reading but not quite sight reading! You listen to it and play along”, Will
” It was quite difficult, I’ve never really done much of this before” Natasha