Teaching a music lesson

On 09/10/18 I taught a full class Music lesson. I was very anxious about this as it is not a subject that I am familiar with and it was the lesson in which my senior mentor was observing. On speaking to my mentor the night before, we decided on using the song ‘Under the Sea’ from The Little Mermaid, as the pupils have been working on this in English (TS2 – be aware of pupils’ prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these, TS4 – contribute to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within the relevant subject area).

The pupils gathered on the carpet, and verbal praise was given to those who came and sat down quickly, encouraging those who were not (TS7 – take responsibility for promoting good and courteous behaviour). I explained the LO: “By the end of the lesson you will be able to write your own rhythm to a piece of music” (TS4 – develop understanding through effective use of lesson time). Class discussion took place, asking the pupils who played musical instruments to motivate and engage pupils (TS2 – be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge). To reduce the opportunity for low level bad behaviour I asked if a challenging child could help changing the slides / playing the music (TS1 – establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect, TS7 – maintain good relationships with pupils). I then told the pupils that the music we would be listening to today is one we have all heard before (TS2 – be aware of pupils’ prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these). Clear instructions were given; the pupils’ are to listen to a familiar song and when they hear the ‘pulsing beat’ or ‘rhythm’, they are to clap it out (TS1 – set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions).

Demonstration of method of clapping (2 fingers and palm of hand), followed with an open question of why are we using this method? Pupils were encouraged to use vocab from previous Science lesson and some could identify that clapping with 2 fingers would produce a quieter noise. One pupil picked up on this and used language such as ‘faint’ (TS2 – be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge).

Pupils were observed completing task enabling verbal acknowledgment of those who had picked up the steady pulse and were clapping it out (TS6 – give pupils regular feedback orally). Steady pulse then scaffolded to encourage participation(TS3 – have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstanding). Mini plenary used identifying a pupil who demonstrated a rhythmic clap, and them demonstrating to the whole class. Building on from this the note ‘crotchet’ was introduced.

Whole class demonstration of crotchets in the form of a clap, questioning pupils how many crotchets in a bar (as written on the slide) (T3 – demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas). To keep pupils engaged the lesson moved on to use physical actions and motions to represent the crotchets (TS4 – impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time). The music was then played again to the pupils, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate the steady pulse of the song in physical movements. Once the music stopped, I identified pupils to demonstrate good examples, staying in time. The pupils were then asked to sit in the space they were and make sure they could see the board (TS7 – have clear rules and routines for behaviour). Pupils demonstrating good listening, responding to instructions quickly were verbally acknowledged, prompting other pupils to react quickly (TS7 – promoting good and courteous behaviour). The pupils were then introduced to the terminology quaver. A pupil who had identified that they had piano lessons put up her hand to give the explanation of a quaver. This was positively received by myself and I thanked her for the input (TS1 – demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour which are expected of pupils). The pupils then repeated the motions and physical actions for a quaver. Individual pupils were picked out again to demonstrate effective rhythms representing quavers. The pupils were then given the main activity task. Instructions were given to work with lollipop friends (TS5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively), to create their own bar of rhythm using crotchets and / or quavers. They were told they could use any equipments available within the classroom. Whiteboards were placed on the centre table to be used as a support if pupils felt they needed / wanted them (TS5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively). The pupils quickly went off and began the task. The pupils’ attention was brought back using the clap back method, to clarify the use of classroom materials (TS7 – manages class effectively). The noise level was high with it being a practical music lesson, but the pupils were verbally reminded of behavioural expectations (TS7 – have high expectations of behaviour). The noise level did concern me, with it being an observed lesson, and I did question my behaviour strategies. On reflection I felt the pupils were engaged and on task and was happy with the progress.

To end the lesson, each lollipop pair were invited to demonstrate their bar of rhythm. It was then open to the rest of the class to identify whether they performed crotchets, quavers or both. The lesson ended positively, with pupils verbally recalling ‘crotchets’ and ‘quavers’. Pupils gave thumbs up/ thumb down indication of their learning (TS2 – guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs).

After the initial anxiety of the lesson, I felt it went well. I was unable to plan in advance, but from now on I will be more proactive in ensuring I have all the information needed to plan. To reduce excessive noise, I will give pupils’ the classroom materials in which I am confident they could use to produce sound, enabling a better control over behaviour management. A target to develop is behaviour management. Being confident in not entertaining dialogue with challenging pupils is something I will work on.

Focused next steps to impact on your progress or the progress of the children in your care:

  • Revisiting musical notes to ensure understanding
  • Disengage with low level behaviour issues
  • Introduce Nicola Morgan behaviour approach